With “One Day at a Time” on Netflix, Gloria Calderon Kellett co-created a family on-screen, and that kind of welcoming, inclusive environment is one she strives for off-screen as well. “I feel like what I write is very personal and hopefully engages something yummy and warm,” she says. “So I think the space has to reflect that.”
Lights, Candles, Ambiance
Lighting is very important to Kellett, who not only brought in outside bulbs to hang from the ceiling in her Sony Studios office, but also admits to always using candles. “I just like to set the mood before creating,” she says. “Maybe there’s some weird church element from when I was a kid — you light a candle and say a prayer for someone, you set an intention.”
Another item that marks Kellett’s career journey is her copy of Norman Lear’s book “Even This I Get to Experience.” She admits the inspiration she found in it came after she met the man himself, but says now it is both invaluable and informative for how she works — as well as personally validating. “After we shot the first episode of ‘One Day at a Time,’ I was very emotional, and I said, ‘Mr. Lear, thank you for changing my life.’ And he went, ‘Oh Gloria, you would have gotten here anyway, I just showed you a shortcut.’ I don’t know if that’s true, but boy, it’s nice that he thinks that. People can learn a lot from [him]. My life has definitely changed because of him.”
The second season of “One Day at a Time” marked Kellett’s directorial debut: She helmed the penultimate episode entitled “Citizen Lydia” on the advice of veteran sitcom director Pamela Fryman. “There aren’t many Latina directors, but Pamela Fryman said, ‘I know someone — you!’” Kellett says. She not only keeps close mementos such as the slate from that episode, but also items and photos from all of her past projects. “I’m surrounded by what got me here,” she says. “When I’m talking to up-and-coming writers and they ask me a question and I give them an answer, sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh wow, I do know all of that.’”
Head of the Family
Sitting front and center on Kellett’s desk is a name placard that simply says “Boss Lady.” She displays the gift from her daughter proudly because she “loves that she knows I’m the boss.” Kellett’s two young children often come to work with her, and she’s glad to be making programming that positively portrays Latinos so that they will be proud of their heritage.
Inclusion is something Kellett is passionate about and she has tagged her whiteboard with some key social-media initiatives. She is an adviser for 50-50 by 2020, an organization striving for gender parity in Hollywood, and also dedicated to rallying around other Latinas in the industry. “There were women who wouldn’t really talk to each other because they felt like there’s one job and you’re all going for that one job,” she says. But there doesn’t have to be just one spot, so Kellett’s hope is to “create room” for everyone. “One person’s win is everyone’s win, and if there’s one then there will be two and on.”