Have you ever had lunch with Lauren Sanchez? It’s a whirlwind of energy and ambition. I got the full experience in 2017, when Sanchez—a television news personality, helicopter pilot, and, at the time, wife of Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell—was trying to get attention for Black Ops Aviation, her company that helps film and TV productions on aerial shots. (It worked.)
Over salads on the rooftop of the Waldorf, I expected Sanchez to name-drop and list the vague busy-making projects of a typical mogul spouse. There was some of that, and she’s definitely a piece of work in the over-the-top Beverly Hills striver sense of the phrase. But Sanchez had actually started a real business in a male-dominated field and had collaborated with filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Catherine Hardwicke. She’d partnered with the prolific billionaire producer-financier Dan Friedkin on an unscripted company, and she was making commercials and other complex video projects for, among others, the Blue Origin aerospace company, owned by Jeff Bezos.
So, no, I wasn’t surprised when Sanchez and Bezos ended up getting together about a year after our lunch. Nor was I shocked to see that WSJ, the Wall Street Journal’s magazine, recently devoted about 4,000 words to Sanchez—her upcoming all-female mission to outer space, her children’s book, and, interestingly, her new production company, Adventure & Fellowship. That last entity piqued my interest because, in addition to the Bezos promo films and charity spots, she said she wants to fund and develop scripted projects. The enterprising companion of one of the world’s richest men (and a driving force behind Amazon Prime Video) could be a significant Hollywood player if she wants—or at the very least a ripe source of dumb money in a challenged film economy. “We’re focusing on great stories,” Sanchez told WSJ. “They can be movies, commercials, documentaries.”