Meet the Woman Responsible for Most of the Top Shows in Your Netflix Queue

Badass Women celebrates women who show up, speak up, and get things done. Lisa Nishimura is an August 2019 InStyle Badass 50 honoree. 

Lisa Nishimara
Photo: BRINSON+BANKS/The New York Times/Redux

Lisa Nishimura has an eye for excellence. As vice president of original documentary and comedy programming for Netflix, she's brought like the now-iconic Making a Murderer, epic films such as Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed 13th, and groundbreaking standup comedy such as Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette to the forefront of pop culture.

The content she’s acquired for Netflix so far has earned everything from Emmys to Oscars to BAFTAs, and even a couple Peabodys in between. Earlier this year, she was promoted to VP of independent film and documentary features — a role in which she is sure to continue dazzling viewers with poignant, original, and award-winning TV. “Being a small part of people genuinely connecting to a well-told, infinitely powerful story on a global scale is an honor beyond what I imagined,” she says.

Making a badass: Nishimura says she thinks a badass is “someone who acts from her own truth, irrespective of environment or circumstance.” With her track record of going to bat for undeniably unique programming, it’s safe to say she fits the bill. Nishimura adds that becoming a mother about 10 years ago has made her feel badass too — especially since she delivered her son at home about two minutes after a midwife arrived. “[That’s] re-framed my sense of my own capabilities,” she says.

Changing the game: As the ultimate tastemaker, Nishimura has become one of the most powerful women in her industry, which, to the average human, can be a little intimidating. “When you’re doing something with no blueprint or historical precedence, it can be anxiety-provoking or thrilling,” she admits. But this powerhouse of course prefers the latter. “Learning to overcome and to ultimately embrace and thrive in ambiguity has been a real game changer.”

All eyes on others: The executive says she finds the most joy in recognizing other people’s creative talent and seeing their dreams through to fruition. “[It] is incredibly exciting, a massive responsibility, and a true honor,” she says. Her main goal is simple: tell incredible stories. “[I think] when one connects with a well-told story, it is quite magical.” We, and Netflix’s near 150 million subscribers, would have to agree.

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