Unplug & Recharge//

This Entertainment CEO Only Checks Her Email Twice a Day

Christina Wayne on the book that changed her life and her morning routine.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Christina Wayne: Child’s pose to stretch out my back. Without stretching I’m not ready to do anything. Then snuggle with my daughter and give my husband a hug.

TG: What gives you energy?
CW: Walking my daughter to school, then going to Barry’s Bootcamp or Soul Cycle and a big cup of green tea. After that I’m awake and ready to face work.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
CW: Sadly I don’t really have a good one. I wish I were more clever about stuff like this, but I’m just not.

The best I’ve got is: I put some river rocks over the soil in our fiddle leaf fig tree to stop our kittens from digging up the soil and making a mess in our living room.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
CW: W.H Auden’s book of poems. I was given it as a gift years ago by a director. The cover of the book simply says AUDEN. I passed that book every day for years on my bookshelf. When I was coming up with names to name my daughter, Auden just became the perfect fit. So she’s proudly named after an alcoholic, British, gay poet. She loves it and so do we.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
CW: God no. I put my phone on airplane mode every night because I don’t want it giving me cancer or a brain tumor. I still have an iPhone 5 now called an SE because the small size fits better in things. I’ve never jumped on the “get a new phone” as soon as one comes out bandwagon. I use my phone to send texts and emails and make phone calls and check the weather.

TG: How do you deal with email?
CW: Every morning while I’m eating breakfast I check emails after that I check before I go to bed. Otherwise I’m out at meetings or on work calls all day so I don’t have time to keep checking and I probably wouldn’t anyway. Years ago I had a boss that forced me to get a Blackberry. I was still using a pager well after everyone had switched. My husband always teases me calling me a “luddite”.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
CW: Lie on my living room sofa and read the Financial Times’s How to spend it or Departures Magazine to see what the rich folks are spending money on and look at places around the world I hope to one day visit. Then start planning a trip and driving my assistant crazy with travel plans. I live for the trips I take with my family.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
CW: Right before Christmas last year, when the entertainment business shut down I wrote, produced, edited and built the website for Televisionschool.com; online courses to teach people about breaking in and working in the television business. We shot the video courses over a week and after each day of shooting I would stay up till all hours of the night re-writing and editing the next segment to be shot. I’d never been on camera before having to read from a teleprompter for hours, which was physically exhausting. Then having to edit hours of footage into half hour courses was endless. In April we launched the site and afterwards I was definitely in need of a massage – I book them through zeel.com, some R&R – meaning my husband takes my daughter to school a few mornings and lets me sleep in, and a trip to my dermatologist to do whatever it takes to erase the new wrinkles and saggy bits I acquired during the process.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
CW: I worked with a producer that very early on in pre production of the show attempted to marginalize and undermine me, by condescendingly telling me how to do my job in front of other people we were working with. He also constantly dismissed my ideas and often talked over me whenever I offered my opinions. I failed by not nipping his behavior in the bud the minute it happened and confronting him and telling him to knock it off. I was so blindsided by his behavior, I didn’t really understand how he was trying to sabotage my position on the show. Recently I was asked to write a piece for Fortune magazine about sexism in Hollywood. By doing the research and really learning how men and women are unconsciously biased against women in the workplace, I began to understand what this producer was doing. Now that I have a better understanding of how sexism works, I feel empowered to speak up when it happens and make sure to shut it down.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
CW: I’m not a big quote person. My husband sent me this quote yesterday after suggesting that I stress out too much and our life is pretty great and I should remind myself of that more often.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” – Oscar Wilde.

Christina Wayne is CEO of Assembly Entertainment, with an overall deal at ITV Studios America, where she develops and produces scripted dramas worldwide for cable and digital platforms. She currently is executive producer, with Jim Carrey, on Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, and executive producer of a new series with Jessica Chastain penned by Sully screenwriter Todd Komarnicki. Prior to creating Assembly Entertainment, Wayne was President at Cineflix Studios. She was also Senior VP of scripted series/miniseries for AMC, where she shepherded the development and production of the Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning drama series Mad Men, the Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning drama series Breaking Bad, and the Emmy® Award-winning mini-series Broken Trail. In 2017, Wayne launched TelevisionSchool.com, a comprehensive online educational course about the creative and business sides of creating content for television and digital platforms.

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