Sam Levy

Sam Levy

Creative Development and Literary Director at Arielle Tepper Productions

MBA, 1998

About Sam

Sam Levy (MBA ‘98) is the Creative Development and Literary Director at Arielle Tepper Productions, a theatrical production company in New York and London that has received over 75 Tony nominations and 34 Olivier nominations since 1998. Broadway credits include the 2012 Broadway revival of ANNIE; RED, starring Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne (winner of six 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Play); HAMLET, starring Jude Law; GUYS & DOLLS starring Ewan McGregor in London and MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT to name just a few. Future Broadway productions include Nora Ephron's LUCKY GUY, starring Tom Hanks, opening in April 2013.

I made my career choice because...

I'd had a pretty eclectic and opportunistic career path, working in the public sector, the not-for-profit sector, for a start-up internet company, and for a large hedge fund before landing in the entertainment industry.  Over the years, I discovered that I had a good eye for recognising talent, good project management skills, and - apparently - a good feel for what might entertain or engage an audience.  I had always been a voracious consumer of film, TV, and theatre, with a pretty low threshold for boredom.  So after much contemplation, I hoped that I might be able to pull all these things together for my next career move.

The business skills that I had learned over time - strategic planning, organisational behaviour, project management - weren't exactly prevalent in this industry when I started. Despite the fact that the 40 Broadway theatres generate over US $1.1 billion in annual ticket sales, it had traditionally been run by small companies with little focus on management, data, and audience development. That began to change early in the 2000s, and I managed to enter the business at the right time for someone with my background.

What has been interesting is that my very astute boss encouraged me to contribute in areas of the business that would have traditionally been run by MFA's rather than MBA's. My role has now morphed primarily into a creative one, but I think that my interest in and knowledge of the business side provides me with a somewhat unique perspective.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have...

One of the lessons I learned at AGSM @ UNSW Business School ​was that, generally, teams make better decisions that individuals.  While I think I may have understood that at the time, now I see it in practice every day.  Theatre, film, and television are all incredibly collaborative art-forms, and even the most autocratic director or producer will embrace that if they're going to be successful. Just like in anything else, if you're the smartest or most talented person in the room, you probably need to get a new room.

I've also learned that creativity can and should be found in all corners of a successful company. I've worked with many business people who are just as creative as the artists with whom I work, even though they may speak a different language. Creativity and imagination are important in any organisation, in any industry.

My most impressive achievement is...

Helping to launch the careers of a number of theatre, film and television artists in recent years, including some Oscar and Emmy nominees, a Pulitzer Prize winner (and a few finalists), and several Tony and Olivier Award winners. That makes me very proud.

My most exhilarating experience so far has been...

Living in New York is pretty exhilarating most of the time, but I always get especially exhilarated in a rehearsal room or on a set.  It never gets old.

My biggest unrealised wish is...

To produce a really high-quality long-form TV drama, like the Australian mini-series The Slap.  And a television or radio talk show!

Others say I am...

Incredibly fortunate.

At the moment I'm inspired by...

The re-election of Barack Obama.