The Paley Center LA Celebrates African American TV Showrunners

By Naomi K. Bonman

These last few years have been booming with African-American writers in television. From ‘Empire’, ‘Star’, ‘Power’, ‘Dear White People’, ‘Insecure’, ‘Claws’, and ‘Luke Cage’, just to name a few, these shows all have one thing in common—they are ran by an African American.

Courtney A. Kemp (Power) and Janine Sherman Barrois (Claws) pose for a picture prior to the discussion. (Photo Credit: Brian To/The Paley Center for Media)

To commemorate Black History Month, the Paley Center for Media Los Angeles gathered prominent, Black showrunners, creators and executive producers to discuss the current state of the industry. I was able to attend the panel discussion which I found to be very enlightening and informative. The panelists consisted of: Cheo Hodar Coker, Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Luke Cage’; Courtney A. Kemp, Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Power’; Janine Sherman Barrois, Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Claws’; Karin Gist, Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Star’; Prentice Penny, Creator/Showrunner, ‘Insecure’; and Justin Simien, Creator/Executive Producer, ‘Dear White People’. The moderator for the evening was Nischelle Turner, Entertainment Tonight host.

The discussion ranged from topics surrounding the increase of more African Americans and show business who are calling the shots to the content that we choose to put out there. It is refreshing to see more of our stories told BY US.

“We can now say that ‘I want more people of color as directors’,” Barrois explains. “’I want more people of color in editing jobs. You don’t have to say if they send you all white writers, “I’m not hiring all white writers’, why would I do that?”

The industry is now becoming more diverse to where opportunities are expanding for people of color. No more are we only considered as a possible option.

To listen to the discussion, please click below:

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