Juliette Feld’s grandfather was a rock ‘n’ roll promoter who expanded into other forms of live entertainment. His business, Feld Entertainment, eventually grew to include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Disney On Ice, stadium motor sport events and the recently launched Marvel Universe LIVE! The family business he founded is remarkable, but 31-year-old Juliette Feld herself is his greater legacy.
A petite, beautiful mother of a 6-month-old, Feld is also smart, focused and determined. Before age 30, she became America’s first female motor sports producer. She’s now an Executive Vice President and lead producer of the live Marvel show, the company’s most ambitious production yet. MBA-trained, Feld works closely with her father and two older sisters to keep the company strategically focused on its mission to provide the highest quality family entertainment around the world. As a young female executive in a male dominated world, she’s a fantastic role model for other women and girls.
Feld and her two sisters grew up immersed in the family business. “Every vacation was spent at Disney On Ice rehearsals or the Ringling Bros. winter headquarters near Tampa, Florida.” She grins, “Clown Alley clowns were my babysitters.“
She fell in love with Chicago and met her future husband as an undergrad at the University of Chicago. Now, her marriage is also immersed in the family business. For example, every Valentine’s Day is spent in Chicago at Monster Jam—one of her motor sport productions. Feld laughs, “What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than at Monster Jam?”
In the newest Monster Jam format, one athlete—male or female—competes in seven events, driving three different tricked-out vehicles (trucks with huge tires, super jacked-up golf carts and ATVs). Feld proudly notes that Monster Jam is an equal opportunity sport for women and men. “The women often win!” she declares. “It’s very aspirational for women and girls.”
This petite woman makes no small plans. Feld spent two years developing Marvel Universe LIVE! The extravaganza includes more than 25 Marvel characters, flying, live body burns, crashes, new projection technology that transforms the arena floor from NYC to the Himalayas, and more.
“Because it’s Marvel, people have high expectations based on the comic books and movies. This is the first time they will see all their favorite superheroes in one show and we can’t disappoint.” The production comes to Chicago’s United Center this September, so you will soon be able to decide for yourself if Feld achieves her goal.
Feld says watching families react to her shows is one of the best parts of the job. “I get to see the audience consume the experience—watching parents and children react as Spiderman flies right at them.”
Being attentive to the audience can lead to difficult decisions, too. Her family announced earlier this year that elephants will be phased out of the three Barnum & Bailey productions by 2018. “We listened to the customers,” Feld says. “They are no longer comfortable with elephants in shows.”
Fortunately, all those elephants will have a good retirement waiting for them at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC). The CEC was established on 200 acres outside Orlando, Florida in 1995 for the retirement, reproduction and research of Asian elephants.
“As a family, we are very proud of our elephant conservation work,” Feld says. “It translates to better support for about 40,000 elephants in their native habitat too, particularly Sri Lanka.” Feld delights in the fact that more than 26 elephants have been born at CEC. “This is more than the births in all other facilities and zoos in the US put together,” she says.
In short, with her good brains, good values, make-no-small-plans sensibilities, and enthusiasm for and pride in her work, Feld is already carving out a bigger and better legacy for her family’s remarkable business while serving as a role model for other young women with an interest in business.
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