6 Black Women Showrunners Who Inspired TV’s Diverse Renaissance

This month we place flowers at the feet of television’s most dynamic creators.

It goes without saying that Black women are not-so-quietly running the show, literally, one television series at a time.

Yes, the change has been a decade-plus in motion, as names like Mara Brock Akil, Yvette Lee Bowser, and Shonda Rhimes rewrote the rules with their series, owned whole entire nights on popular networks, and landed multi-year, multi-million dollar deals with major studios.

But now, we’re immersed in the throes of a true Blackening of television. You have Ava DuVernay getting her superhero stories off with Naomi on the CW. Katori Hall serving up looks and grit with P-Valley on Starz. Issa Rae gave everyone life and glimpses at their own life as Insecure wrapped its fifth and final season. And recently, audiences celebrated the second season renewal of Quinta Brunson’s highly rated sitcom, Abbott Elementary, which has quickly rewritten the game on how to merge humor with community engagement.

With it being such a beautiful time for Black women in television, this Women’s History Month-inspired list takes a look at 6 showrunners who have helped to inspire such an awakened renaissance.

  • Quinta Brunson

    Series: Abbott Elementary 

    Creator and star of the wildly popular ABC series, Quinta Brunson is only the fourth comedy in television history that’s created by and starring the same person. The first was Wanda SykesWanda at Large, which aired on Fox in 2003 and lasted two seasons, the second was Whoopi from EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg, which aired only for seven months on NBC in 2004, and third was Insecure, which was developed and starring Issa Rae.  

    Inspired by the educators who taught her, Brunson’s Abbott Elementary is a mold-breaker and innovator, as the former BuzzFeed content creator shared that the production team and leaders at ABC agreed on “allocating some of the show’s marketing money to help real teachers. This has not only made her series relatable to an audience of millions but also changed the game in how Black showrunners can make a real-world impact in their communities.

  • Aeysha Carr

    Series: Woke

    A writer of shows and “uplifter of Blackness,” Aeysha Carr has been burning pages and screens with her words since working on Everybody Hates Chris. An absolute black belt when it comes to getting the absolute best from a writer’s room, Carr has helped to usher in a healthy wave of Black television sitcoms from Kenya Barris’ Freeform comedy, Unrelated, to NBC’s The Carmichael Show and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where she was also a writer.  

    Currently, the showrunner of Hulu’s Woke, which returns for its second season on Apr. 8, Carr has proven to be a reliable asset in remixing any type of IP — whether film or television — for a new and more diverse audience.

  • Britt Matt

    Series: Harlem 

    Formerly known as one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming screenwriters, Britt Matt is a genius with the pen and continues to be highly sought after for her work. 

    From boosting ratings for shows like Marlon and AP Bio to her current work as showrunner on First Wives Club and Harlem, this transformative writer and personality have consistently made waves in the industry that have not only paid dividends but changed the climate of television.

  • Tasha Gray

    Series: Power Book III: Raising Kanan

    A South Central, L.A. original, Tasha Gray put her aspirations of becoming a gangsta rapper aside to become an educational consultant. With the goal of entering the film and TV landscape, she transitioned into a full-time writer, earning credits alongside John Singleton (Rebel) and Cedric the Entertainer (The Comedy Get Down), but really ramped it up when she helped to diversify the style of stories that get shown on-screen with P-Valley.

    Better known as Tash Gray, series such as the aforementioned P-Valley, Snowfall, and Power Book III: Raising Kanan all have her pen game throughout it, and while she never got that hot-16 off like an Uzi, she has become a certified gangsta when it comes to getting these fantastic series greenlit.

  • Asha Michelle Wilson

    • Series: American Horror Story

    When TV nerds are looking for the perfect person to gain insight from about all things screenwriting, Asha Michelle Wilson is the name they go to. A rising showrunner, writer, producer, and actress to watch in 2022, Wilson is currently in script-to-series development with Paramount+.

    With writing credits including American Horror Story and Archer on FX, as well as the upcoming Netflix series, Agent King, and Amazon’s The Hospital — Wilson is the right voice when it comes not only learning more about the industry, but witness the rise of the diversifying changes in Hollywood happening behind the scenes.

  • Nkechi Carroll

    Series: All-American, All-American: Homecoming

    Nigerian-born, New York-raised writer-producer Nkechi Carroll went from performing and training with the Oxford Youth Theatre in England at 14 to becoming a co-executive producer on shows like Bones, Rosewood, and The Resident. She impressively transitioned from theater to film and television and, and admits she gathers strength alongside Lena Waithe and other Black women writers working in the industry as part of Black Women Who Brunch.

    In 2018, Carroll joined the crew of All American after the pilot episode, eventually becoming the series lead showrunner of that show and its spin-off, All-American: Homecoming. Nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2020 for “Outstanding Writing in a Drama,” she has been a fixture in helping other Black women get their start as screenwriters. The new deal she inked with Warner Bros. Television promises she’ll be Black, booked, and busy for years to come.

    Kevin L. Clark is a screenwriter and entertainment director for BET Digital, who covers the intersection of music, film, pop culture, and social justice. Follow him on @KevitoClark.

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