By: Rikki Zagelbaum  | 

Arts & Culture: An Interview with Adam Segal

There are several staple items one might expect to find in a Jewish home. A menorah, perhaps. A shelf of Hebrew books. A shiny set of Shabbat candles next to a colorful painting of the Western Wall. The Segal's house, one of many in Bergenfield, New Jersey, has all of these things. But nestled in the space between a row of books and family albums lies something wholly unfamiliar to the average Jewish home — an Oscar. 

It belongs (temporarily) to Adam J. Segal, the Segal father and founder/president of The 2050 Group, a public relations firm specializing in film and entertainment. A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and a well-respected figure in his field, Segal has worked on advertising campaigns across various media formats, including print, television, radio, and podcasts. Today, his main focus is movies, managing film releases, world premieres, streaming debuts, and award campaigns, often for documentaries and short films. 

While visiting his home, I entered Segal’s office, a film lover’s dream decorated with past honors and projects. Hanging beside a 2009 PR 40 Under 40 award are posters for “Colette (2018),” “The Queen of Basketball (2021),” and “The Last Repair Shop (2023),” which won Best Short Documentary at the Academy Awards ceremony earlier this month. Directed by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers, the film takes viewers into a musical instrument repair shop in Los Angeles, where four technicians work to restore broken instruments in one of the few U.S. districts providing musical equipment for students, free of charge. Providing an intimate glimpse into a corner of the globe that would otherwise have gone unseen, it is a prime example of the sort of impactful work Segal is drawn to.

“I've worked on films that deal with environmental issues, human rights issues, international issues, and domestic issues, like civil rights,” he explained, the evidence written on his walls. His selection criteria are specific: the work must hold intrinsic value and have something positive to offer its audience. For Segal, the business of movie promotion is not just an income but an opportunity to start conversations and impart meaningful change across diverse audiences. In addition to aligning with issues he cares about, “they [the films] absolutely have to resonate with my beliefs,” he told me, “whether that's politically, culturally, or religiously.” 

In case the yarmulka fails to give it away, Segal is a fully observant Orthodox Jew — a rarity in the film industry. This presents unique challenges, particularly around major Jewish holidays and the Sabbath. “A lot of movies open on Friday,” he explained, “and when Friday night is the big opening night, and Saturday is the big second day, I miss all that.” However, he finds that colleagues respect his religious identity, especially once they recognize the success and integrity he brings to his projects. “I live a life that's different, but I find that a lot of people respect that,” he noted. 

However, Segal feels that his commitment to his beliefs and support for Israel does occasionally put him at odds with others in the industry, particularly concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Never were these feelings more prominent than at the Academy Awards ceremony, on the eve of March 10th. While the night was celebratory, as Segal grinned ear to ear beside “The Last Repair Shop” directors, Oscar in hand, it was difficult to ignore the anti-Israel imagery and sentiments, both on the red carpet and on the big stage. Segal himself, at the request of Adi Alexander, father of the 20-year-old American hostage Edan Alexander, wore a yellow ribbon in honor of the hostages currently being held inside Gaza. 

Despite the challenges, Segal is undeterred. In a time when the lines between entertainment and activism often blur, he stands out as a person who understands the stakes, who knows that a well-told story can change minds, influence policy, and even alter the course of history. “That's the primary goal,” he affirmed. “The best type of work is one that you can feel proud of. Having a meaningful impact and leaving something positive for people to connect to… that's what matters.”


Photo credit: Adam Segal
Photo caption: Segal (center) at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party with Ben Proudfoot (right) and Kris Bowers (left)