Deborah Riley

“Bravery is something I wish that somebody had spoken to me about much earlier in my career. Just how much of it you need and how much belief in yourself and your skills you need to have.“

Ms Deborah Riley is a four-time Emmy award winning production designer and art director. Her portfolio includes award-winning film and television sets like Game of Thrones, Moulin Rouge! and the Matrix, as well as the closing ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

During her time at UQ, Ms Riley became interested in the drama of spaces and upon graduating from a Bachelor of Design Studies, pursued her interest in set production at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA).

Her first breakthrough into film came in the late 1990s when she was hired as a set designer for The Matrix. The film broke new ground in the world of visual effects and won four Academy Awards. She later went on to work as Assistant Art Director and Art Director on a number of high-profile films including Anna and The King, 21 Grams, and Moulin Rouge! Her success from these productions saw her selected as an Art Director for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony, where she was responsible for the construction and delivery of the sets and props.

In 2013, Ms Riley secured a position as Production Designer for cult TV series Game of Thrones, a show which has been widely cited as one of the most successful television shows in history due to its film-like production values with intricately detailed set design and elaborate locations. During this time, she managed an art department in excess of 100 people, across multiple countries.

Ms Riley’s work on Game of Thrones has won her four consecutive Primetime Emmy awards for Outstanding Production Design, and nine prestigious awards including the three US Art Directors Guild Awards, Australian Production Design Guild Awards, BAFTA Television Craft Award, British Film Designers Guild Awards, and the Online Film and Television Association Awards.   She was honoured in 2019 by the Australian Government with the G’Day USA Outstanding Achievement in Television and Film.


Vice-Chancellor's Alumni Excellence Award
Image of Deborah Riley


Bachelor of Design Studies