A couple of months after ABC’s Channing Dungey became the first African American TV network president, we have what is believed to be the first African American president of a major TV studio. NBCUniversal has finalized a deal with Pearlena Igbokwe to become President of Universal Television, effective immediately.
Igbokwe, most recently head of drama for NBC, replaces Bela Bajaria, who abruptly exited the post earlier this week. In her new role, Igbokwe will continue to report to Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment, who oversees the studio.
Igbokwe, whom NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt brought over from Showtime where the two had worked together, has had an impressive track record since joining NBC in 2012 with a string of drama series breakouts, including The Blacklist, Blindspot and some of the Chicago spinoffs. Most of those high-profile dramas, including the upcoming This Is Us, Timeless and Taken, come from outside studios (including co-productions with Uni TV). Igbokwe is likely being tasked with increasing Universal TV’s drama output on NBC, which is very lucrative in the international marketplace.
“Pearlena’s remarkable track record in drama programming at NBC over the last few years made it clear that she was the ideal choice to lead the studio into its next phase of growth,” said Salke. “Her leadership, vision and taste have resulted in an impressive string of drama successes — from The Blacklist, Blindspot, Chicago Med, Shades of Blue and the upcoming series This Is Us, Timeless and Taken — that coincides with our return to a top position among networks. Pearlena also comes to the job with a wealth of experience in television movies and comedy and we have no doubt she will lead our prolific studio forward in a dynamic way.”
Igbokwe came to NBC Entertainment in 2012 as EVP, Drama Development after two decades at Showtime where she supervised a slew of series, from Dexter to Nurse Jackie.