Here is an open letter from Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity, remembering his mentor, Tom Sherak (pictured above). The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences died Tuesday at 68.
I first met Tom Sherak when I was a student at UCLA. Tom taught a course called “Distribution 101.” I was fortunate enough to not only have him as my teacher, but for him to become my mentor. That first class led to what would become a lifelong friendship and an incredible source of personal encouragement and strength for me.
I always knew that no matter what the issue or how seemingly unsurmountable the problem, Tom would be there to guide me. I deeply mourn his loss, but more importantly, celebrate his life.
This is an incredible man. Tom strived to make the world better, and we should honor and remember him for his life-changing contributions to industry, medicine and philanthropy. In an industry where adversity is too often the norm and where new ideas are often fought with vigor, Tom was a consistent voice for positive change. He relished in the success of others — not for personal financial gain but for the love of being a great mentor and friend.
Tom’s spirit will continue to live on through the many people he guided, helped and loved. His contributions are immeasurable.
I miss him already and will always honor his legacy by always practicing what he brought to a very tough business — take care of others, embrace change, practice random acts of kindness and expect nothing back. Tom taught us to give all we have every day from a place of positive change and be happy for our peers who succeed. More than anything, be there for those who need us in down times, and be there to celebrate successes in good ones.
Let’s carry on his spirit and legacy and try to make this industry just a bit more forgiving, a bit more supportive and join in celebrating a spirit who will live within us forever.