‘Power’ Showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh On Success, Sexism, & The Benefit Of Being The Funny One
Courtney Kemp Agboh is on a roll. After a string of successes working on hit shows like The Good Wife and The Bernie Mac Show, she is now showrunner for the Starz hit series Power . Working with Executive Producer Curtis Jackson (perhaps better known as actor/rapper 50 Cent), Agboh is writing and executive producing Power Season 2, premiering June 6. The show picks up right where we left off, with Ghost struggling to keep everything he’s worked so hard to build from crumbling around him. Just in time, Agboh took spoke with Bustle about Power, pressure and what it means to be a woman in show business.
“You always feel pressure as the showrunner. I think I’d feel more pressure if we had a not so successful Season 1,” Agboh said, reflecting on the expectations that come with having a well-received first season.
“My personal philosophy is just to do the best that I can, to the best of my ability. I try to keep the pressure off by doing one thing at a time,” she said. It’s a formula that seems to have worked well for her so far. Agboh got her start as a writer for GQ, penning an article that received offers to have it adapted into a show. That offer didn't pan out, but from then on she had the showbiz bug and was determined to break into the industry, regardless of how difficult that may be.
Even now that she's in, the challenges continue, especially as a woman in this male-dominated industry. But Agboh looks at the lack of female showrunners in a more positive light, and views it as almost an advantage that she used while working hard to scale the ladder.
“As I was working my way up the ranks people didn’t see me as a threat because I was female and perhaps because I was of color, but I cannot say that definitively. I was the chick! I was the funny chick,” she said. “Then it’s like, when you weren’t looking I took that."
While being one of a few women behind the scenes can have its upsides, Agboh is quick to recognize that it’s not always so simple. She has struggled to make something of herself in the still very male-dominated film industry.
“In some ways it more complicated to be a woman then it has been to be of color, because the sexism in our business is very strong and I find myself in rooms much more often where I’m the only woman. Not that I’m the only person of color," Agboh said.
And as if she doesn’t have enough problems to worry about as her show goes into its sophomore season, Agboh found new issues that I have to assume don't plague male showrunners like Vince Gilligan or Matthew Weiner: Keeping your hair and makeup on-point while still getting stuff done.
“You are still supposed to look good all the time as a woman. You have to consider those things, those things are important,” she said.
Her understanding of and manipulation of the sexism inherent in the industry has clearly helped her build Power from the ground up, as the show is rapidly becoming required summer viewing. Regardless of the challenges that come with her position, Agboh is more than game. I, for one, cannot wait to see how her journey plays out.