Anderson, who most recently was chief of staff to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, is one of the highest ranking members of the Obama administration to make the crossover into entertainment. She’ll be working as managing director of military and national security initiatives at Strong Eagle with David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud, directors of the documentary “The Hornet’s Nest” and branding specialist Bert Bedrosian.
“I am drawn to this team and the way they are approaching content,” she said, calling them “smart, effective and business minded,” but determined to take the “high road” when it comes to projects.
The company already has two projects in the works for its military hero series, to be released in 2016, including “Citizen Soldier” and “Danger Close.” The company also produces sports and action adventure programming for TV and digital networks.
From 2010 to 2014, Anderson served as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and as chief of staff and special assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter. She then served as chief of staff to Pritzker. She was twice awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, and National Journal named heras one of “5 Women Who Shape Defense Policy.”
In an interview, Anderson said that she was looking for the next step in her career after working for 11 years in government, and was drawn to the company as a way to “manifest my commitment to our service members and their families.” She said that it was Gen. John Allen, who had been commander of the forces in Afghanistan, who invited her to a screening of “The Hornet’s Nest,” where she met Tureaud and Salzberg and was struck by the documentary’s non-political focus on troops in Afghanistan.
“If you watch this film you are going to get as close as you can possibly get to what it was like,” she said, noting that some veterans have taken to calling it a form of “digital medicine.”
“There was some healing aspect to this particular film,” she said. “It had a lot of integrity and it took the high road to a lot of complicated content.”
Last year, Anderson put together a private screening of “The Hornet’s Nest” for senior national security officials, with Carter, Allen and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen among those who attended, along with former National Security Adviser Jim Jones, and former representatives Jane Harman and Ellen Tauscher. In addition to high-level endorsements from military officials and veterans groups, it is the only movie to be enshrined into the National Infantry Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Benning, Ga.
Anderson will be helping to develop private sector partnerships for the company’s releases, and has been participating in creative sessions. Among the projects also in the works is a project called “Medevac Girls,” an outgrowth of scenes from “The Hornet’s Nest” featuring an all-women Medevac unit.
She said that so far, “what I have found is that Hollywood and Washington DC have a lot in common. It can be its own variety of competition, where you have teams hoping their idea wins the day, wins the funding. I say that in a fun way. There is just a lot of power dynamics that are the same, and what I love is a lot of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity.”