Debra Martin Chase
October 11, 1956
Great Lakes, Illinois, United States
Debra Martin Chase was an American film and TV producer who was best known for producing the widely popular films "The Princess Diaries" (2001), "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2005), and "Sparkle" (2012). Born in Great Lakes, Illinois and raised in the cozy Southern California town of Pasadena, Chase grew up completely obsessed with movies. In later interviews, she would tell tales of sneaking off to the movies every Saturday as a child, where she worshipped the larger-than-life stars she saw each week on the silver screen. When it came time to enter college, however, Chase chose to study law. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and later earned her law degree from Harvard. After graduating from Harvard in the early 80s, Chase took a job practicing law at a Houston-based law firm and quickly realized that she disliked it. But with few other career options, she had no choice but to stay with the firm for a number of years. By the late 80s, however, Chase started becoming restless with the dullness of her law career. She soon began exploring her options by working as a freelance writer, and additionally worked on the campaign team for Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis' 1988 Presidential Campaign. By the late 80s Chase decided she had enough, and left her stable career in law to take an executive assistant position at Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles. Chase loved the work and quickly began to absorb as much information as she could on film producing. Her first big break came in 1992 when she was asked by Denzel Washington to run his production company Mundy Lane Entertainment. Chase oversaw the day-to-day operations at the company until 1995, having produced the Oscar-nominated sport documentary "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream" (1995) during her tenure there. Then in 2000 Chase decided to branch off onto her own by forming her production company Martin Chase Productions. The company had a great deal of success almost immediately, having produced the smash hit romantic fantasy film "The Princess Diaries" in 2001. Chase produced several more highly-acclaimed films and TV shows over the next several years, most notably "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and the BET sitcom "Zoe Ever After" (2016). In 2017 she also produced the biographical drama "Harriet," about the life story of the iconic American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.