Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Archewell hire former Good Morning America producer to lead Global Communications – amid reports the royals are filming an ‘at home series’
- Prince Harry, 37, and Meghan Markle, 40, hired new Lead Global Communication
- Ashley Momtaheni worked at Universal as well as United Talent Agency
- Comes amid news the Duke and Duchess are filming an ‘at-home docuseries’
- Reports have emerged Netflix chiefs want it to be ready for the end of 2022
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have continued their hiring spree at Archewell as they brought a new lead for Global Communications.
The Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex, 40, who are currently living in their $14 million mansion in Santa Barbara, have taken on Ashley Momtaheni to oversee all communications efforts for the various divisions of the organization, according to Deadline.
She was previously VP of Global Communications and Media Relations at Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and started her career as a producer for ABC’s Good Morning Amerca.
The announcement comes amid claims Prince Harry and Meghan are filming an ‘at-home docuseries’ already branded a royal Keeping Up with the Kardashians for Netflix who have secured their ‘pound of flesh’ in return for their $100million Megxit streaming deal.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have continued their hiring spree at Archewell as they brought on a new Lead Global Communications
According to Deadline, Momtaheni worked at United Talent Agency where she ‘heightened the profile of the company and its agents.’
Meanwhile she also worked as Head of Communications for Annapurna Pictures, who have produced films including Spring Breakers, Her and American Hustle.
While there she handled press for their film, interactive, television and theatre divisions.
Although it is not known how the Duke and Duchess learned of Momtaheni, Meghan’s BFF Jessica Mulroney used to work as a fashion contributor on GMA.
The Duke and Duchess have taken on producer Ashley Momtaheni to oversee all communications efforts for the various divisions of the organization, according to Deadline
The couple founded Archewell, which will make documentaries, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming in September 2020.
They have an undisclosed deal to provide exclusive content to Netflix’s 190 million subscribers worldwide, which experts predict could be worth $150 million.
In a statement released when they founded the programme in 2020, the Sussexes said: ‘Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope. As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.’
They added that Netflix’s ‘unprecedented reach will help us share impactful content that unlocks action.’
In her role, she oversees all communication efforts for its three divisions: Archewell Productions, Archewell Audio and the nonprofit Archewell Foundation
However there has been little progress from the couple since then, with Netflix scrapping Meghan’s animated show Pearl about a young girl inspired by Meghan who takes on social injustices while highlighting the work of feminist icons.
The new hire comes amid reports the Sussexes have welcomed cameras into their $14million Montecito mansion for a reality-type series that could be in the mould of The Osbournes – although it is not yet known if the couple’s two children, three-year-old Archie and 11-month-old Lilibet, will also feature.
‘I think it’s fair to say that Netflix is getting its pound of flesh,’ a Hollywood insider in the know about the project claimed to Page Six.
The format would likely suit Harry and Meghan, who have demanded control over their media messaging since emigrating in 2020. But they also demanded privacy, so a reality show has raised eyebrows amongst royal experts who have suggested it is a paradox.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle founded the media company in 2020 after stepping away from their royal duties. The celebrity couple is pictured here at Buckingham Palace in 2018
And with just two weeks until the Sussexes all fly into the UK for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the story in the US will raise anxieties at Buckingham Palace that the couple will use it to fire more transatlantic potshots at the Royal Family.
The Queen’s aides are said to have already banned Harry and Meghan’s camera crews from her palaces as she marks her extraordinary 70-year reign.
The couple have also been barred from the Buckingham Palace balcony for the Changing the Guard on June 2. But the Netflix team have been following them since last year, including a trip to New York compared to a royal visit and their trip to The Hague for the Invictus Games in April.
Sources suggest that the Sussexes are angling for the docuseries’ broadcast to be delayed until early next year, around the time Harry is expected to release his tell-all memoirs where he will likely have another say on Megxit as well the Sussexes’ claims that an unnamed royal was racist towards Archie and aides neglected his wife when she was suicidal and pregnant.
‘The timing is still being discussed, things are up in the air,’ a ‘producer in the know’ claimed, adding that the cameras had been rolling at their grand home in Montecito.
Royal expert Angela Levin, author of 2018 book ‘Harry: Conversations With The Prince’, said today: ‘Harry wanted privacy and to be ordinary. He also hated cameras. But he’s ended up doing an at home docuseries for Netflix. Does he need to be searched for hidden cameras on Jubilee days? Will he steal the event from the Queen?’
