Born to a Jewish family in Queens, New York, and the youngest daughter of a Russian-immigrant father, Bonnie Hammer, 68, has seen and done almost everything there is to see and do in American television.
Starting her stunning career as a producer for Boston public television, Hammer has since 2013 headed a TV empire as chairman of NBCUniversal Cable, home to successful brands that include USA, The Sci-Fi Channel, E! and production companies Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios.
Chosen by The Hollywood Reporter as the most powerful woman in entertainment in 2014, Hammer attributes her successful leadership of the network to a lifetime of industry experience.
“There’s a kind of a freedom because I’m not second-guessing myself, and that’s one of the beautiful things that come with being a little older, a little wiser and literally not climbing anymore,” she told the magazine.
After renewing her contract at NBCUniversal last year, Hammer will continue leading the $69-billion network into her 70s.
In October, Hammer announced that NBCUniversal would be restoring the Emmy Award-winning, anti-discrimination “Erase the Hate” campaign.
Originally launched by Hammer two decades ago when she led USA Network, the reinvented campaign was rolled out across her entire network this year.
“I’ve always believed people aren’t born knowing how to hate... they are taught to hate,” she told staffers.
“And, as storytellers, we also have the power to inform and teach through the stories we create and share.”
At the heart of the new effort is an accelerator program that aims to provide grants and mentoring to individuals and organizations fighting hate across the US.
In August, NBCUniversal released an Erase the Hate anthem, featuring award-winning producer Timbaland and Princess Nokia. The anthem’s release marked the one-year anniversary of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Hammer has been the recipient of numerous awards for her social activism, including a 2012 honor from B’nai B’rith for “her commitment to initiatives confronting racism and bigotry.”
Beyond her television empire and social activism, Hammer is also known for her photography. Her works have been featured in Time, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Los Angeles Times.