Alexandra Cunningham was looking for a home for Chance, the crime thriller she’d developed starring Hugh Laurie. She had a number of network suitors. During the decisionmaking process, Cunningham, who wrote and produced for Desperate Housewives, called her friend Liz Tigelaar, the executive producer of Hulu’s acclaimed comedy Casual. What was it like, she asked, to work with the upstart network? Tigelaar’s vote of confidence was convincing: Chance landed at Hulu with a two–season order. More important, it’s one of the new arrivals cementing Hulu’s reputation as a platform committed to recruiting and nurturing female talent.
Over the past couple of years, Hulu’s originals slate has become dominated by female showrunners: five of the platform’s eight series. This isn’t any sort of explicit policy, but head of originals Beatrice Springborn, a Hollywood heavyweight with Pixar and The Walking Dead on her resume, isn’t shying away from it either. “We are open to people who may not have done it before,” she says. “And that opens us up to a wider pool of talent.”
Hulu’s mission, after all, is to carve its own niche in the still-burgeoning streaming industry. The company is working hard to look beyond the traditional creative center of network TV. And a lot of those ideas–surprise!–come from people whose voices weren’t heard loudly enough before. The approach has created a virtuous cycle: Hulu’s writers and producers refer their collaborators, and the network’s network keeps growing.
“It’s so fun to have a community,” says The Path showrunner Jessica Goldberg, “to talk about the challenges of the job or directors whose work you like or what writers you’ve read recently that you really love.” When the corporate culture is good, so is the creative culture–and ultimately, the pop culture.
This article appears in the September 2016 issue.