The Nightly Show writer and performer Robin Thede has an excellent Lenny Letter essay out this week called “On Making the TV Writers’ Rooms More Diverse,” and it should be required reading for anyone interested in writing for television, and even more importantly, the TV writers and producers currently in charge of hiring new talent. Thede wrote the essay in support of a New York tax credit proposed by the Writers Guild of America, which would incentivize shows to hire more women and minorities on their writing staffs. Here’s an excerpt:
Look at the world around you. Do you see only white men in it? No, you walk by people of all races, religions, genders, and entertainment interests. Why wouldn’t you want a writers’ room to reflect the world as it actually exists? I would love to see more three-dimensional Black, Latino, Native American and Asian characters who can do more than just say one-liners. I would love to see women who are more than just one-note emotional zombies waiting for a man to tell them how to feel (see: Cecily Strong’s genius “One-Dimensional Female Character from a Male-Driven Comedy” on SNL). And I bet you want to see these types of women on-screen too. Which is why this tax credit matters for people outside the industry: it’s not only about us getting jobs. It’s about getting TV and movie lovers better, more realistic entertainment that accurately represents their experiences, not just the point of view of some bros in a dingy conference room.
Thede certainly knows what she’s talking about, having been The Nightly Show’s former head writer who helped assemble the show’s writers’ room prior to its debut last year. Here’s what she told us about hiring a diverse Nightly Show writing staff:
We just put together the best combination that we thought worked for what we had, and the amazing thing was we knew that this show was going to appeal to the underdog, whether that be class, race, gender, disability, whatever. We really liked that sensibility and were able to hire a staff that’s really diverse as well, which is really nice. You know, other people, other shows, they make it seem like it’s hard to hire a diverse staff. They’re like, “I don’t know, they’re just not out there!” And it’s so not true — we had so many submissions from women, from minorities, from disabled writers. People are funny of all kinds, and lucky for us, we were able to pick out a really diverse room. We have absolutely the most diverse room in late night, and it’s great.
Read the rest of Thede’s essay over at Lenny Letter.