Pluto may or may not be a planet, but in the cable world Kuessner is a shining star. After negotiating and closing 75 content deals, this exec went on to develop the company’s entire channel strategy, which includes more than 100 channels. Described as having boundless energy, Kuessner works with young curators at the company, offering key career advice. “It’s revitalizing to see that the industry is finally taking the necessary steps to bring forth these issues and address them accordingly,” she says of the Me Too movement. “The victims are amplifying their voices and no longer have to live in solitude behind a wall of pain.”
What are your thoughts on the industry’s current response to the Me Too movement, and its treatment of men who have been accused of sexual harassing and/or assaulting women and men? Are there other steps you feel should be taken?
It’s revitalizing to see that the industry is finally taking the necessary steps to bring forth these issues and address them accordingly. The victims are amplifying their voices and no longer have to live in solitude behind a wall of pain. It is empowering to see the way that the entertainment industry has banded together with collective voices – leaning in and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy that has successfully resulted in loosening the foothold of those who were once deemed untouchable.
Do you see any potential backlash to the Me Too/Time’s Up movements?
While publicly held entertainment companies are enforcing zero tolerance, we can’t always govern privately held institutions with the same levels of scrutiny. There is definitely a learning curve in this where we don’t always know exactly what the rules are. Sean Penn was recently quoted as saying, “the movement is dividing men and women” and to some extent that may be true. However, it could also be true that whenever new rules are established, or more dated ones are reinforced, it requires time for adjustment. Therefore, I believe it’s a process, but eventually, we will level the playing field and the trust and respect will find its way home.
What’s a recent example of a step forward for women in the media industry?
My all-time favorite. Megyn Kelly for standing up to some of the most powerful men in the world and having the strength to look inside herself, take a stand and move on.
Who is an inspirational woman you admire, and why?
My mother. For a woman who grew up with nothing, was abused by her alcoholic father, has multiple sclerosis, leukemia, dealt with bouts with melanoma and is barely mobile. She still pushes forward, never complains and has risen above all odds like the champion she is at heart not allowing for one misstep or misfortune to hold her down. She is my ultimate hero and source for truth and inspiration.
What’s been the most dramatic change in your sector of the business today vs. three years ago?
The evolution of the TV industry from traditional to OTT has been mind-boggling. Who would have thought that there would be 230 OTT services in the market place, Netflix would be spending 8 billion (yes, billions) on content and cord cutting would continue to accelerate at alarming rates? All this being said, Pluto TV is primed to succeed and I couldn’t feel more fortunate to be a part of the success.
If there were a reality show based on your office, what would it be called?
“9th Rock From the Sun.”