5 Questions With… Anna Derryberry, Director, National Geographic Studios

For over a decade, Anna Derryberry has worn many hats at National Geographic working in a variety of production roles. She started out as a Production Coordinator for the television show “Explorer” and is currently a Director for National Geographic Studios, which is the company’s in-house production team.

Over the years, Anna has produced hundreds of hours of programming that airs globally. She’s involved with all facets of the production process, whether its creative editing, script writing, music, graphics, or voice-overs, and she’s spent a lot of time out in the field on shoots. 

1. You are a co-chair of Women@NatGeo, one of National Geographic’s Business Employee Resource Groups. What has been a highlight of this experience for you?

I am honored to serve as co-chair with Melayne Cohen and Sara Keller. A true highlight for me would be this year’s Women’s History Month programming. We have each tackled our own corners of programming, but we coordinated together and with our board to have amazing events that have been featured across The Walt Disney Company. Before that, it would be watching our board and members really reach out to the other BERGs in support over the challenges that everyone has faced over the past year. I think we have really grown into our role as allies in the company.

2. Working for National Geographic’s in-house production team, what has been the most memorable project you’ve been part of? 

I have been fortunate enough to go out in the field on many shoots, but the most memorable would be the shoot we did at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Picture this: It is day two at 6 a.m. and not quite light outside. The zoo has no power due to an earthquake earlier in the night that brought down the power lines. My colleague Billy Pinkney and I are carrying the lights and gear from a golf cart down into the cheetah run where we’ll be filming for the day. A zoo curator comes out of the bushes and says, “We have a lion that is unaccounted for. You need to shelter in place.”

3. It’s Women’s History Month! Who are some women who have played a positive role in your professional life?

I’ve been very lucky to have innumerable women who’ve played positive roles in my professional life. Kathy Davidov, who hired me for my first job at Nat Geo in 2010 and let me sit in and give notes on cuts, which was not typical for an assistant. Melanie Sams, who brought me to the channel side of Nat Geo and opened up my career to the whole world, literally. Jess Connell and Hannah Chismar, who worked on the international side and were so gracious with me as I learned the ins-and-outs of the channel’s production process. Chris Weber, who has pushed me to develop projects and create opportunities for myself. Jules Oldroyd, Traci Harris, Crystal Zhang and Sara Keller, who said “Yes!” many times over to my pitches for programming. The women on my team, who over the past year have shown me how strong and resilient they are each in their own way, allowing me grace as I figured out how to be a team leader virtually. 

4. Rumor has it you applied for a LOT of jobs before landing at National Geographic. Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self going through the job application process?

Be patient with yourself. Trying to get a job is a full-time job, so you’ll have good days and you’ll have not so good days. It’s hard to see the end of the process when all you’re doing is sending out resumes and cover letters with no responses. But the minute that door opens, you’ll see all the opportunities you’ll have.

5. After working from home for the past year due to the pandemic, what has been the silver lining for you?

My silver lining has been exactly that: Being home. Normally I’m travelling for shoots or for vacation, and I can be gone for two or three weekends a month. I had lots of travel planned for 2020, but instead, I’ve been home every day with my husband and pets. While it has been boring on some days, it’s also been nice to lean into it, accept it as it is, and really enjoy this time together.