Women's Impact Report 2011: Veena Sud

Veena Sud’s interested in writing about dark, flawed, complicated women. She’s not so interested in writing a whodunit.

That distinction resulted in a storm of criticism when many critics who lauded her impressive AMC freshman series “The Killing” turned rabid when the central mystery was not solved in the season finale on June 19.

“The fact that so many people passionately cared about the show, whether they were unhappy with the ending or thought it was fantastic, means something,” Sud says. “The bottom line is that it is my job to tell the story I believe in, and that’s to tell a different type of cop show that up-ends what we’ve seen before.”

Sud moved from CBS’ “Cold Case” to be the show runner for “The Killing” and is currently working on the second season. The series was nominated for six Emmys, including one for Sud’s riveting pilot script that enthralled critics and viewers. Her rich tapestry of complex women characters marked a sharp departure from traditional TV fare.

Even the dead teen Rosie Larsen defied pigeonholing. Much like Sud — who at 16 wrote her first screenplay based on the friendship of two prostitutes after persuading a Cincinnati vice cop to show her the underbelly of her town, including a brothel — Rosie wasn’t afraid to take chances.

Former journalist Sud researched “The Killing” by spending time with families of murdered children. She wanted to get it right before even writing a single page of script. And part of getting it right for Sud was portraying cops as real women.

“There’s a hunger for that complex woman who doesn’t fit into the cliches,” she says. “In real life, cops don’t wear heels because they have to chase down the bad guys.”

Recent reports about fewer women in the industry both shocked and saddened Sud, who earned her film and TV master’s degree at NYU.

“We need more women telling our stories that are original and authentic,” Sud asserts. “We’ve seen too much of women in skimpy outfits and told that’s empowering. There’s nothing unique or interesting to me about that.”

SNAPSHOT
Title: Showrunner of “The Killing”
Role models: Georgia O’Keefe, Gandhi, Angela Davis and Tina Fey
Career mantra: “Do what you believe in, especially if it scares the shit out of you.”
Leisure pursuits: Hiking, solo camping, off-the-beaten-track travel
Philanthropic passions: Headlands Center for the Arts, Third World Newsreel, Los Angeles Public Library Foundation

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