Kahli Small, a veteran film executive who worked on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Milk,” died on Sunday. She was 53.
Small joined Focus Features as a production exec in 2004 and contributed to the production of several films, including “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Milk” and “Eastern Promises.” She also worked on “Sin Nombre” and advocated strongly for then-first-time filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga. She later joined the production company GK Films as executive vice president of production and development, and was involved in the development of the Oscar-winning movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Like many independent film executives, she later moved into television, becoming senior vice president of drama development at NBC and later an executive vice president at the network.
“This is heartbreaking. Kahli Small was first and foremost a filmmaker’s executive,” Focus Features CEO James Schamus, co-founder David Linde and former president John Lyons said. “For Kahli, a project was only worth championing if it commanded true passion from great talent. And champion she did: every day she worked with us at Focus was a day fueled by passion and belief in the transformative power of good work. In struggling with this insidious disease for over a decade, we never once heard her mention her struggle or let it interfere with her work load and commitment, and she was a terrific and loving mother to Bo and [wife] to Jeff. A force, that Kahli! She will be sorely missed.”
Small is survived by her husband Jeff Okin, Anonymous Content manager and producer, and her son, Bo. In lieu of flowers, her family asks for donations to Cedars-Sinai to help support metastatic cancer research.