Maria is an award-winning content creator and producer, senior television executive, and author. In the 1990s, she made a radical shift in her career, leaving her practice as a tax attorney to become a television writer. She not only succeeded, but became an influential leader in entertainment media, with a long list of credits for developing and producing culturally relevant content for brands like Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., ABC, Nelvana, Sesame Workshop, and NuvoTV.
Her journey began in Puerto Rico, where she was born and spent her early childhood, before her family settled in Hartford, Connecticut. She attended Yale University, where she received a BA, and then New York University School of Law, where she received her JD.
Her switch from law to entertainment, and what she’s accomplished, since, is a testament to her willingness to take risks and not let conventional thinking hold her back. Asked in an interview with The Passion Economy: Mindmeet Journal, what energizes her, she underscored the power of that mindset: “The possibility that you can create your reality,” she replied, “because once you have a desire and you go for that desire and you manifest that desire in your life—it’s like an onion—it opens up another layer of what you want.”
Today, Maria is the President of Perez-Brown Media Group, Inc., a consulting and production firm that builds original content for television and digital platforms, and provides consulting services for producers of niche and targeted audiences. She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University, where she teaches graduate courses in pilot writing, revision, and pitching.
Prior to running her own media company, she held executive roles as senior vice president of programming & development at NuvoTV, for five years, and as president at Dorado Entertainment for eight years, preceded by more than a decade in various executive producing roles at Nickelodeon.
Maria has been recognized for creating two prominent children’s shows. The first was the pre-school series Gullah Gullah Island, which was named by TV Guide, as one of the nation’s “Top 10 Children’s Television Shows,” and also received an Emmy nomination. More recently, she created a live-action comedy series for Nickelodeon called Taina, which was named Best Children’s Series by the Imagen Foundation and UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza). Taina was particularly notable for being the only realistic depiction, during its run, of a New York Puerto Rican family.
Among her other honors and accolades, is the Annual Achievement in Television Award from the National Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Sciences, and the New York University Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Service to the Latino Community. In 2006, she executive produced the 20th Anniversary of the Hispanic Heritage Awards from the Kennedy Center, which aired on NBC and Telemundo.
In addition to her achievements in television, she is the author of two books—Mamá: Latina Daughters Celebrate Their Mothers, and Zuri Pi Wonders Why. She is also the editor of Latino Leaders Speak: Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph.