Graves studied political science at Stanford University and worked as a real estate agent. She was recommended for a position on the ratings board in 1988, and was appointed to lead the administration in 2000 by Jack Valenti. She personally hires all the other members of the ratings administration and is the only one whose identity is disclosed to the public. She has defended the Administration's rating system against critics who accuse it of being too lenient toward violence, saying that when the MPAA surveys parents, "What we find with the violence category is that they think they're getting correct information from us."
- Richard Verrier (April 8, 2010). "The MPAA's Joan Graves watches out for the movie watchers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- "Our People". Motion Picture Association of America. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
- Sonja Bolle (August 2008). "Discretion Adviser". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Bryson, Carey. "Joan Graves Interview on the MPAA Movie Rating Process". About.com. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
- Sneed, Tierney (January 7, 2014). "Don't Expect Any Major Changes to the MPAA Ratings System in 2014". US News. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
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