Tana Jamieson

Jamieson currently has 40 projects in development under the A+E Studios banner, including scripted content for History and Lifetime, as well as outside buyers. Under her watch, “Project Blue Book” from EP Robert Zemeckis became the top new cable drama series of 2019. “Good mistakes are when we’re trying, working hard, reaching out, building alliances, striving for greatness… and it still goes belly up. That’s OK,” she says. “Make a lot of good mistakes—because that’s how we learn!”

How can the industry do a better job of recruiting women and ensuring they have a path to senior positions?
Here’s the challenge—about hiring women, or hiring people of color, or hiring any other “minority” applicants who not straight white males: So often, the people with the “better” resumés (more credits, higher positions at different companies) are straight white males. And why? Because they grew up in a system where being a straight white male was the norm… and where the previous generations of senior management (executives, producers, &c.) were also (largely) straight white males. In other words, as is generally the case with system dynamics, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle of hiring. So, it’s not enough to simply “hire the person with the best resumé” … because that attempt at being “colorblind” (or gender blind or any other kind of blind) neglects to take into account our industry’s history. The answer? Make a bigger effort to counter these dynamics. Take history into account… and hire accordingly. Take more chances, and “reset” those dynamics for the future.

What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
1) Be heard. Be polite, but don’t let the boys interrupt you and speak over you. 2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There are good mistakes and bad mistakes. Bad mistakes are when we screw up out of selfishness or laziness or ignorance. Good mistakes are when we’re trying, working hard, reaching out, building alliances, striving for greatness… and it still goes belly up. That’s OK. Make a LOT of good mistakes — because that’s how we learn! 3) Be confident. OK, sounds easy… but break down the word “confidence.” It literally means “with faith.” Know that in your heart, things have a way of working out… so have faith that they will, especially if you’re working hard and going for it and striving for that greatness. THAT spirit is what “confidence” is all about!

Which current shows best reflect the kind of women’s roles you like to see and why?
“Reprisal” is about a strong (kick-a**) woman who doesn’t take s*** and gets revenge. What’s not to love about that? “Handmaid’s Tale” is the cautionary nightmare if those who see chauvinist zealotry actually wrestled away democratic power. Take note, ye of the next generation: you think this could never happen? Google “Weimar Germany 1933” or “The Trail of Tears” or “Taliban 1989.” “Better Things” is genius, because she’s a mom like me — just doing her best, losing most of the time, but still keeping her sense of humor and loving those sometimes-bratty kids to death!

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