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Redstone is the daughter of Phyllis Gloria Raphael and Sumner Redstone and is the sister of Brent Redstone. Her grandfather was Michael Redstone, who was the original founder of National Amusements, the parent company that now owns the majority of the Redstone media empire. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree from Tufts University in 1975. She received her law degrees at Boston University School of Law in 1978 (J.D.) and in 1980 (LLM). She practiced corporate law, estate planning and criminal law in the Boston area before joining National Amusements.
Since 1999, she has been president of National Amusements, one of the top ten movie exhibitors in the United States. Redstone has expanded the company's international footprint and its exploration of new technologies.
In 2000, while at National Amusements, Redstone entered the Russian theater market, giving patrons there the opportunity to experience high-end luxury theaters. In 2010, Redstone and her partners purchased the theaters that they had built and formed Rising Star Media, of which she was chairman, and turned it into the top grossing cinema chain in that country. Redstone and her partners then sold Rising Star Media to Russian theater operator Cinema Park in 2011.
In 2007, Redstone and her father feuded publicly over issues of corporate governance and the future of the cinema chain. Documents have been made public which verify that, as part of a settlement from Sumner's first divorce, all of Sumner's stock is in irrevocable trusts that will be left to his grandchildren.
In 2011, Redstone became co-founder and managing partner of Advancit Capital, LLC, an investment platform focusing on early stage in media, entertainment and technology. In addition, she is co-chairman of MovieTickets.com, Inc. and is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the National Theatre Owners Association (NATO).
On February 3, 2016, her father resigned as CBS executive chairman after questions arose about his mental competency. CBS's board then offered Shari Redstone the position of non-executive chair, but she declined. The CBS board announced that Les Moonves replaced Sumner Redstone as CBS Chairman. In 2016, Redstone, who at the time was vice chairperson of CBS and Viacom and president of National Amusements (the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom), gave the following statement on succession: "my father's Trust states his intention that I succeed him as (non-executive) Chairman at CBS and Viacom, and also names me as a Trustee after his death." She stated that she wanted the chairs of each company to be "not a Trustee of my father's trust or otherwise intertwined in Redstone family matters," and she nominated Les as the CBS chair.
On February 4, 2016, against Shari Redstone's desires, Viacom's board of directors named Philippe Dauman, already the CEO and president, the chairman, replacing Sumner Redstone.
On January 17, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Shari Redstone was pushing for CBS Corp. to merge with Viacom, with Redstone also gathering names for new board members at CBS.
On August 13, 2019, the Associated Press reported that Shari Redstone became the chair of the board for the reuniting of CBS and Viacom as ViacomCBS.
Her ex-husband was president and director of National Amusements until two years after they divorced.
As of January 2018, Redstone is a member of the board of directors at Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the board of trustees at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She is also on the board of directors of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Redstone recently joined the board and executive committee of "Our Time", a mass-membership organization that stands for the economic interests and political inclusion of young Americans aged 18-30. She sits on the local advisory board and executive committee for BUILD, a nonprofit organization that uses entrepreneurship to propel low income youth through high school and into college.