Making Moves & Movies with Stephanie Roush

From Yarrow Point to New York City, Stephanie Roush aims to “make it” as they say in the highly competitive entertainment industry. And after a decade of hard work, she is doing just that.
Look for her name as co-producer on the upcoming film, Zoo, to be released in 2024 starring Michael Zegen from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Zoo is a modern-day Paper Moon following an about-to-be-evicted NYC real estate agent as he spends one last day with his 10-year-old daughter who is about to move to Florida with her mother. Stephanie is also in post-production on two other feature films, one of which is produced and will be distributed by NEON, the second-largest independent distributor in the country (second only to A24).
Notably, all three features are directorial debuts. Stephanie has found working with first-time directors to be an immensely gratifying experience, not unlike being a counselor at summer camp (she and her sister Caroline were longtime campers and staff members at Four Winds Westward Ho on Orcas Island).
“I really love this experience of creating a little 'movie family' and getting to spend these intense, long days with a group of people who are all creatively vying to make the best thing possible. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I find it exhilarating,” she says.
For Stephanie, being in the industry is like spinning 100 plates at once working on massive projects that require years of work before they see the light of day. So in addition to producing independent films, Stephanie co-founded her own company, Roller Studios, with her business partner, Oliver Hamilton, in 2021. Together they formed a boutique creative agency for brands and projects of all shapes and sizes. 

Before running Roller Studios, the two were frequent collaborators, often frustrated with the way other production companies or agencies were running projects. When an opportunity for them to work directly with San Francisco-based venture capital firm, Craft Ventures (founded by David Sacks), came along they seized it not knowing it would be the jumping-off point for a business. “Part of what sets Roller Studios apart is that at our core we are storytellers, and even if storytelling is the only thing you get right, you still did better than 90% of the other work out there,” says Stephanie. 

Yet producing and directing was not the path Stephanie imagined herself taking. After graduating from Middlebury College with a degree in Comparative Literature in 2014, she didn’t quite know what she wanted to do. After a brief stint at The History Channel, Stephanie landed a job at a fledgling food media startup, Panna Cooking. It was there that she cut her teeth producing, creating hundreds of hours of content in just a few short years. In 2018, she won a James Beard Media Award as a producer for her work with acclaimed North Carolina-based chef, Vivian Howard. After Panna was sold to Discovery Communications (The Food Network) she moved on to work at a Brooklyn-based documentary studio following her passion for storytelling. It was there that Netflix greenlit the 3-part documentary miniseries she co-developed, which went on to become The Principles of Pleasure, premiering on Netflix in 2021.
In the fall of 2020, after working on documentaries for a few years, Stephanie took a leap of faith and left her full-time job to go out on her own. In addition to her feature-length films, she has produced over ten short films, two of which have premiered at the Academy-Award qualifying Seattle International Film Festival—Choices (2021) and The Launch (2022). She’s felt so proud to premiere these films in the city she grew up in and feels a newfound gratitude to be from a place with an avid filmgoing community (Seattleites see more films per capita than the residents of any other American city) and a prestigious film festival.
With the Writers Guild of America on strike as the entertainment industry grapples with how to move forward with artificial intelligence and other threats to individual creativity, Stephanie can’t be sure about what the future will hold for her professionally. She’ll keep busy with Roller Studios work—she’s in production on a high-end branded series and has a few other big projects in the pipeline. In August, she and her husband Mitchell will finally enjoy a honeymoon after getting married in June 2022.
“I’m excited to spend the summer getting inspired,” says Stephanie. “It’s a rare opportunity to actually have some time and space to think about what’s next.” Keep an eye out for all of Stephanie Roush’s upcoming projects coming to screens near you soon!