After a year break, Jamila Hunter is returning to the Disney-ABC TV group — and to her unscripted roots –as SVP of Current Series and Alternative Programming for Freeform. The former ABC head of comedy will replace Kary McHoul, who will transition into an executive producer role.
Hunter, who is expected to start at the top of 2020, will oversee unscripted and alternative content as well as Freeform’s current slate of scripted programming, reporting to Lauren Corrao, the cable network’s EVP of Original Programming and Development.
“I have worked with Jamila many times as both a producer and an executive, and even tried to hire her once,” Corrao said. “Although it took nearly ten years, I feel incredibly fortunate that the time is now and that she chose to join me here alongside the talented team at Freeform. Her impeccable taste, wicked sense of humor and tremendous relationships throughout the talent community undoubtedly make her the perfect choice to lead our Current and Alternative Programming teams as we continue to grow the Freeform brand.”
McHoul, who is stepping down as SVP of Unscripted and Current Series Programming, will oversee unscripted series Wrap Battle, slated to premiere on Freeform Nov. 25, as well as Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, which will launch on Disney+ next year, serving as executive producer. McHoul was instrumental in creating both series.
“Kary has been pivotal in shaping our first major push into unscripted and we are so grateful for her significant contributions to our slate. While we are sad that she has chosen to move on, we are thankful to be able to continue to work with her in a producing capacity,” Corrao said. “Kary’s passion, spirit and creativity has guided so much of our work at Freeform and that will continue to echo through the halls.”
Hunter, a respected TV development executive, has been in demand and pursued by a number of companies since she stepped down as President of TV of Kenya Barris’ Netflix-based Khalabo Ink Society in August after less than a year. Early on, she engaged with NBCUniversal, which had approached her for a senior programming job at the company’s upcoming streaming platform Peacock. She most recently has been helping out on an interim basis at Wiip, the independent studio backed by CAA and run by Paul Lee.
Hunter, who left ABC to join Khalabo Ink Society last October, oversaw the company’s slate under Barris’ big overall deal at Netflix. It includes three new series for the streaming platform, comedy Black Excellence, in which Barris stars alongside Rashida Jones, a sketch-comedy series starring the New York-based improv troupe Astronomy Club, and Entergalactic, an adult animated music series based on Kid Cudi’s upcoming album of the same name.
Hunter joined ABC as VP Comedy in 2011 and took the reins of the department in 2016. She oversaw the development and production of such series as the Roseanne, spinoff The Conners and Splitting Up Together and was a key member of the team that developed and launched black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, among others. She also supervised Tim Allen’s return to network television in Last Man Standing. At ABC, has also oversaw multi-platform comedy development, shepherding original short-form content for the revamped ABC app.
Hunter started her entertainment career at NBCU in 1997 with a job in the Movies and Miniseries. She was VP, Alternative Programming for NBC Entertainment as the second executive to join the—at the time—nascent alternative department and was responsible for supervising all aspects of development, production and post-production for alternative programming.
Hunter went on to serve as VP, Development and Production at Bravo shortly after it was acquired by NBC and was an integral part of the creative team that rebranded the channel and launched signature shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Project Runway. Her resume also includes stints as SVP of Alternative and Digital Programming at NBC Entertainment, as VP, Comedy Development at 20th Century Fox Television and as head of programming for then-fledgling OWN.
“Creating rich characters that resonate with an audience is a true passion of mine, so I’m thrilled to be joining a network that values bold, distinctive and inclusive storytelling,” Hunter said. “I have tremendous respect for Lauren’s track record as an executive and producer, so the fact that I’m returning to the Disney family and joining her team as they continue to establish Freeform as the cultural leader in young adult programming is truly icing on the cake.”