This Woman Could Be the Reason You're Laughing

This Woman Could Be the Reason You’re Laughing

Jamila Hunter
CORPORATE - Jamila Hunter, Senior Vice President, Comedy, ABC Entertainment. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

If any of the ABC comedies of the last five years have left you in stitches, then you need to take a moment to give thanks for Senior Vice President, ABC Comedy, Jamila Hunter.

Hunter has had the task of overseeing development and production of some of the network’s most recent groundbreaking productions including Emmy-nominated, black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O’Neals and the return of Last Man Standing.

Hunter will be in attendance at the 2017 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, March 9th-12th in Phoenix, Arizona, along with the president of Martin Chase Productions, Debra Martin Chase, and Nina Shaw, founding partner of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. Hunter and the other panelists will offer entertainment industry insight on emerging opportunities and the work that needs to be done. recently caught up with Hunter to find out how she attained her current level of success:

To what do you attribute your success in the entertainment industry thus far?

I don’t believe that anyone succeeds in this business without building strong relationships. I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors in both my personal and professional life. I also have a strong network of peers–people who “started out on the bottom” with me and we’ve worked our way up the ladder together. You hear a great deal about managing up, but I’ve found it to be equally important to form connections with my peers. My colleagues have often been my strongest advocates and best partners.

How have you attained career longevity in a perceivably fickle industry? 

Anyone who chooses a career in the entertainment industry knows that it’s not a stable, predictable career choice. It’s impossible to plan for longevity, so that has never been my focus. I’ve always been committed to working hard, following my interests and passions, and not allowing fear to guide my decisions. As a result, my career path is probably a bit more eclectic than your average executive. I’ve worked in various genres (miniseries, alternative, specials, comedy) and have network, studio, and cable experience. My varied development and production background probably exposes me to more opportunities than executives with fewer areas of expertise.

What does the next level look like in your career?

We are living in interesting times as technology continues to cause major shifts in our core business model. I’m really passionate about finding innovative ways to discover and incubate new talent, connect with our audience, and evolve our business.

Building a more robust and diverse talent pipeline is also a focus for me. I’ve been working with our recruiters to target kids outside of the typical Hollywood rotation (i.e., HBCUs, community colleges, high schools, etc.) to build connections in our often insulated industry for the next generation of storytellers.

What challenges have you faced as an African American woman executive in Hollywood and how have you overcome them?

I’ve often been the only woman, the only black woman, and the youngest executive in the room. All three of those factors come with their own unique challenges. There are a handful of executives who I’ve always been able to call when faced with challenging situations. I usually take a walk and call from my cell phone. They allow me to vent and then strategize with me before I take action. I certainly couldn’t imagine confronting those situations alone.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get their foot in the door on Hollywood’s corporate side?

My advice is to stay true to your vision for your career. Don’t allow anyone else to dictate your path.

What can attendees of the 2017 BE Women of Power Summit expect to learn from your “Transforming an Industry, One Successful Sister at a Time” panel?

I hope that our panel highlights the unique paths that each woman has taken to reach authentic success. There is not one way to reach success. There is not one definition of success–there are many.

Register now to learn more from Hunter at the 2017 BE Women of Power Summit. See you March 9-12 in Phoenix!