Jennifer Arnold is an Emmy nominated director working in both narrative and documentary formats. She grew up in Santa Barbara, California and began world traveling at age 16. Jennifer is the winner of the Humanitas prize, a NAMIC Vision Award and the Adrienne Shelly Director’s Award among others. Her projects have premiered at prestigious festivals, including four separate appearances at Sundance. She’s been a participant in Sundance’s Film Forward program, an advisor at Film Independent, Sundance and CNEX and has presented story workshops in the US, Kenya, Taiwan and China. Her directing credits include acclaimed feature documentaries A Small Act (HBO), The Diplomat (ESPN) and Tig (Netflix). She has also directed the feature comedy Fat Camp (BET) and has most recently directed the television shows Last Man on Earth (Fox) and Ghosted (Fox). Jennifer’s work runs the gamut from comedy to drama and fiction to non-fiction. She still travels the world, believing that stories bind us together. Her home base is Los Angeles, California where she lives with her wife, the esteemed cinematographer Patti Lee.
What do I do best?
I like duality. I can put myself in other people’s shoes. I traveled a lot in my formative years and I think that’s why I don’t see the world through one lens. I’m a director and I’m always thinking about dual points of view. I’m also good at making lists and plans and schedules and solving technical problems, while simultaneously staying emotionally engaged. I can juggle my right and left brain and somehow find harmony.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I’m best when I’m happy (aren’t we all), which means I’m working hard, that work is satisfying, I’m connecting to people and getting surprised by life.
What are my aspirations?
I just want to keep telling stories with interesting people in interesting places and keep getting paid to do it.
My Biggest Success?
I’m a working woman in Hollywood, that’s not nothing. I also made this documentary called A SMALL ACT that changed a lot of lives in various ways. I’m pretty proud of that film.
My Most Challenging Moment?
My most challenging moments, like the really challenging ones, don’t belong on the internet – but I’m sure I’ll make films about them one day.
It’s a tie:
1) Together we are one – this is actually what “e pluribus unum” means (the motto on the dollar bill). Lately I’ve been wishing America would live up to its motto.
2) Laughter is the best medicine.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I don’t know. Sometimes you meet your idols and they turn out to be sort of dickish, so I don’t think about role models a lot. But I can tell you which voices and stories I love. I love the comedy of Preston Sturges. I love the worldview of James Baldwin. Toni Morrison’s writing made me grow. Gena Rowland’s performance in Woman Under the Influence breaks my heart every time I see it. Asghar Farhadi’s films always make me think and Donald Glover writes some of the best jokes I’ve ever read.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite places are new places. The only place (that isn’t my hometown) where I visit regularly is Nairobi. I did a year abroad there and I kept coming back. It is a wild city. Some people don’t like it, but I have great people there and I love it.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My favorite object is a delicious home-cooked meal (usually cooked with my wife), my second most favorite object is a delicious bottle of wine to go with that meal. When the wine is open that means friends are coming over to eat and talk and cause trouble.
My Current Passions?
I’m sounding like a broken record now, but my passions are and always have been traveling and storytelling.