As Senior Vice President of Development and Production at Walden Media, Naia Cucukov has a passion for identifying inspiring projects and helping them grow into movie magic. A native of southern New Jersey, she grew up loving film and ultimately discovered her passion for production while receiving her B.A. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University. Like many entertainment executives before her, Naia started in Hollywood as an assistant at CAA followed by a post at Legendary Pictures. She then made the transition into the role of Creative Executive at Bold Films followed by the opportunity to work with Sir Richard Branson as the Director of Development at Virgin Produced. While at Virgin, Naia oversaw all creative programing for the Virgin Produced Channel onboard Virgin Airlines and co-produced the award-winning short film Departure Date, the first film shot on a plane and edited while 35,000 feet in the air. Since her start at Walden Media in 2013, Naia has hit the ground running, cultivating a diverse slate of films. On behalf of Walden she has overseen production for: The Giver, based on the bestselling book by Lois Lowry; Universal and Working Title’s Everest, based on the true story of the 1996 Everest disaster; Disney’s The BFG, a Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved novel; and A Dog’s Purpose, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and based on the bestselling novel. Upcoming projects include: Lionsgate’s Wonder, based on the bestselling middle grade novel, directed by Stephen Chbosky; and Sony Animation’s The Star, told from the perspective of the animals in the manger. She has also been instrumental in Walden’s push into television, acquiring the rights to Ann M. Martin’s beloved Babysitters Club Series, and setting up shows with various networks and streaming sites.
Additionally, Naia volunteers with Reading to Kids and the Brown University Alumni Organization, sits on the Templeton Foundations Film Steering Committee and is an active member of Women in Film and CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment). She spends her free time with her Miniature Dachshund, Sharky.