Will Packer

Will Packer (born April 11, 1974) is an American film producer. He is the founder of Will Packer Productions[3] and Will Packer Media.[4]

Will Packer
Born (1974-04-11) April 11, 1974 (age 47)
Education St. Petersburg High School
Alma mater Florida A&M University
Occupation Film producer
Notable work
Produced Think Like a Man, Obsessed, Ride Along, About Last Night
  • Nina Packer (2001-2009)[1]
  • Heather Packer (2015-present)[2]
Children 3

Packer has been included in several high-profile lists, including The Hollywood Reporter's "40(ish) Most Powerful People in Comedy,[5] GIANT magazine's "The GIANT 100", Jet magazine's "Who's Hot To Watch in 2008" and Black Enterprise's "Most Powerful Players Under 40."[6] As of 2018, Packer has produced or executive produced 28 films (including Girls Trip, Ride Along and Think Like a Man) that have grossed worldwide over $1 billion combined at the box office.[7][8]

Early lifeEdit

Packer was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. He graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1991 and began attending Florida A&M University that fall. In 1996, Packer graduated magna cum laude from FAMU with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.


Rainforest FilmsEdit

It was at FAMU that he started filmmaking with colleague and future business partner Rob Hardy while participating in an internship with veteran producer Warrington Hudlin.[9] In 1994, Packer and Hardy produced their first film, Chocolate City,[10] for $20,000 and Packer helped broker a small distribution deal with Blockbuster video.[11] After graduating, Packer and Hardy moved to Atlanta, Georgia and co-founded Rainforest Films. Packer produced and oversaw the company's studio-financed and self-financed films and distribution projects.[12][13] Packer and Hardy's vision was to make films that would appeal to black audiences who hadn't seen genre films starring people like themselves.

In 2000, Trois, Rainforest Film's first movie to be released theatrically, grossed over $1.2 million and became the fastest million-dollar grossing film independently distributed by African Americans.[12][13] Trois was in the Top 50 Highest Grossing Independent Films of the year, according to Daily Variety,[14] and Rainforest Films was at #34 on the list of Top 100 Film Distributors of 2000 listed by The Hollywood Reporter in August 2001. Due to the success of their first film, Packer and Hardy were listed among the "New Establishment" of Black power brokers in Hollywood.[13][15][16]

In 2001, Packer helped broker a deal with Sony to produce and distribute urban films including Trois's sequel, Trois: The Escort, and Motives.[13][17] The film Lockdown, released on home video under this Rainforest-Sony collaboration, was one of Columbia Tri-Star's top selling independent releases. In 2005, Rainforest Films released The Gospel.[16] At this time, Packer started using the shortened moniker "Will Packer".

Packer and Hardy wanted Rainforest's films to include established actors and actresses as well as those who are up and coming. 2007's This Christmas, a film about a middle-class family that reunites at Christmas time for the first time in many years, stars veteran actresses Loretta Devine and Regina King as well as R&B superstar Chris Brown in his feature film debut.[18] Packer produced five #1 films with Rainforest, Stomp the Yard, Obsessed, Takers, Think like a Man and Ride Along. His biggest hits with Rainforest have been Think like a Man, which grossed over $96 million worldwide after being released in April 2012,[19] and Ride Along, which brought in box office receipts totaling nearly $150 million as of April 2014.[20]

In television, Packer, along with Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III, and Rainforest Films partner Rob Hardy, are co-founders of Bounce TV, a United States television network airing on digital terrestrial television stations. Promoted as "the first 24/7 digital multicast broadcast network created exclusively for African Americans," Bounce TV launched on September 26, 2011 and features programming geared toward blacks and African Americans in the 25–54 age range.[21]

In June 2014, Packer and Hardy dissolved Rainforest Films. The pair were included in a lawsuit brought by former business partner Bernard Bronner in late June 2014.[22]

Will Packer ProductionsEdit

In 2013, Packer launched Will Packer Productions. In July 2013, he signed a two-year deal with Universal Television to develop new projects for the studio.[23] Later that year, he signed a three-year deal with Universal Pictures.[24] Packer-produced films under the Will Packer Productions banner include #1 box office openers Ride Along 2, No Good Deed and Think Like a Man Too along with The Wedding Ringer and Girls Trip. Girls Trip was the highest grossing live action comedy of 2017[25] and the first film written, directed, produced, and starring African-Americans to gross over $100 million.[26] The film went on to gross $140 million on a $19 million budget. Packer also served as executive producer on NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton and on 2016 television mini-series Roots.

