Reposted from The GEITF
In the second part of our Q&A with ABC’s Keli Lee, we asked how her casting job works on a day-to-day basis; how she plans to expand her Talent Showcase and whether she can offer any advice to help boost diversity in the UK.
What does the role of executive vice-president casting, ABC, entail?
My role is unusual and unique even in the US in that I manage the casting for the Network and ABC Studios – which produces not only for ABC but for Fox, CBS, cable outlets etc. So the moment there is an idea on the Studio side, we help the producers sell their show, saying, ‘can we attach talent, can we package that show, let’s put together a shortlist’, so that’s on the development side before it’s even pitched to the Network.
On the Network side, any show idea that has an actor attached as a producer or an actor, I’m in those pitches. So the conversation is, ‘ok this person has this idea, is this the right show for ABC and is this the right character for this person?’ And these are the discussions early on before there’s even a script. Of course, we’re the most involved right before we’re greenlighting some of these scripts, and of course, during pilot season.
So you are the person that decides at the end of the day?
It’s completely collaborative. It’s the vision of the creators and who they have in mind, but we ask whether they can write for this person every week – that’s so important. And then there’s the Studio executives and Network executives – it’s a conversation and a collaboration but ultimately if the writer feels this is the person they can really write for and is inspired by, we want to support that decision.
But if you don’t think the lead is going to work?
It’s a negotiation…it really comes down to who is the most passionate.
What’s the biggest challenge in making diversity mainstream?
Comedies are harder because if that comedy writer is writing about a personal experience and that writer grew up in the Midwest, they are writing about what they know. That’s a challenge when it comes to adding diversity, especially if it’s about your childhood. If you think about The Goldbergs which is a really fantastic show, Adam Goldberg is writing about his family and it’s really hard to say: ‘can your sister be somebody else?’