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Netflix: Our Successful Female-Led Shows Are ‘Testament to Their Talent’

Netflix’s most powerful women were in attendance at the Rebels and Rule Breakers Luncheon, hosted by the streaming service, Women In Film and SAG-AFTRA, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Saturday. Guests and panelists included Chelsea Handler, “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” leading lady Krysten Ritter, “Orange is the New Black” showrunner Jenji Kohan and star Laura Prepon, “Grace & Frankie” star Jane Fonda and co-creator Marta Kauffman and “Making a Murderer” creators Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi.

“If you had told me 20 years ago that I would still be working on a successful TV show at 78, I would have said you were crazy,” Fonda told the room. “Television is a great platform for older women, more forgiving in age than movies are.”

But even though certain platforms are more forgiving, it’s still a challenge to keep a show relevant and successful, according to Kohan. The showrunner said that she always strives to reinvent her storylines in “Orange is the New Black.”

“You set a bar for yourself and you don’t want to limbo,” she said about the success of her show. “I’ve never met a rule I didn’t want to break.”

Prepon, who stars as Alex Vause on the show, praised Kohan for her gutsy approach to storytelling.

“She writes with balls! When Taylor and I have scenes that are intimate Jenji always says it’s not going to be gratuitous,” she said. “The writing is just awesome and we go there!”

Handler also spoke about the network’s groundbreaking content being an attractive move for her in her career. She revealed why this year was the right time for her to transition to the streaming service with “Chelsea Does.”

“This platform is the perfect excuse to be more mindful, to get information while being fun, to being less stupid,” she said. Handler later mentioned that her new show isn’t following the traditional “talk show” format and reminded the audience to “be authentic to who you are and be passionate.”

Ritter revealed that “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” creator Melissa Rosenberg’s atypical storytelling is what drew her to the show. The actress related the freshman series to a psychological character study, rather than staying within the confines of Marvel tradition.

“It was so character-driven, so performance-driven. We always thought about it as a superhero genre second and a drama first,” she said.

“Making a Murderer” creators Ricciardi and Demos shared that they had confidence in their material before their popular series made waves online. Ricciardi praised Netflix for the distribution method and the timing of the release, but also for always looking for new material.

“They’re always looking to do new things that equals female filmmakers and creators,” she said.

Netflix wrapped up the discussion by confirming that it will continue to strive for great content that is reflective of diversity and fosters creative minds.

“We place a lot of faith in freedom, in Kohan and Rosenberg, and it’s a real testament to their talent. We want to provide diverse programming, as diverse and eclectic as our audience is,” said Cindy Holland, VP of original content at Netflix.

But most importantly her advice for women in the industry is: “Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Follow your interests and keep after it.”

Other panelists included “Master of None” actress Lena Waithe, Carol Kane of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” as well as Dominique Crenn and Abby Fuller of “Chef’s Table.” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle CarterisMelanie Griffith and Gugu Mbatha-Raw were also in attendance.

Coming up next for Netflix is “Orange is the New Black,” which premieres its fourth season on June 17.

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