He has produced the comedies Night School (2018), starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, What Men Want (2019), starring Taraji P. Henson, and Little (2019), starring Marsai Martin and Issa Rae.[27]

Will Packer MediaEdit

In 2017, Packer launched Will Packer Media, a branded content and digital production company, in partnership with Discovery Communications and Universal Pictures.[28] As part of the launch, the company acquired digital ad firm Narrative_[29] to serve as the new venture's branded content arm, WP Narrative. In 2018, Will Packer Media acquired women's lifestyle site xoNecole.[30]

Will Packer Media projects include television series Ambitions and Ready to Love for OWN;[31] Power Star Live, a 30-minute live series for Twitter;[32] and digital series The Baxters, produced for Roma Downey's LightWorkers platform.[33] The company's WP Narrative_ division was a 2018 Webby Award Winner[34] and 10th Annual Shorty Award winner[35] for its work producing video short #TakeAKnee. WP Narrative was also honored for its #BackedByAxe campaign created for Showtime's Billions, winning at the Clio Entertainment awards,[36] 10th Annual Shorty Awards[37] and 2018 D&AD Awards.[38]

Central Ave, an entertainment magazine series, debuted November 4, 2019 on Fox television stations.[39]

Personal lifeEdit

Packer is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (inducted into the Beta Nu Chapter at FAMU).[40][41] Packer married his first wife Nina Packer (general manager of Bryant Management and Dir. Of Operations for Blueprint Group, the artist management firm for Lil' Wayne and his YMCMB label from 2007-2014) in July 2001 and they have two daughters together, Nija Packer and Maya Packer. They were divorced in February 2009.[42] Packer proposed to his fiancé Heather Hayslett live on stage at the 2013 Essence Music Festival.[43] They were married on Friday, August 28, 2015 in Georgia.[44]


