Wonder Women of New York 2022: Mina Lefevre

Mina Lefevre
Mina Lefevre (Image credit: Meta)

As the daughter of immigrants, Mina Lefevre was expected to follow a very narrow career path: doctor, lawyer or engineer. Lefevre was duly obedient, double-majoring in economics and integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley and studying for the MCATs when she suddenly took a sharp and lasting swerve.

“I remember having this moment thinking I really want to pursue my dream,” said Lefevre, head of development and programming at Meta, where she oversees the development and production of original series for Facebook’s video platform and spearheads funded original content that lives across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

That dream, spurred by the film theory courses she’d loved in college, involved pursuing entertainment in some form. “That was literally the last thing my parents wanted me to do,” Lefevre said of venturing into the wildly unstable fields of independent feature films in San Francisco, and then temp jobs in television in Los Angeles. “My parents were mortified.”

Rising Through TV Ranks

Eventually, she found steady work, climbing the ladder at places like ABC Family (where she became VP, development and programming, helping launch the channel while developing shows like Pretty Little Liars) and then MTV (where she was head of scripted, doubling the number of such projects with shows like Faking It, Scream and Finding Carter).

Her Iran-born parents were mollified, though, when she first held a job title of director. “My mom kept telling everyone I was a director,” Lefevre said. “It’s very hard to describe what an executive actually does.”

Lefevre said all that studying in college did pay off, as her economics courses gave her a deeper understanding of budgeting. “I probably stick my head too much into budgets for my head of production,” she said with a laugh.

While she has shifted from linear to streaming and has largely moved away from scripted, Lefevre said her past stops also provided the necessary skill sets. “Content and creative are really at the core of what I do,” she said. “What’s changing is the way you’re telling the story and giving it to the consumer. It’s exciting to work at a place able to figure out new ways to communicate that and work with talent to reach their fan base even more directly.”

Content and creative are really at the core of what I do. What’s changing is the way you’re telling the story and giving it to the consumer.”

— Mina Lefevre

Since guiding Facebook Watch to its debut back in 2017, Lefevre has steered to screens of various sizes programming like the Daytime Emmy Award-nominated series Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris and a spinoff with Gloria Estefan and her family. The lineup cuts across genres to include talk shows, reality, sports and docuseries. High-profile talent has come on board, such as Steve Harvey (STEVE), Taraji P. Henson (Piece of Mind with Taraji), Courteney Cox (9 Months with Courteney Cox) and Stephen Curry (Stephen vs. The Game). She has also developed youth-oriented programming for Messenger’s Watch Together with the likes of Cardi B and Post Malone. 

Ricky Van Veen, head of global creative strategy for media partnerships at Meta, said Lefevre has made the shift seamlessly. “Mina’s ability to adapt her strong creative instincts from linear to digital and now even the metaverse is truly impressive,” he noted, adding, “She’s beloved by internal colleagues and industry peers alike for her honest yet warm ‘get things done’ attitude.”

Lefevre said adapting comes with the territory and not just because traditional notions like half-hour and hour formats fall away at Meta. When the company started Facebook Watch, the challenge was to explain what it was trying to do in creating programming that would have a uniquely intimate relationship with an audience and build a community, a social-media water-cooler conversation. 

Then, of course, the field got more crowded. “It’s incredibly competitive out there now,” she said. “The piece of the pie is getting smaller.”

Setting a New Path at Meta

Still, Lefevre is confident the company has found a “unique” new path that they’ll be pushing: “A big point of difference for us is that we’re looking toward a One Meta approach — to find content for all the surfaces, from Facebook to Instagram to Messenger to the richer and more immersive experiences in VR and AR, so the audience can have whatever experience they want.”

The new approach is a win-win-win, she said, benefiting not just audiences and Meta but also the talent who will achieve much broader distribution. 

“We’ll be serving so many surfaces and finding the best ways for consumers to watch content and form a community around it,” she said. “That, to me, is exciting.” ■

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller has been writing about television for 30 years since he first joined Variety as a staff writer. He has written about television for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Vulture and numerous other publications.