Spotlights

Women Behind the Scenes Spotlight: Courtney Kemp

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Photo Credit: Variety

Today’s Women Behind the Scenes spotlight is shone on Writer, Series Creator and Executive Producer Courtney Kemp.

Courtney grew up in Westport, Connecticut and began reading college textbooks when she was 8 years old. At the age of 10, she had moved on to plays by William Shakespeare and then eventually began coming up with her own stories.

In 1994, she graduated high school and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and then got her Master’s in English Literature from Columbia University.

She landed her first job as an editorial assistant at the now defunct Mademoiselle magazine then she became a writer for GQ. When she wrote a piece for that magazine about interracial dating, two producers came to her about turning that article into a TV show. While that TV show never happened, Courtney ended up with an agent and a new dream.

While she wanted to be the first black editor-in-chief of Vogue or Entertainment Weekly, TV pulled her in a different direction. She submitted a spec episode to The Bernie Mac Show, and soon landed her first official TV writing gig with the series at the age of 26.

From there she worked as a story editor on the short-lived drama Justice in 2006 before landing a job as an executive story editor and writer on Eli Stone in 2008, created by now uber-producer Greg Berlanti [more on him shortly]. From there she worked as a writer and co-producer on the short-lived series My Own Worst Enemy in 2008 and then as a co-producer and writer on Happy Town in 2010.

It was in 2011 that she landed a job as a writer and producer on The Good Wife. That same year she gave birth to her daughter, Charlie; but it was also that same year that her father passed away. It was then that she needed to write about him. She came up with an idea about a series inspired by her dad’s rise from poverty to success as a New York advertising executive.

She continued working in television by being a co-executive producer and writer on Hawaii Five-0 in 2012 and as a co-executive producer on Beauty and the Beast that same year.  Courtney’s agent eventually put her together with rapper 50 Cent and Mark Canton, and the end result of the series about her father combined with 50 Cent’s own story became the Starz drama Power, which will premiere its fourth season this coming Sunday.

And what role did Greg Berlanti play in Courtney’s life? Not only did he hire her ‘way back when’ because he thought she was talented, but her series Power wouldn’t exist without him for that very reason.

Courtney recently signed a new overall multi-year deal with Lionsgate, who now owns Starz, where she will develop series and projects for the powerhouse studio with her ultimate goal of becoming a “Dick Wolf or David Kelly, with a J.J. Abrams kind of feel.”

Viewers can watch Starz for the season premiere of Power on Sunday, June 25 at 9/8c.

Fans can follow Courtney Kemp on Twitter @CourtneyKemp.

Using her favorite online handle, Rueben is an East Coast-bred gal who is now a permanent Californian and a lifelong tv-oholic. She watches at least 25 TV shows a week, goes to the movies as often as possible, listens to music every waking moment, reads every day and “plays” on the internet every chance she can. Some of her current favorite TV shows are Outlander, Arrow, Grimm, The Blacklist, Teen Wolf, Killjoys, Dark Matter, The Shannara Chronicles, Good Witch, When Calls the Heart, The 100, Switched at Birth, Jane the Virgin, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash and The Fosters (among others). Follow her at @ruebenrambling or contact her at rueben@nicegirlstv.com.