According to the New York Times, Courtney Kemp was “a bookish child, obsessed with presidential politics and learning Yiddish.” She’s still like that: She wears a t-shirt reading “Black Nerds Unite.”
But the 1994 Staples High School graduate — who went on to Brown University, and earned a master’s in English literature at Columbia — is a highly regarded writer in the very mainstream medium of TV. Her credits include “The Good Wife” (for which she received an Emmy nomination), and “Beauty and the Beast.”
Now she’s branched out even further from bookish nerddom. She’s the creator and show runner of “Power,” a Starz series that premiered last month. In the first few episodes alone, there are shootings and fights. One man is set on fire.
Known today as Courtney Kemp Agboh, she’s one of the few African American female show runners in the industry, the Times says. “Power” is the first series she ever pitched — or sold.
She was “called the N-word a lot” growing up in Westport, she says. (Her father, Herb Kemp, was a noted advertising executive.) She read college textbooks at age 8, Shakespeare at 10. She made up stories about the pieces on her chess set.
It’s a long way from the nearly-all-white Westport of the 1980s and ’90s to Sunset Gower Studios in Los Angeles, where she works today.
And where her executive producer is Curtis Jackson — better known as the rapper 50 Cent.
The Times says that Courtney came up with the idea of the show’s lead role: a man “so good at being bad that nobody in his world would really want him to be good.” That character draws both from 50 Cent and her father.
“Power” — called “a lively premium-cable riff on ‘Law & Order'” by the Times’ Alessandra Stanley — concludes its 1st season tonight. It’s been renewed for the fall.
(For the full New York Times story, click here.)