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“Power” Showrunner Kemp This Spring’s Semel Chair

Courtney Kemp. Contributed photo

Courtney Kemp, showrunner of Starz series Power and a former writer/producer for CBS’ The Good Wife, is at Emerson Los Angeles this week leading writing workshops and a master class as the Spring 2018 Semel Chair in Screenwriting.

Every semester, a working screenwriter leads classes for students in Emerson’s low-residency MFA in Writing for Film and Television program. There also will be a screening of Kemp’s work, followed by a Q&A session.

Kemp, 40, one of only a few African-American showrunners, created crime series Power in 2014. Co-produced by and co-starring rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, it generated the network’s highest-ever audience numbers for its second-season premiere and finale.

The Connecticut native began her career writing for magazines such as Mademoiselle and GQ. She became interested in writing for television when TV producers contacted her about adapting a GQ story she’d written about interracial dating into a series (the project never materialzed).

In 2003, she got a job as a staff writer on The Bernie Mac Show (Fox), which led to other TV writing and editing assignments. She eventually landed at The Good Wife, where, in 2011, she shared an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series with producers Ridley and Tony Scott.

After leaving The Good Wife in 2012, she worked as a producer and occasional writer on network programs such as CBS’ Hawaii 5-0, before becoming Power showrunner.

Students in the low-residency MFA program spend one week at Emerson’s Boston campus in August, and one week at ELA in January, where they attend seminars, lectures, workshops, and screenings. The remainder of the 40-credit program is taught online.

Previous Semel Chairs include Graham Moore, writer of The Imitation Game; Transparent creator Jill Soloway; Learning to Drive and 9 ½ Weeks writer Sarah Kernochan; and Jim Taylor, Oscar-winning writer of Sideways.


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