Australian royal commentator Daniela Elser said: ‘In only four years, the Sussexes have gone from being global darlings, resoundingly adored with desk drawers full of enterprising plans for charity projects, to reducing themselves to proto-Kardashians’.
From an adviser who worked for Hillary Clinton to one of Silicon Valley’s top PR gurus: Who’s who in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell team
ROLE: FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SENIOR ADVISER
Canadian-born Catherine St Laurent, who lives in Seattle, was head-hunted by the couple from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to become Harry and Meghan’s ‘chief of staff’
Canadian-born Catherine St Laurent, who lives in Seattle, was head-hunted by the couple from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to become Harry and Meghan’s ‘chief of staff’ and executive director of Archewell, their new non-profit organisation, last April.
But it emerged in March she had left the post with insiders saying she ‘wanted out’ after performing tasks outside of her contract and having to ‘fulfil a great many functions for the Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39.’
She has now said working for the couple was an ‘incredible experience’ in an interview with The Cut, saying: ‘They are incredibly talented and creative leaders. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do that, to be able to be with them on their journey.’
She is now working as a senior adviser for the couple.
ROLE: SENIOR STRATEGIC ADVISER
Alaskan-born Genevieve Roth is the Founder and President of Invisible Hand, a social impact and culture change agency
Alaskan-born Genevieve Roth is the Founder and President of Invisible Hand, a social impact and culture change agency.
More recently, the mother-of-one was made the Senior Strategic Advisor to Archewell, the organisation founded by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
She is the former Features Director of Marie Claire Australia and before that, held editorial positions at GQ and Esquire.
She left her job in magazines to serve as the director of creative engagement for the 2016 Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.
The mother-of-one, whose husband is black, often speaks out about racism in America, and has written at length about the ‘racism in her own marriage’.
In an article for Primer, she wrote: ‘Race is an issue in our marriage because as a white woman of privilege, I have racist tendencies written in at a cellular level, and that can really gum up the works.’
And in an article for Good Housekeeping, Roth wrote about the notion of white privilege and her heightened understanding of it after marrying her husband, Jordan.
Roth also worked as the executive director of special projects at Glamour magazine, and the producer of the Glamour Women of the Year Awards.
In 2014, Roth helped launch The Girl Project, Glamour’s ‘global philanthropic initiative’ supporting girls’ education.
Roth describes herself as an ‘expert on the intersection of narrative change, women’s empowerment, and social justice.’
Her agency Invisible Hand has created campaigns for clients including Archewell, PBS, The Obama Foundation, The XQ Institute, and The Girl Effect.
A graduate of Emerson College and the Columbia Journalism School Publishing Course, Roth also worked with The White House and Let Girls Learn, a US government initiative launched by former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle.
She was a 2018 Shorenstein Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
ROLE: CHIEF EXECUTIVE
James Holt previously led communications for the Royal Foundation, the charity headed by the Cambridges
James Holt previously led communications for the Royal Foundation, the charity headed by the Cambridges.
Holt has worked at Kensington Palace for several years – as well as for the Liberal Democrats – and is passionate about many of the causes championed by Harry and Meghan.
He acted as Harry and Meghan’s UK spokesman and will now take on the role of executive director of the Archewell Foundation.
Holt, a BA Journalism graduate from the University of Lincoln, rose to the position of Head of Media for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 – and stayed in the role until August 2013.
He worked as Special Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister – Nick Clegg – from June 2013 to January 2014, and moved up to become Head of Government Communications for the Deputy PM until September 2014.
He took on the voluntary position of Director of Communications for Pride in London between March 2016 and November 2017.
In October 2017 he took up the role of Senior Communications Officer for The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry – staying in the role for one year.
He then became Head of Communications at The Royal Foundation for one year, until September 2019.
ROLE: HEAD OF CONTENT
Just days after Meghan and Harry’s bombshell two-hour Oprah Winfrey special, the couple announced they were hiring producer Ben Browning to head up their film and television ambitions in the US
Just days after Meghan and Harry’s bombshell two-hour Oprah Winfrey special, the couple announced they were hiring producer Mr Ben Browning to head up their film and television ambitions in the US.
He has taken on the role of head of content for Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio after being recommended to the couple by a mutual entertainment industry contact.
Mr Browning has previously worked on films including The Big Sick, Arrival, Room and Late Night and is set to head up Archewell’s work with Spotify and Netflix.
Most recently, Mr Browning worked on Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan, which was nominated for five Oscars.
