Katie Mota: “He was a connector”

Sonny – what a life you lived and legacy you have left behind. 

If it were you writing this you would have the perfectly witty thing to say. Even over email, a relatively mundane medium, you always found a way to make it interesting and make me laugh. 

I had the luck of meeting Sonny early on in my career. I was 24 years old and just starting off in the world of entertainment for social change. I was endlessly curious about the history of the field and everything that had been done. Sonny was 81, and he had lived through it and been a part of it all. To have the opportunity to learn from him and work together over the following years was truly a gift.

I appreciated his honesty and directness, how he always told it like it is. I remember when I started my first company and gave it a name that was very hard to pronounce for native English speakers. Sonny looked at me and said, “Well that’s a fucking PR nightmare.” But I was stubborn and in love with the meaning of the word, so I kept it. And of course in one of my first TV interviews the host struggled to pronounce the name and then skipped over it. Sonny was right, I laughed to myself, and later changed the name.  

I was always amazed by Sonny’s endless curiosity about people and life. Sonny witnessed such a dramatic shift in the world during his lifetime, but he never missed a beat. He stayed up on everything and loved to have spirited debates about whatever might be going on. He had a way of always finding the humor in life. Over the years, we became close friends, as did our families. We enjoyed numerous dinners with him and Cely, as well as brunches celebrating the birth of our children, and many lunches in between.

When Sonny and I met I was living in Vermont and he was living in LA, seemingly worlds and generations apart. We did not think our lives were connected in any way other than work, until eight years later at an anniversary party for him and Cely where I ran into Alice Hirson, my mother’s godmother, and we learned that our families shared a near and dear friend. 

It is funny the ways that life brings people together. And bringing people together was one of Sonny’s favorite things. He was a connector, creating bridges between people, professions, and worlds, endlessly fascinated by the power and innovation that would be born from it. Sonny, I am forever grateful for your friendship, support, and inspiration.

Katie Mota
Executive Producer/Co-President
Wise Entertainment