About Lael Smith

Interested in the synthesis of history, literature and film ever since the publication of her undergraduate thesis on Thelma and Louise and the Turner Thesis, Smith has written, directed and produced film and television adaptations of novels and short stories by writers such as Nanci Kincaid, Lee Smith, Richard Bausch and George Saunders. She has also written original works of screenwriting and fiction.

Smith earned a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from the University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing Program in the George Lucas Cinema School. She studied photography at LSU and fiction writing with Aimee Bender and others at UCLA and playwriting and fiction at the Sewanee Writers Conference where she was a Tennessee Williams Fellow. 

Smith has worked in film development and acquisitions at specialty and mainstream film studios and production companies, including The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Dreamworks, and Propaganda Films, among others. She taught screenwriting at Johns Hopkins University and worked at a literary magazine.

She executive produced an adaptation of George Saunders’ award-winning short story, “Sea Oak,” for Amazon Studios as a television series pilot starring Glenn Close, Jane Levy, Jack Quaid, and directed by Hiro Murai.