Women In Television Take The Spotlight At NYTVF

by Erika W. Smith

Imagine a panel of female showrunners – the women who make the big decisions on hit series like Madame Secretary, VEEP, The Good Wife and Louie. Now, imagine that the panel hasn’t been billed as a pinkified, sparkly ~women in television~ event. That’s exactly what happened last week at the New York Television Film Fest.

On Tuesday, October 20, NYTVF held its Creative Keynote Panel, titled “Running The Show; A Big Picture Conversation On Creating For The Small Screen.” Notice something about that title? There’s absolutely no mention that all the participants are women. During the talk, Blair Breard of Louie, Barbara Hall of Madame Secretary, Anya Epstein of The Affair, Stephanie Laing of VEEP, Michelle King of The Good Wife and Courtney Kemp Agboh of Power talked about their career trajectories, the importance of mentorship, the challenges of making a series for cable vs. network vs. Amazon, the ideal episode length for a television series and how TV series develop as they remain on air.

L-R: Blair Breard (Louie), Barbara Hall (Madam Secretary), Anya Epstein (The Affair), Stephanie Laing (VEEP), Michelle King (The Good Wife), Courtney Kemp Agboh (Power), Terence Gray (New York Television Festival Founder/Executive Director)


Refreshingly, the panel focused almost entirely on subjects that you’d ask any showrunner, whether male or female – though there were a few laughs as the panelists riffed on “having it all.”

As Courtney Kemp Agboh of Power said, “I’d love for it not to be a thing when there are a bunch of women showrunners. I’d love to not have it be pointed out all the time – like, ‘Isn’t it great that you’re black and you’re a woman? Well, isn’t it great that my show is great?”

Or, as moderator Margaret Lyons of New York magazine put it after introducing the panelists, “What they have in common is they’re really, really great at their jobs.”

Photo credits: vintage advertisement, Lauren Caulk/NYTVF 

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