Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yes, There Are Asian-American Showrunners...

"So you've read a writer and invited them in for a meeting," she began sweetly, leaning forward for emphasis. "Is there any quality a writer can display that makes them one hundred percent hireable?"

An innocent yet wildly pointed question from an audience member that drew good-natured laughs from the panel of Asian-American showrunners at the WGA last night. One panelist faux-whispered to another, "Don't tell her!" More laughs all around.

As if there were some secret, some instant way to get hired into TV. I felt mildly embarrassed for the woman who asked, and yet that's why we were all there. To learn from people who have climbed the ladder to the top job in television - showrunner.

Last night's panel featured three kings from the one-hour drama world - Steve Maeda, who ran Pan Am and Lie to Me, Naren Shankar, who ran CSI for several years, and Veena Sud, who created The Killing and ran Cold Case.

Sponsored by the WGA Asian-American Writers Committee, the panel discussion was robust and informative. What a joy to see people of color in leadership positions that they earned by being kick ass, talented writers and collaborators. They gave their perspective about the business of television writing, the place of diversity in hiring and casting, working with directors and agents, and more.

I asked a question - I always do - about times when they decided not to pick up a writer's option and what those writers did that we could avoid doing when we're on the job. All three panelists agreed the worst traits are underpitching / not contributing enough in the room or being a "sniper" - the guy who shoots everyone's idea down without offering ideas of their own. Got it - no sniping activity in my future.

The panel was followed by a reception, as WGA events always are --

With a fantastic spread of food, including sushi from Sansai Japanese Grill and delicious pies from simplethings sandwich & pie shop (I love how the boxes say "you make good decisions") --

And of course, wine...

Thanks WGA for another great night!

Added 6/5/12 - video!

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