Canadian producer Erika Olde is making waves for women in Hollywood

The producer behind TIFF '17's Woman Walks Ahead talks about carving out a career by being unapologetically yourself


I grew up watching movies with my late father. We’d watch them together, even though our tastes were the polar opposite of one another. He loved BraveheartLast of the Mohicans, and Hoosiers: real guys movies, whereas Pretty Woman is my favourite film of all time. It didn’t matter, films moved us both. I realized from a very early age the power of a medium which could reduce my otherwise impenetrable, mountain-man father to tears.

He worked in the financial services industry and our family was constantly on the move. We were never in one place long enough for me to enroll in schools, so, as a result, I was homeschooled. In my nomadic life, movies became my constant touchstone; the films of Nancy Meyers, Gary Marshall, and Nora Ephron were the architects of my entertainment and escapism. These filmmakers became my unwitting tutors who ultimately inspired me to pursue my dream to create movies in which you can lose yourself for a few hours, no matter what else is going on in your life. Like Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman, I too wanted “the fairytale.”

The first three movies I produced, The Female Brain (starring Sofía Vergara), Woman Walks Ahead (starring Jessica Chastain, it premieres at TIFF ’17 on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Roy Thomson Hall), and Home Again (starring Reese Witherspoon), all feature strong female leads and were crafted by the immensely talented female directors Whitney Cummings, Susanna White, and Hallie Meyers-Shyer respectively. On Home Again, I had the extreme honour and privilege to be part of a project which saw Hallie Meyers-Shyer helm her first movie. She was the same age as when her mother Nancy directed Private Benjamin in 1980, thus creating a piece of cinematic history.