Feature filmsEdit



  1. ^ "Producer Will Packer , wife Nina Packer and daughters attend the... News Photo". Getty Images. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  2. ^ Charli Penn. "EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Will Packer Marries In Surprise Wedding In Georgia". Essence.com. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Will Packer | Will Packer Productions". Willpackerprods.com. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  4. ^ Media, Will Packer. "Narrative_: an integrated, story-driven marketing solutions agency". willpackermedia.com. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  5. ^ "The 40(ish) Most Powerful People in Comedy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  6. ^ "Jet - Google Books". Johnson Publishing Company. January 14, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  7. ^ RYAN FAUGHNDER (August 8, 2017). "'Girls Trip' producer Will Packer finds success by targeting an underserved audience". Los Angeles Times. latimes.com. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  8. ^ https://www.boxofficemojo.com/people/chart/?view=Producer&id=willpacker.htm
  9. ^ Jasfly, By. "FAMU-FSU College of Engineering :: Will Packer, the Hollywood Hitmaker". Eng.fsu.edu. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  10. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0655510/
  11. ^ "Campus Campaign To Sell His Movie Rob Hardy And Buddies From Florida A&m Made The Circuit Of African American Colleges Plugging His Erotic Thriller, "Trois." - philly-archives". Articles.philly.com. March 14, 2000. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Rainforest Films". Rainforest Films. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  13. ^ a b c d "About The Company" (Press release). Rainforest Films. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008.
  14. ^ Variety Staff (July 26, 2001). "Limited release B.O. winners – 2000". Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  15. ^ "PANEL: A Conversation With Will Packer And Rob Hardy Of Rainforest Films". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
  16. ^ a b "Unlikely pair win fans with 'Gospel'". Los Angeles Times. October 10, 2005. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "Rainforest Films". Archived from the original on December 30, 2008.
  18. ^ "This Christmas (2007)". Artistdirect.com. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  19. ^ "Think Like a Man (2012)". Box Office Mojo. July 8, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  20. ^ "Ride Along (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  21. ^ Molloy, Tim (September 25, 2011). "Black-Oriented Bounce TV Begins, Betting on Classic Movies". Thewrap.com. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  22. ^ "EUR Exclusive: 'Think Like a Man Too' Producers Sued for Gross Mismanagement, Abuse of Control". Eurweb.com. April 25, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  23. ^ Lesley Goldberg (July 9, 2013). "Film Producer Will Packer Inks Overall Deal With Universal TV". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  24. ^ Fleming, Mike (October 31, 2013). "Universal Makes First-Look Feature Pact With Hitmaking Producer Will Packer". Deadline. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  25. ^ ""Girls Trip" Just Broke A Major Milestone & The Timing Couldn't Be More Perfect". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  26. ^ "'Girls Trip' Crosses $100 Million at Domestic Box Office". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  27. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (May 3, 2018). "Issa Rae Joins 'Black-ish' Star Marsai Martin In 'Little' From Universal & Will Packer Productions". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  28. ^ "Will Packer Starting Production Company With Backing From Discovery and Universal". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  29. ^ "Newly launched Will Packer Media acquires creative and tech agency Narrative". The Drum. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  30. ^ Spangler, Todd (January 18, 2018). "Will Packer Media Acquires Women's Lifestyle Site xoNecole". Variety. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  31. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 17, 2018). "OWN Orders 2 Will Packer Series: Drama 'Ambitions' & Unscripted 'Ready To Love'". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  32. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 30, 2018). "Twitter Boasts 30 New or Renewed Video Pacts, Details ESPN, NBCUniversal Live Programming". Variety. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  33. ^ Evans, Greg (January 30, 2018). "Roma Downey's LightWorkers Teams With Will Packer On 'The Baxters' Digital Series". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  34. ^ "Take A Knee | The Webby Awards". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  35. ^ "#TakeAKnee - The Shorty Awards". goo.gl. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  36. ^ "Billions - #BackedByAxe". Clios. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  37. ^ "#BackedByAxe - The Shorty Awards". shortyawards.com. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  38. ^ "#BackedByAxe WP Narrative_ |SHOWTIME Networks |D&AD Awards 2018 Pencil Winner |Use of Social Media". DandAD. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  39. ^ Albiniak, Paige (October 28, 2019). "Fox Prepares to Step Out on Central Ave". Broadcasting & Cable. 149 (10): 19.
  40. ^ "News Headlines – Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 2012". Famu.edu. December 7, 2006. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  41. ^ ”FAMU’s Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Receives College Chapter of the Year Award”, July 25, 2008. Accessed May 3, 2009.
