How Robin Thede Is Changing Expectations of ‘What Black Women in Comedy Can Do’
Robin Thede is not only a writer, producer, reality show host and actress, but also a one-woman employment agency.
While over the past year many in the film and television industry claimed they wanted to do better in front and behind the camera with the inclusion of women and BIPOC, Thede had many "really specific" and open conversations about how to do this .
Although Thede didn't just start doing this this year, the demand for her attention has increased, partly due to the country and industry's racist reckoning.
"This year in particular, I called some of the late night showrunners who I knew didn't have black writers and I had really, really frank, honest conversations with them about the need to hire black people for their staff . " Says Thede.
For this reason, Thede receives the Mipcom Creative Change Award from Variety in addition to her groundbreaking work on HBO's "A Black Lady Sketch Show" and the new general contract with the Warner Bros. Television Group.
“What I do has always been at the forefront of advancing black women and people of color. I've been doing this for years and I think everyone is catching up - not for me, but as a whole, ”says Thede. "The good thing is, I don't have to force anyone because they are badly needed and they know this is a [important] change."
Thede notes that she focused so much on the late night because she knows most of these showrunners personally. But she didn't stop there. Grace and Frankie showrunner Marta Kauffman previously told Variety that her company Okay Goodnight "has expanded our pipeline to include those who have been historically underrepresented and marginalized by new hiring approaches, including contacting color writers," to which they were referred Thede.
For Thede it is about giving those who emerge behind her "the opportunities that those before me have helped me". In order to further support this, she is also "aggressive in mentoring".
"I have about 25 mentees - and those are just the people I speak to face-to-face on a regular basis," she says. “I also take a lot of writers under my wing and they know they can contact me for anything. Once these people become producers and showrunners of their own shows, they'll hire me and it will come full circle. "
As the creator, writer, executive producer and actor on "A Black Lady Sketch Show", Thede is most interested in "relatable sketches that make people feel seen". The series focuses on black female voices both behind the scenes (for example, Issa Rae is another executive producer; Amber Ruffin is a writer and Dime Davis is co-executive producer and director) and on the screen with a core cast consisting of Thede, Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black and Gabrielle Dennis. It received a coveted vaudeville sketch series Emmy nom and a vaudeville / sketch TCA award win for its first season.
With “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” Thede feels “has a unique opportunity to further expand people's opinion [and] about what black women can do in comedy, and that's all we want . " We want to tell weird, strange, and hyper-normal stories - just things we weren't responsible for that way before. "
And she is looking forward to doing more of it with her new general contract: “I can employ a lot more people and do even more things that are particularly close to my heart. There's a certain amount of creative freedom that I didn't have before. "
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