Power's Showrunner Vents About Writing 'Strong' Female Characters

Illustration for article titled Power's Showrunner Vents About Writing 'Strong' Female Characters

Power, the only Starz series I religiously watch (s/o to mom’s cable subscription), returned for its second season this past Saturday. Showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh spoke about how the female characters literally run the show.


Some backstory first: Omari Hardwick plays the lead character Ghost, a club owner slash drug guru with two key women in his life: his wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton) and his first love turned side chick Angela (Lela Loren). Tasha actively advises Ghost on how to do better business (amid their crumbling marriage), and Angela happens to be an FBI agent who has no idea she’s dating the city’s biggest drug dealer.

This stuff is good. And while Empire has drawn comparisons, Power has a totally different vibe and narrative. Agboh said this to Vulture about writing women:

“I’m letting male viewers go into the show and see sex and relationships with women ... The female characters are really strong and realized and smart. Nobody’s dumb. Nobody is bimbo-y. Nobody is a pushover. I think that Ghost should not fuck with these women. They are not easy bitches. As a woman, I don’t feel like I have a responsibility to create better female characters. I feel like I have a responsibility to create good characters. Because the truth is, those kinds of things ghettoize us even more as writers.”

Of course, Shonda Rhimes’ name was brought up. Agboh, clearly a boss, says:

“My job isn’t to make great women; my job is to make a great fucking show so that the next time a woman wants to run her own show, somebody says, ‘Yeah, she can probably do it because that other bitch did it.’ Even though that is ghettoizing us again, that’s how people think. When people ask me, ‘Has Shonda Rhimes opened a lot of doors for you,’ no. I’ve never met her.’

That may sound like shade but Agboh adds, “Do I think that it helps that people might have seen her in the world and go, ‘Yeah.’ Of course it does. You know what I mean? Sure, fine, whatever. But the people that open the door for me [are] the Kings, Yvette Lee Bowser, Greg Berlanti, you know.”

Contact the author at clover@jezebel.com.

Image via Starz


SadeVEVO ✓ official

I hate what the phrase “strong female character” implies about women in media. You’d never hear the phrase “strong male character”.

This show delivers realistic, well-written women. They’re not one-dimensionally strong; they’re nuanced. That demonstrates a writing and production staff that uses women’s experiences to drive their writing, instead of outward views about whether a woman is “strong” or “sassy” or some other singular defining adjective.