Stern, McIlhargey Launch Four Daughters; Co. Sets 1st Feature, Looks To Tell Inclusive Stories
Navid McIlhargey (center), flanked by his daughters Scarlett (l) and Makenna
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Four Daughters, a development and production company dedicated to telling stories that celebrate inclusion, has launched with its first feature project, The Match. Based on the book by Bruce Schoenfeld (HarperCollins), The Match is inspired by the true story of two remarkable women, professional tennis’ Althea Gibson, the first African-American player to win the Wimbledon, French and U.S. Open singles championships, and Angela Buxton, a lesser known yet accomplished Jewish player from the U.K. The pair formed a friendship that crossed many perceived divides and would lead to triumph at Wimbledon and the French Open as women doubles champions, while enduring unspeakable bigotry. Francesca Gregorini (Killing Eve, The Truth About Emanuel, Tanner Hall) is attached to direct and Julie Snyder (Tanner Hall, Porto, Above Suspicion) will produce.

Four Daughters is founded by longtime friends Richard Stern and Navid McIlhargey who had their respective daughters in mind when they set the mission for the company. Most recently chief product officer at Audible, Stern was a member of the founding team at Amazon Studios and served as head of media products for Sony PlayStation. McIlhargey has two decades of producing experience with senior leadership roles at New Regency, Silver Pictures and Revolution Studios and is an adjunct professor at USC. Four Daughters unites their vast experience with a deep commitment to support the changing film landscape, and will develop three to five projects per year.

“Our society is starting to have substantial and long overdue conversations about privilege, discrimination and inclusion. We’re all gaining deeper insights into the intersectionality of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity and how they form a nuanced spectrum of human identity,” explained Stern. “As allies of these movements, we wanted to create a safe space where inspirational stories depicting the complexities of identity could be told and passionate storytellers could find a home. That’s our mission.”

While the entertainment industry considers how to move forward in the face of the pandemic, Four Daughters felt it was the right time to open the company. Just as the content they seek is hopeful, so too is the opportunity to embrace momentum and change.

“To live our mission at Four Daughters, how we tell stories is as important as the stories themselves,” noted McIlhargey. “We want to align creative teams that are inclusive, authentic and representative, so that we can contribute to a future that expresses a diverse perspective, on screen and in production. Our dream is to have our daughters grow up in a future world where a company like Four Daughters would be a charming anachronism because EVERY company operates this way, and filmmaking is the representative and inclusive art form we all want it to be.”

The Match is a story that celebrates the legacies of Gibson and Buxton as two trailblazers who defied racism, gender inequality and antisemitism in one of the greatest sporting upsets in history and in so doing began a complex and moving friendship that changed their lives.  It is emblematic of the stories Four Daughters was built to tell.

“Four Daughters’ mission resonates with me because growing up I did not see many strong women characters in film, and as such my directing career has largely been focused on the female journey,” commented director Gregorini. “The Match is a story of bold women who support each other and won’t be sidelined. I find that incredibly inspiring, and am honored to help bring their groundbreaking story to life.”

“I’m delighted to have a chance to partner with Francesca again, having witnessed firsthand the extraordinary vision she brought to Tanner Hall--the first film we worked on together.” said Snyder. “And I am incredibly proud that Richard and Navid have chosen The Match as Four Daughters’ inaugural film. I look forward to working with them to bring Althea and Angela’s powerful story of sportsmanship, tenacity, courage, and friendship to audiences everywhere.”

And while Wimbledon may be canceled this year, Althea Gibson’s statue--unveiled last year in front of Arthur Ashe Stadium (the U.S. Open’s main venue) at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York--stands as a reminder of what’s possible when people are united to upend what is considered commonplace. That’s the kind of narrative--whether based on real events or sprung from the imagination--that Four Daughters supports.

As Stern concluded, “The world is changing. We’re reexamining what’s important. The rules of how we create together are being rewritten daily and we wanted to be a voice in that conversation so that we can challenge the status quo to reach higher.”


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