Audible Hires Film and TV Veteran Zola Mashariki to Oversee Original Content

Todd Spangler
·3-min read

Zola Mashariki, former senior exec at Fox Searchlight and BET, is the new head of Audible Studios.

In the role at the Amazon-owned audio content platform, Mashariki will lead the creation of all original programming from concept to release, overseeing the entire studio operation including the development and implementation of content strategy.

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Based in Los Angeles, Mashariki reports to Rachel Ghiazza, executive VP and head of U.S. content, the former Spotify exec who joined Audible in 2019.

“With Zola, a profoundly gifted executive, we are poised to conquer this important moment in audio — a pivotal time when creativity and originality are at a premium and we deepen our commitment to reimagine what audio experiences can mean for audiences,” Ghiazza said in a statement. “Zola’s track record of creating award-winning, breakout hits, her exquisite taste, production expertise, and deep understanding of the intersection of audience appetite and quality content is beyond impressive.”

Mashariki commented, “I’m absolutely thrilled to join a best-in-class team to lead content creation, evolve our strategy, amplify original voices — both emerging and established — and deliver imaginative, immersive, and high quality audio narratives to audiences everywhere.”

With more than two decades of experience in TV and film production, Mashariki most recently was chief content officer for production company One Community (previously known as Good Films). She oversaw Good Films’ critically lauded 2019 release “Just Mercy,” based on the true story of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (portrayed by Michael B. Jordan) who helps Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) appeal his murder conviction and death-row sentence.

Mashariki spent 15 years at Fox Searchlight Pictures (now Searchlight Pictures) where she served as senior VP of production, overseeing an array of independent and international projects. Some of her most successful projects were book adaptations including “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” Gina Prince-Bythewood’s breakout “The Secret Life of Bees,” “The Last King of Scotland,” for which Forest Whitaker won the Oscar for best actor, and Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, “Antwone Fisher.”

During her tenure at Searchlight, as part of the acquisitions team, she also worked on Oscar-winning films “Slumdog Millionaire” and “12 Years a Slave,” as well as Sundance Film Festival Award winners “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Another Earth.”

In 2015, Mashariki was named head of original programming at BET, where she led the creative team and oversaw programming for both BET and Centric Networks. During her time, Mashariki developed and executive produced “The New Edition Story,” BET’s highest-rated series in previous decade and winner of two NAACP Image Awards. She also collaborated with the late John Singleton on series “Rebel” and with Laurence Fishburne for “Madiba,” a limited series about Nelson Mandela’s life.

BET had fired Mashariki in 2017 while she was on medical leave; she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Viacom and BET that was settled out of court that year.

Prior to working in the TV and film industry, Mashariki practiced corporate law at Proskauer Rose in New York, focusing on M&A and securities transactions. She also represented the late playwright August Wilson and co-founded with him the African Grove Institute for the Arts (AGIA), the first national Black theater alliance.

Mashariki was an early supporter of Time’s Up and remains involved with the organization. She also is a founding member of ReFrame, an organization created by entertainment industry leaders to help achieve gender parity in Hollywood.

Mashariki holds a bachelor of arts degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Harvard Law School. She also attended USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program. She lives in Los Angeles with her children.

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