Power creator Courtney A. Kemp wanted her series to showcase diversity in all forms, but first she had to settle some things with her network. Kemp, joining Deadline’s Dominic Patten at today’s The Contenders event to discuss her series, explained.
“When I got to Starz,” says Kemp, “there was a feeling of, ‘Go slower. Be in The Sopranos model.’” A fan of well-crafted melodrama and strong cliffhangers, Kemp brought lessons from her stint as a producer on The Good Wife to inform her Power approach: “I said if (viewers) miss something, they’ll rewind. This is the generation of the rewind.”
Once their disagreement over pacing, was hashed out, the series (which stars Omari Hardwick, Joseph Sikora and exec producer 50 Cent) could move on to even more important things. With a series like Power, which features one of TV’s most diverse ensembles both in front of and behind the camera, the topic of diversity naturally came up during the panel. Asked about diversity, the African-American show creator quipped, “I’m a white guy—you cant tell?” But Kemp is serious about encouraging diversity in her productions, not only with regard to race, gender and sexuality, but also diversity of ideas. “Diversity has started to mean black,” she says. “That’s not diverse. I have all kinds of people (in the writers room)— people of color, people from the Midwest, people who are things that I am not.”
On-screen diversity was, of course, equally significant to Kemp, contributing to Power‘s honest depiction of New York.
Kemp is certain that the show’s diversity plays a crucial role in its success and the audience connection in its recent second season. But she also credits the series’ universality. “Any underrepresented audience loves to see themselves on TV, but what’s more important is that we’re writing about universal themes — good versus evil, can you change yourself? These themes resonate for everyone,” she says.