Mara Brock Akil and 'Power's Courtney Kemp Agboh on Putting Black Characters Front and Center on TV

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Akil and Agboh are among the most powerful women creatives on TV.

Courtney Kemp Agboh does not want her race and gender to always be pointed out when she’s being talked about as one of the top creatives on television.

The Power creator, who recently inked an overall deal with Starz, spoke at a panel at the New York Television Festival where she bemoaned the tendency to make women in TV the exception, and not the norm, reports Deadline.

“It…does…not…have…to…be…pointed out all the time,” she added. “Like, ‘Isn’t it great that you’re Black, and you’re a woman?’ Isn’t it great that the show’s good? I would just love for it not to be a thing. for it just to be, like, super norm.”

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Like Shonda Rhimes and Mara Brock Akil, Agboh is a woman behind one of the most buzzed about shows on TV. Not to mention, it’s the highest-rated show on Starz. But she’s still intrigued by the perception that placing Black characters in central roles in Power makes it a show that’s only for a Black audience.

“It says something about how television is perceived and how people select themselves out of it,” she said. “I was talking to a reporter about my next show, which is set in Connecticut, where I grew up, and she said — she didn’t mean to offend me — she said, ‘Well, I’ll watch that one.'”

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In a separate interview with the New York Times, Girlfriends and Being Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil also addressed the idea of placing Black characters in lead roles.

“It may not appear so today, but back [in 2010] it was very hard to sell a Black woman as the central character,” she said, speaking specifically about her initial hesitation at pitching Being Mary Jane, a show with a single Black woman as the lead. In 2010, there was no Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder.

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While she prepares her exit from Being Mary Jane—her production company, Akil Productions, also recently inked an overall deal with Warner Bros. TV—Akil is looking for a new female show runner for BMJ, and creating characters who are “Black on purpose.”

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