After decades of having their stories told through the eyes of creatives who had never walked in their shoes, Black women are stepping up and taking the reins in the television industry.
Legends like Yvette Lee Bowser and the late Eunetta Boone have paved the way for a new generation of storytellers to share their talents with us, and newly-minted moguls-to-be like Issa Rae and Ava DuVernary are surrounding themselves with story editors, line producers, first unit directors, and other professionals who make their visions sing.
As we continue to experience the second coming of the golden age of television, streaming allows us to meet even more of these important voices. Many writers and producers who have fought their way through the writers rooms of “mainstream” productions before having the opportunities to tell their own stories are presenting new worlds and revamping old ones.
Meet 13 Black women behind your favorite TV shows below.
Ayo Davis was just appointed President of Disney Branded Television, a promotion from her role as EVP of creative development and strategy at the same division. Davis will now helm the creative and operational functions driving family-friendly content to Disney Plus streaming and all other Disney cable verticals.
Nichelle Tramble Spellman
Tramble Spellman is the showrunner and creator behind the true crime podcast adaptation Truth Be Told. She earned an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series for her work on the project. Her previous credits include CBS drama The Good Wife and FX’s Justified.
JaNeika and JaSheika James
The formidable twins from Tampa, Florida have writing credits that include the Golden Globe and BET award-winning series Empire and the Gossip Girl reboot. Their book Living Double was released in 2020.
The former HelloBeautiful Editorial Director turned her experience in digital media into one of the hottest shows of the summer with Starz Run The World. Working with prolific showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser she created characters that represent the most delicious and dismal moments of Black millennialhood.
Ashley Nicole Black
Black is an Emmy award-winning writer who helped make Full Frontal with Samantha Bee a must-watch show. She’s also one of the funny women behind HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show. Her pen has patented some of the series’ most memorable characters including the invisible spy. The L.A. native is currently producing and writing on Apple TV’s Ted Lasso.
Hughes is bringing the streetwear competition series The Hype to HBO featuring judges Offset and Beth Birkett. Hughes has earned an Emmy Award, three Grammy Awards, and has been nominated for two NAACP Image Awards in a three-year time span. As Executive Producer of Magic Lemonade Productions, she produced The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion as well as shows like Sticks & Stones, The Age of Spin, Rip The Runway, All Def Comedy and Dear Mama.
Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Carroll is the show-runner behind All American (which finally added its third season to Netflix yay!) She received an NAACP Image Award nomination for “Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series” for the episode “Hussle & Motivate,” where she drafted a heartwarming tribute to Nipsey Hussle. She also just used the show’s spinoff, Homecoming, to show love to Queen of self-care Naomi Osaka.
Janine Sherman Barrois
Sherman Barrois took us from the pedicure throne to the trap as the showrunner of the TBS hit Claws. The show tackled the opioid epidemic and showed us Karruche Tran could act. The only thing more snatched than our edges was the waist of star Niecy Nash.
Ayanna Floyd Davis
Floyd Davis is a writer and producer whose previous credits include Empire, Hannibal, Hit the Floor, and Private Practice.
Oliver served as an executive story editor and writer for Survivor’s Remorse. She also produced an episode of Insecure predecessor Awkward Black Girl earlier in her career. This fall we’ll see her series Harlem come to Amazon Prime.
Stacey Evans Morgan
Morgan is one of the voices responsible for making Nikki and Kim so unforgettable on The Parkers. Her other credits include One on One, Meet The Browns, House of Payne, and Family Time.
Felicia D. Henderson
Henderson wrote and produced Black classics including Moesha, Sister, Sister, and Soul Food. Recently she worked on the original Gossip Girl, executive produced The Quad, and was a consulting producer on the crime drama Next.
The co-executive producer of Little Fires Everywhere didn’t just help give us our favorite Kerry Washington meme; she also lent her pen to When They See Us and Empire.
Gist, who is the executive producer of the upcoming drama Our Kind of People, helped introduce us to Don Cheadle’s comedy chops on House of Lies. Her other credits include One Tree Hill, Revenge, Grey’s Anatomy and Mixed-ish.