Channel 4’s Controller of Film and Drama Tessa Ross will become the National Theatre’s new Chief Executive, replacing Nick Starr who steps down at the end of August.
A member of the NT’s board since 2011, Ross will take up the post from November working alongside outgoing Director Nicolas Hytner. She will formally be made Chief Executive in April 2015 when she will be joined by the incoming director Rufus Norris.
Norris described himself as “thrilled and honoured” to be given the chance to work alongside Ross, who he lauded as “an extraordinary woman: a world-class producer, a tireless supporter and promoter of both emerging and established artists, a great manager and businesswoman.”
Educated at Oxford University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Ross began her career as a literary agent. Her subsequent exceptional career to date saw her take on Head of Drama for the BBC’s Independent Commissioning Group before moving to Channel 4 in 2000.
Her early years at the innovative channel saw her carve a reputation for commissioning risky and ground-breaking drama, including the hugely successful series Shameless, White Teeth, Angels and Sex Traffic. Appointed Head of Film4 in 2003, followed by Controller of Film and Drama in 2008, her tenure has seen her develop and finance such distinguished films as 12 Years A Slave, Slumdog Millionaire, The Last King Of Scotland, Hunger, The Iron Lady and This Is England.
Commenting on Ross’ appointment, John Makinson, Chairman of the NT, said: “Tessa’s international experience and reputation as a producer and executive need no introduction, and her partnership with Rufus Norris will give us the strongest possible platform on which to extend the National Theatre’s creative and commercial leadership.”
The incoming Chief Executive paid tribute to the NT’s hugely successful current leading pair, saying: “I’m incredibly excited to be joining the National Theatre: one of our most iconic and significant cultural institutions and a place that I’ve loved since I was very young. Under Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr’s leadership, it’s been an exceptional and inspiring home for the theatrical and creative communities, and I’m privileged to be working with Rufus to build its next chapter.
“I leave behind an absolutely brilliant and passionate team at Film4, and an important organisation in its mother, Channel 4. It’s been a pleasure and honour to work with the writers, directors, producers and the many other talented people I’ve collaborated with during my time there, relationships I look forward to continuing. I’ve loved every minute of the work over the last 13 years, and am privileged that the public purpose that has been at the heart of our work – of discovering, nurturing and supporting great artists and great work – is something I shall be able to continue to champion and celebrate in this new role.”
Lisa Burger, the NT’s current Chief Operating Officer, will continue her role as the third member of the executive team.