Mr Browning said in a statement to Forbes: ‘From the moment they shared their vision for Archewell as a global production company that will spotlight diverse voices and share uplifting stories, I knew I wanted to help with this unique opportunity.
‘It’s a thrilling company to be starting.’
ROLE: HEAD OF AUDIO
The Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex , 39, who are currently living in their $14 million mansion in Santa Barbara, have taken on producer Rebecca Sanaes to oversee their podcast business
The interview comes as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hired a Head of Audio to produce their Archewell podcast – after giving Spotify just 35 minutes of content so far for their £18million deal.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex who are currently living in their $14 million mansion in Santa Barbara, have taken on producer Rebecca Sanaes to oversee their podcast business, according to Deadline.
She was previously lead podcast producer for Pivot, New York Magazine and Vox Media’s show hosted by Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway and will report to Archewell’s head of content, Ben Browning, when she joins the company in August.
Before joining Pivot, she worked in public radio, where she worked on episodes including Why Is Vermont So Overwhelmingly White.
In 2015, Rebecca received the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting HIV/AIDS Fellowship.
ROLE: HEAD OF SCRIPTED TV
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have continued their hiring spree at Archewell as they brought on a new Head of Scripted TV Nishika Kumble to work on their Netflix shows
It was announced in August 2021 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were continuing their hiring spree at Archewell as they brought on a new Head of Scripted TV to work on their Netflix shows.
The Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex, 40, have taken on producer Nishika Kumble to oversee their scripted TV programmes with the streaming service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
She was previously VP development and production at Hollywood actress Rashida Jones’ Le Train Train Productions and worked as a producer on the TV series Fargo.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kumble will ‘work closely’ with Netflix to ‘create and develop new scripted fare from diverse voices that informs, elevates and inspires.’
ROLE: HEAD OF UNSCRIPTED
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle added another new hire to their growing roster of Archewell employees in July: a former Disney+ executive who has been brought on to oversee their production company’s unscripted projects for their incredibly lucrative partnership with Netflix.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hired former Disney+ executive Chanel Pysnik to head up nonfiction content for Archewell Productions in July
News of the couple’s new hire was revealed by Deadline – it is likely that LA-based Princeton graduate Pysnik will concentrate on boosting the couple’s roster of unscripted and nonfiction projects.
This could well mean that she will play a key role in the couple’s first Netflix project – Heart of Invictus, a documentary series about the Invictus Games starring Prince Harry, 36 – which was announced in April of this year and would fall under Pysnik’s remit as Head of Unscripted.
While it is unclear how Pysnik landed the role at Archewell, she does have an acquaintance in common with Prince Harry: British soccer star David Beckham.
One of Pysnik’s most recent projects for Disney+ was securing a new unscripted series with the sports star, who has been close friends with Harry for years – and attended the Sussexes’ wedding with his wife, Spice Girls singer-turned-designer Victoria, in May 2018.
While his series for Disney – entitled Save Our Squad – was only announced in April and has yet to be released, Pysnik reportedly played a role in its creation, and will likely therefore have worked closely with the 46-year-old father-of-four during that time.
The Sussexes have also hired Los Angeles-based Toya Holness (pictured) as press secretary
ROLE: GLOBAL PRESS SECRETARY
The Sussexes also hired Los Angeles-based Toya Holness as press secretary In November 2020.
A keen football player, she has worked for the celebrity agency William Morris Endeavor, New York City education department and the video creation company Deluxe.
CHRISTINE WEIL SCHIRMER
ROLE: HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
She is considered one of Silicon Valley’s top PR gurus and was hired by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to boost their global image In November.
Christine Weil Schirmer (pictured) graduated from the same US university as the Duchess
Christine Weil Schirmer, the couple’s new head of communications, also shares a deeper bond with the Duchess – they both graduated from the same US university.
Ms Schirmer, a married mother-of-one who has been lauded for her work with tech companies such as Apple and Pinterest, attended Northwestern University between 1996 and 2000, graduating with a journalism degree.
The 42-year-old was raised in Long Island, New York, to parents Ken and Christine, both librarians, before moving to the San Francisco Bay area as her career took off.
The Duchess has spoken about her time at Northwestern in Illinois, from 1999 to 2003, where she majored in theatre and international studies.
She was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority – a social society for women.
A source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘That sorority was mainly made up of the pretty girls from high school.
‘Meghan was heavily involved in the social aspects of the group. It’s quite possible that she and Christine crossed paths at Northwestern, at the very least the university gives them a shared bond.’
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