Yalda T Uhls, MBA, PhD, author and award winning child psychological researcher, spent over 15 years as a senior film executive at studios such as MGM and Sony, and then earned a PhD in psychology. Her expertise on how media content are created, along with the science of how media affect children, informs her unique perspective.
Yalda’s research, conducted with UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center, focuses on how traditional and newer media impact the social behavior of preadolescents. Her findings were featured in Time Magazine, the NY Times, USA Today, NPR and others, and cited in scholarly publications. In 2015, the 83 year old national organization of leading experts in child development, the Society for Research in Child Development, gave Yalda’s graduate school research its highest honor: Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation.
Yalda works with schools, companies and non-profits at the intersection of positive youth development, entertainment media and scientific research; she is passionate about translating science into useful knowledge and takeaways. Dr. Uhls has been invited to share her knowledge with the White House, Pixar, the NFL, Google, public school districts, Harvard Business School and others. She is frequently called upon to offer her expertise to many media outlets, including print, radio and TV and she strives not to give into the agenda of any “side” in the discussion, and instead speak to the facts while recognizing the perspective of all stakeholders (industry, parents, academics).
Yalda teaches at both the high school and college level. Her parenting book Media Moms and Digital Dads: A Fact not Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age hit the bestseller list for Amazon new releases and Book Soup and is used as a textbook in college level psychology courses. She assists the national non-profit Common Sense Media on entertainment outreach and consults on children’s content such as Dot, awarded best new animated series at this year’s KidScreen.
As the American-born child of Iranian immigrants, Yalda cares passionately about diversity and inclusion and looks to educate youth and adults about myriad ways that explicit and implicit biases affect development. Having benefited from the University of California system – her BA is from UCB, and her MBA and PhD are from UCLA – she believes in the value of public school education and works to pay it forward as an adjunct professor at UCLA and a tutor for homeless children at the non-profit School on Wheels. Most importantly, she is the mom of two digital teens, a boy and a girl.
For the PDF of this bio, click here.
Some personal words
I grew up in Berkeley, am part of a family of incredibly educated people (see my mom’s Ted talk here), but I personally love both popular culture and more intellectual pursuits. I lean towards big-picture strategic thinking, and I am sometimes honest to a fault. My favorite shows right now are House of Cards, The Affair and Blackish. My favorite movies range from To Kill a Mockingbird to Cool Hand Luke to Jerry Maguire.
I spent over 15 years in the film business working as senior level studio executive developing movies with writers and directors, and later as a producer working on television and movies.
Partial List of Films I worked on as Movie Executive
My Family aka Mi Familia (starring Edgar James Olmos, Jimmy Smits and Jennifer Lopez in her first role)
Tree’s Lounge (written and directed by Steve Buscemi, accepted at the Cannes Film Festival)
Permanent Midnight (starring Ben Stiller with Owen Wilson)
Stigmata (starring Gabriel Byrne and Patricia Arquette)
As a producer some of the people I worked with include FX Network, CBS, Kelsey Grammar, New Line, Todd Field, and Don Cheadle.
GOOGLE 2006- 2008 Consultant
Helped create and implement the Santa Monica Speaker Series, a series of speaking events that brings together leaders in the entertainment industry to share their unique perspective on the industry, the creative process and technology’s role in this rapidly changing world.
MGM PICTURES 1997- 2000
Senior Vice President of Production
Supervised multimillion-dollar films from initial stage to final distribution. Worked with writers developing their scripts, directors, actors and marketing executives.
Artisan Pictures 1995-1997
Sr VP of Production
Created a film division to develop and produce theatrical movies, supervised a staff of ten, and presided over the production of over ten films. Movies included TREES LOUNGE, starring and directed by Steve Buscemi and PERMANENT MIDNIGHT starring Ben Stiller.
New Line Pictures 1993-1994
Director of Acquisitions
Attended film festivals such as Cannes and Sundance in order to scout projects for international co-productions and acquisitions. Involved in the acquisition of HOOP DREAMS. Found, advocated for and presided over the production of MI FAMILIA aka MY FAMILY directed by Greg Nava and starring Edward James Olmos and Jimmy Smits.
Sony Pictures 1990-1992
Named one of the top 100 people in Hollywood by Fade In Magazine
Mentioned in Robert Rodriguez book REBEL WITHOUT A CREW and in Steve Buscemi’s book MY FIRST MOVIE