Dana Walden knows as well as anyone how hard it is to get a hit TV series on the air.
She’s been at the helm of 20th Century Fox TV, one of the biz’s two largest TV studios, for more than a decade. As such, she was keenly aware of the rare feat her studio enjoyed this past year with the breakout success of not one but two frosh series: Fox’s “Glee” and ABC’s “Modern Family.”
The studio couldn’t have scripted a better story for the two shows, from critical acclaim to pathbreaking business models (in the case of “Glee”) all the way to riches on Emmy night, capped by “Modern Family’s” win for comedy series.
On the watch of Walden and her fellow Fox chairman, Gary Newman, Fox has earned a reputation for being well-managed and willing to take big swings and creative risks. Walden’s mantra as an exec is to hire the best and the brightest and then stay out of their way. That goes for showrunners as well as her lieutenants on the exec side.
“Nothing good comes from micro management,” Walden says. “We try to focus on the cheerleading aspects of encouraging people to do the best work they can do.”
Overseeing Fox’s extensive roster primetime series, licensing and merchandising efforts and the bustling Fox TV Studios production unit often makes it a challenge for Walden to balance her personal life and the needs of her two daughters, ages 10 and 7.
“I try to remember that you can’t be perfect at both sides of your life and to accept that,” she says. “Every day I wake up and try to be there for my children while still doing what I need to at work.”