Los Angeles-based creative collective Wild Gift has signed Pakistani-Canadian director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for commercial and branded entertainment assignments in the U.S., her first representation for commercial work.
Obaid-Chinoy is a journalist, filmmaker and humanitarian known for her Academy Award-winning documentary shorts Saving Face, a film about a plastic surgeon who returns to Pakistan to provide surgeries to victims of acid attacks, and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, the story of a woman in Pakistan who was sentenced to death for falling in love.
Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, Obaid-Chinoy is the first filmmaker from Pakistan to win an Oscar and the first female film director to have won two Oscars by the age of 37. Recently, it was announced that she will direct a highly anticipated upcoming Star Wars feature starring Daisy Ridley. Obaid-Chinoy will be the first person of color and the first woman to direct a Star Wars film.
Last year, she helmed two episodes of the Disney Plus series Ms. Marvel, featuring the franchise’s first Muslim character, Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan who acquires superpowers similar to that of her hero, Captain Marvel. The New York Times included her episodes in its annual “Best Episodes of TV” list in 2022 calling them, “ingenious and surprisingly moving.”
“Sharmeen is in a class all her own,” said Wild Gift Founder David Mitchell in a statement. “She’s a groundbreaking and dynamic global artist whose life has been dedicated to inspiring and enriching the lives of others. Sharmeen is a true, honest, and passionate storyteller who has a gift for creating meaningful work that transcends traditional marketing. She is amazingly talented and versatile, and I simply love her work. Throughout her career she has created powerful documentary work, emotional live action scripted films and vividly imaginative animation. There is nothing she can’t do.”
“At heart I’m a storyteller and I think that brands today are telling wonderful stories that go beyond the predictable,” said Obaid-Chinoy, also in a statement. “Stories that affect the consumer. Stories that affect our planet. Stories that affect all of us. I want to hold up a mirror to society. I want people to think about the decisions that they’re making. I think that brands are talking about things that they didn’t talk about before that may not be linked necessarily to their brand but definitely are linked to their consumers. If a consumer connects with what you stand for and what you champion and what your worldview is, you’ve already won the battle. These are the stories that speak to me, and I love Wild Gift’s unique ethos of creative and authentic storytelling.”
No stranger to advertising, Obaid-Chinoy directed a Coca-Cola commercial for the Middle East/South Asia market for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that told the story of an aspiring young Pakistani footballer whose father created footballs for the World Cup by hand in their rural village.
“I want to continue to work with brands that say, ‘What is our place in the world today?’” said Obaid-Chinoy. “I think it is important for brands to tell stories that leave a lasting impact, that will make us rethink the way we see the world, rethink the way we’ve done things. For me the key is for a brand to tell a story that helps re-define humanity in some way, re-define issues in some way, re-define the way we see ourselves.”
Obaid-Chinoy has made more than two dozen films in more than 16 countries under her production house label SOC Films, a Pakistan-based film and animation production company. Obaid-Chinoy is also the founder of Waadi Animations, Pakistan’s first female-led animation company. Waadi produced Pakistan’s first HD animated and highest grossing animated film feature film, 3 Bahadur and in 2020, Pakistan’s first animated short film, Sitara: Let Girls Dream, distributed globally by Netflix.
“For the last 20 years I’ve been talking about and championing the stories of men and women who are risking their lives every day and who are seeking grassroots change,” said Obaid-Chinoy. “I’m bringing that same approach to directing a commercial. How do we tell this story and how do we make the world root for you? How do we make your consumer root for you? That’s what I’m bringing from my experience and my work around the world.”
Obaid-Chinoy is currently working on a documentary about fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg and is set to direct Paramount’s upcoming feature Brilliance, based on the best-selling suspense-fantasy novel by Marcus Sakey.