Leader of studio working with Obamas leaving for new role

 March 24, 2024

Tonia Davis, who has served as the Head of Motion Pictures at Higher Ground for the past five years, is embarking on a transition from her current role.

Despite this change, she will continue to play a vital role as a producer on upcoming projects at the studio.

The announcement

Vinnie Malhotra, the President of Higher Ground Productions, will continue to oversee both the film and television divisions of the company.

Davis expressed her gratitude for the experiences she's had, stating, "I am immensely proud of the work we have done together at Higher Ground, including winning an Academy Award and bringing important and entertaining stories to audiences around the world. Now is the right time for me to start my next chapter, and I am excited to continue to produce alongside the team at Higher Ground."

Joe Paulsen, another key figure at Higher Ground, expressed appreciation for Davis's contributions, noting, "Tonia has been an integral part of Higher Ground since the beginning. We are so grateful for her work and dedication over the past five years and excited to continue producing with her during the next phase of her career."

The studio's successes

Higher Ground's recent projects have enjoyed notable success. "Leave the World Behind," a thrilling film directed by Sam Esmail, attained significant popularity, ranking fifth on Netflix's Most Popular Films List and amassing 140 million views within its initial 73 days of release.

The studio's portfolio also boasts acclaimed works like "Rustin," "American Symphony," "Becoming," "Crip Camp," and "American Factory," each earning recognition and accolades at prestigious events such as the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

In television, Higher Ground has delivered impactful series including "Working: What We Do All Day," "Waffles + Mochi," "Our Great National Parks," "The G Word with Adam Conover," "Ada Twist, Scientist," and "We the People."

Working with the Obamas

These series have not only received critical acclaim but also garnered prestigious awards like the Emmy, underscoring the studio's commitment to compelling storytelling under the guidance of former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

"The Obamas getting into business with Hart has privately drawn the ire of some industryites, as old tweets and jokes from the actor that were branded homophobic when they surfaced in 2018 prompted him to step down from Oscar hosting duties," the Hollywood Reporter stated.

"But the family-friendly Fatherhood, which centers on a man who loses his wife soon after childbirth and who must raise his newborn child on his own, appears to offer an on-brand message for the Obamas and their first shot at working with a bona fide movie star," it added.

Davis's transition marks a significant moment for Higher Ground. Her continued involvement as a producer reflects the studio's dedication to maintaining its momentum and delivering engaging narratives.

As the studio embarks on its next chapter, it remains poised to make further contributions to the entertainment landscape, guided by its commitment to excellence and impactful storytelling.

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