From the Rice Media Center to the pinnacle of Hollywood’s awards season

Rice alumna Amy Hobby nominated for Academy Award

Rice alumna Amy Hobby ‘86 has been nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Hobby served as a producer for the Netflix biography “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Liz Garbus directed the film, whose title was taken from a quote by the late Maya Angelou.



Using never-heard-before recordings, rare archival footage and her best-known songs, the 2015 film explores the life and times of legendary American singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who was labeled the “High Priestess of Soul” based on her so-titled 1967 album. At the height of her fame, Simone walked away from her family, country, career and fans and moved to Barbados and later Liberia and gave up performing.

Having majored in political science and art history, Hobby has built a three-decade career as an award-winning feature film and television producer. Her work includes feature-length dramas such as “Hamlet” and “Secretary” starring A-list Hollywood stars, including Ethan Hawke, Bill Murray, Sam Shepard and Julia Stiles; documentaries; international features; and television entertainment. She began her career in Los Angeles working on films such as “My Cousin Vinny,” “Ed Wood” and “Wild at Heart” as a producer’s assistant and in the camera department.

Brian Huberman, an associate professor of visual and dramatic arts and filmmaker, taught Hobby when she was a student at Rice in the mid-1980s. “I remember her time studying film at the (Rice) Media Center well,” Huberman said. “She was sharp, smart and clear about making movies. Only our best equipment would suit her needs. She accompanied me on a documentary shoot to Brackettville, Texas, to the old John Wayne ‘(The) Alamo’ set to film Raoul Julia performing as Santa Anna in a forgettable ‘(The) Alamo’ remake. She handled the camera for that amazing interview and the footage of that glorious moment is prized in my collection.”

“The Media Center was a haven for me while at Rice,” Hobby said. “There were Super 8 (film) flatbeds, access to project 35-millimeter prints of great films, and visiting experimental filmmakers like Richard Lester, Bruce Bailey and Stan Brakhage. Brian Huberman fostered independent thinking and gave me the freedom to explore some off-the-wall ideas though film. Brian and the Media Center are why I became a filmmaker. I may not have time to thank Brian and Rice at the Oscars, but I should!”

The 88th Academy Awards will be presented live at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 on ABC.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.