Jenni Konner is an American television writer, producer and director. Konner is no stranger to working in television as her mom wrote for Hart to Hart and Cagney & Lacey, and her dad has been writing for television since 1976. After attending Crossroads, a prep school in LA, and Sarah Lawrence College, Konner spent her 20s working temp jobs in New York. There she landed a job working with film director, producer, screenwriter and comedian Judd Apatow. Later, Sue Naegle at HBO hired Konner as the co-showrunner and co-writer of the HBO series Girls with Lena Dunham. Together with Dunham, she ran a production company, a feminist newsletter Lenny Letter and its Random House imprint Lenny Books. Konner is currently working on several new projects. One of those projects is tv series Single Drunk Female set to air on Freeform in January. In the following interview, she shares her experience in Hollywood and why hiring people of color is a way to get their stories told.
What was your biggest breakthrough in Hollywood, and how did that come about?
I was a staff writer on Undeclared, a fun sitcom about the trials and tribulations of college life. I was really lucky to work on such a great show right out of the gate. It’s where I met Judd Apatow, who became a mentor. The writer’s room had so many superstars: Seth Rogen, Rodney Rothman, Nick Stoller and many more. It was like grad school.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of what you do?
Every job is challenging, and I’m sure that most of us face the same challenges around getting adequate resources, finding challenging projects that are interesting, and dealing with the day-to-day of managing big teams of people. The rewards of my job are immeasurable. I get to tell interesting stories and work with fantastic people and do something I love. I don’t take that for granted.
What mistakes have you made during your career, and what did you learn from them?
Who doesn’t make mistakes? I think we should all be more open about mistakes because they are an opportunity for everyone to learn. One mistake that stands out to me because I did it so much early in my career was leaving my family too much for work. I recognize it’s a privilege to be able to prioritize my family and organize my time around my passions. My daughter is gorgeous and hilarious, my son is a thoughtful and kind human and my husband makes it all worth it. I’m really lucky. Shoutout to my baby daddy, Ben Cooley, the perfect co-parent, who made it all possible.
What kind of stories do you want to tell? What is the importance of telling women’s stories?
I like stories about complicated women, but I don’t think of my work as one note or about just one thing. Any