  42. ^ "Producer Will Packer Proposes During Essence Music Festival… [PHOTOS + VIDEO]". Straightfromthea.com. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  43. ^ "Will Packer Proposes Live at the 2013 ESSENCE Festival". Essence.com. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  44. ^ "JUST MARRIED: Hollywood Producer Will Packer & Heather Hayslett Tie The Knot In Surprise Backyard Wedding! | The Young, Black, and Fabulous®". Theybf.com. August 30, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  45. ^ Max Weinstein (December 19, 2013). "N.W.A. Biopic 'Straight Outta Compton' Brings On Writer". Vibe. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  46. ^ "David E. Talbert and Will Packer Pair Up for Thanksgiving | Shadow and Act". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  47. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (May 14, 2015). "Universal Sets Release Dates For 'Legend', 'A Meyers Christmas'". Deadline. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  48. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (April 13, 2016). "Universal Retitles Family Comedy 'A Meyers Christmas'". Deadline. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  49. ^ Dominique Hobdy (February 25, 2014). "Malcom D. Lee and Will Packer Team Up for New Movie 'Girls Trip'". Essence.com. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  50. ^ Jeff Sneider (March 19, 2014). "'South Park' Writer to Take 'Girl's Trip' With Malcolm D. Lee, Universal". Thewrap.com. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  51. ^ Dave McNary (June 22, 2015). "Will Packer Sets Female Comedy at Universal". Variety. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  52. ^ Busch, Anita (May 13, 2016). "Regina Hall To Star In Will Packer's Untitled 'Girl Trip' Film At Uni". Deadline. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  53. ^ wilsonmorales (May 31, 2017). "Gabrielle Union To Star & Produce "Breaking In" With Will Packer - blackfilm.com/read | blackfilm.com/read". Blackfilm.com. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  54. ^ Dave McNary (April 13, 2017). "Kevin to Star in Comedy 'Night School'". Variety. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  55. ^ Fleming, Mike (June 29, 2017). "Malcolm D. Lee To Direct Kevin Hart In Universal Comedy 'Night School'". Deadline. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  56. ^ Shankman, Adam (January 11, 2019), What Men Want, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Taraji P. Henson, Max Greenfield, retrieved June 25, 2018
  57. ^ Chism, Tina Gordon, Little, Issa Rae, Marsai Martin, George Lott, retrieved June 25, 2018
  58. ^ "'Black-ish' Breakout Marsai Martin to Star in 'Little' for Will Packer, Kenya Barris (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  59. ^ Fleming, Mike (March 21, 2016). "Michael Ealy Will Star In 'Jacob's Ladder' Reboot". Deadline. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  60. ^ wilsonmorales (March 22, 2016). "Michael Ealy To Star In "Jacob's Ladder" Remake With Producer Will Packer | blackfilm.com/read". Blackfilm.com. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  61. ^ Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield to Star in Stella Meghie’s ‘The Photograph’
  62. ^ Elizabeth Wagmeister (May 7, 2015). "NBC Comedy Orders: 'People Are Talking,' 'Crowded,' 'Superstore'". Variety. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  63. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "Upfronts 2015: The Overachievers". Deadline. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  64. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 30, 2015). "'Roots' Remake Set For History, A&E, Lifetime; Will Packer, LeVar Burton Produce". Deadline. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  65. ^ Cynthia Littleton (April 30, 2015). "'Roots' Remake to Air on History, A&E and Lifetime Next Year". Variety. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  66. ^ "Will Packer to Executive Produce 'Roots' for Three Networks". Eurweb.com. May 2, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  67. ^ Lesley Goldberg (May 8, 2015). "'Uncle Buck' Remake Ordered to Series at ABC". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  68. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 23, 2016). "'Being Mary Jane': Will Packer As EP, Erica Shelton Kodish Showrunner". Deadline. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  69. ^ "Breaks: Will Packer to Executive Produce Being Mary Jane | Video | Celebrities | BET Breaks". BET. May 25, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  70. ^ "Upfront". Bet.com. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  71. ^ http://www.oprah.com/own-readytolove/introducing-ready-to-love-a-new-dating-series-from-will-packer
  72. ^ White, Peter (February 12, 2019). "Will Packer To Produce 'The Atlanta Child Murders' For ID". Deadline. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  73. ^ Petski, Denise (November 13, 2018). "'Ambitions': Robin Givens To Lead Ensemble Cast Of Will Packer's OWN Drama Series". Deadline. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  74. ^ "BET Networks Announces the Cast for "Bigger," The Will Packer Executive Produced Original Series". The Futon Critic. July 30, 2019.
  75. ^ https://www.ajc.com/blog/radiotvtalk/bet-streaming-service-launches-with-will-packer-raunchy-hilarious-bigger/K5bti4ouo0WK64caG8DJhO/amp.html
  76. ^ Porter, Rick (January 10, 2020). "Kevin Hart Comedy 'Night School' Based on Movie Snags NBC Pilot Order". The Hollywood Reporter.
  77. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (February 27, 2020). "'Night School': Shanola Hampton To Star In NBC Comedy Pilot". Deadline Hollywood.
  78. ^ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/quibi-buys-donald-sterling-docuseries-will-packer-1252007

External linksEdit