Longer Bio

Dr. Yalda T. Uhls


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.

Entertainment Career

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

Creative Executive

Fun Facts

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


Character Day

If you missed the webinar social and emotional learning through media, you can catch the recording here. A brief description is included from the site below.

“How do you disseminate ideas on the science of character, social emotional learning, and flourishing in today’s world far and wide? Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards Tiffany Shlain spoke aboutCharacter Day, a movement that unites people from all over the world to discuss these ideas. It’s now in its third year, and over 20,000 events at schools and organizations around the world have signed up for Character Day, which is set for September 22, 2016. Character Day is a free annual day where students and educators from around the world screen films on the science of character development from different perspectives. Students dive into free printed discussion materials and join an online global conversation around character and the importance of developing character strengths (resilience, grit, empathy, courage, kindness) — all rooted in evidence-based research.



In today’s 24/7 digital world, parents are concerned about the messages their kids are soaking up from the media they consume.  In this recorded webinar, viewers also will hear from Dr. Yalda T Uhls about Common Sense Media’s new rating system which identifies movies and TV shows that teach children character strengths. Yalda shared how Common Sense Media’s new rating tools help parents discover, use, and choose movies and TV shows that portray positive character strengths and life skills in a way that experts have determined can support kids’ development.”


From edWeb.net



Interesting Links for Educators

Here are some pages on my website that are useful and interesting for schools and educators!

Edutopia is great resource for educational materials.

Great Schools is a website with very useful for information about any school in the country, private or public.

Psychology in Action is a UCLA graduate student blog that writes about really interesting psychological research.

Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence Dr Steinberg’s book now in Paperbook – excellent resource for understanding the research behind how teens brains and bodies develop

This site (SafeSmartSocial)has tutorials and information on some of the latest social media apps popular with kids.

Take this test to find out how many times your (or your teens) personal data has been exposed to hackers!

A Digital Glossary to understand all the social media jargon your kids use

Test your knowledge of technology with this Pew quiz.

Key and Peele — how tone is lost in texting

Can we Autocorrect Humanity?  Prince EA

Video on this article at the bottom on Sleep and why it’s important – Dr Daniel Siegal

Are screen-addicted kids frying kids their brains?

Kids Want Fame More Than Anything

Internet Addiction—Epidemic or Fad?

The Science of Selfies

Kids and Multitasking, with Patricia Greenfield

Adolescents and Electronic Media, with Patricia Greenfield

The Science of Why Your Kids Can’t Resist Frozen