Shawn Tolleson

Shawn Tolleson is an award-winning director, writer and producer who divides her time between Vancouver, British Columbia and Los Angeles, California.

She recently sold an original script to Lifetime, Santa’s Boots, which she directed and executive produced in June and July.  It stars Tony-nominated Megan Hilty and Oscar-nominated June Squibb and will premiere on Lifetime on December 8th in the US and on SuperChannel on December 23rd in Canada.  She also sold her one hour drama pitch, Midnight Sun, to CBC and just finished writing the pilot and series bible.  In late 2017, she was selected from 1000+ submissions for the Meryl Streep/Oprah Winfrey Writing Fellowship for Women for her original feature script Yazoo Cryin’.

She is currently in post-production on the independent feature DUSTWUN, for which she co-wrote the screenplay and serves as producer.

She directed her second feature, Deadly Sorority, a stylish thriller, for Lifetime/Reel One.  It stars Moira Kelly (One Tree Hill, The West Wing) and Greer Grammar (Awkward) and premiered on Lifetime Movies in May 2017.

Her debut feature as a writer/director, Saturn Returns, is in the midst of its film festival run, having played in 23 festivals to date.  It has won seven awards including Best Feature at Beaufort International Film Festival and Port Orchard Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize at Cinema on the Bayou, Best Actress for Erin Chambers at the Sutter Creek International Film Festival, and Best Screenplay at the Mountain Film Festival.  The film stars Jordan Belfi (Entourage), Nicholle Tom (The Nanny, Masters of Sex), and Miles Gaston Villanueva (Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, Jane the Virgin.For more information on Saturn Returns, click here.

Shawn directed five short films that have played around the world in film festivals, including her proof-of-concept short Shakespeare’s Henry IV starring Martin Sheen as King Henry.  She wrote and directed 13 episodes for the first webseries created parallel to a network televisions show, FOX’s The Visitor with John Corbett, produced by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich.

She has directed 10 plays including a Sam Shepard world-premiere for the MET Theatre in Los Angeles, plays by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams. She assistant directed more than 10 plays for such legendary theatre directors as Gerald Freedman (Obie Award winning director of the original production of Hair), and Joseph Jefferson-winner Victoria Bussert, to name a few.

Additionally, she’s sold a feature pitch to Warner Bros., is a Sundance Producer’s Lab Fellow, and a Lincoln Center Theatre Lab-West Directing Fellow.  She was a finalist (top 5 from over 500) for the ABC/DGA Episodic Directing Fellowship, a finalist for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and finalist for the Film Independent Screenplay Lab.

She worked for 8 years as a producer and production manager on 100+ projects including commercials, music videos and high fashion stills with such talents as the Rolling Stones, the Dandy Warhols, Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, and more. She was the West Coast producer for world-renowned, fashion photographer Steven Meisel for two years, producing dozens of shoots.  She produced commercial campaigns for Coke, BMW, and T-Mobile for such companies and Ridley Scott and Asso., MJZ and A Band Apart.

Between her time working in production and directing features, Shawn worked as an entertainment career coach for 10+ years through her company Strategy Coaching.  As the premiere coach working actors, directors, writer, producers, DPs, composers and others, she coached thousands of entertainment industry professionals to formulate, strategize and achieve career breakthroughs.  Her clients include Motion Picture and Television Academy members, series regulars on top 10 television shows, series creators, and more.

Shawn started her career as an actor, performing in over 100 plays from Shaw to Shakespeare to Chekov for the VITA Shakespeare Festival, the San Jose Shakespeare Festival, and more.

She holds her B.F.A. in Acting and Directing from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Drama.  She is a US citizen and a Canadian Permanent Resident, and the proud mother of twin girls, Niccola and Allegra.