Jessica Queller on “Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl,” and more on
“At Home With The Creative Coalition”
New York, New York (May 5, 2021) TV writer/producer Jessica Queller (“Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl”) sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Queller opens up about writing for some of TV’s biggest shows — including “Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl,” and “Gilmore Girls” — the harrowing story behind her first book, what’s next, and more. Highlights below.
“At Home With The Creative Coalition,” sponsored by the Pioneering Collective, is available on Apple Podcasts,
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Jessica Queller —
On her familiarity with the DC Universe before “Supergirl”:
“I’m scared to out myself. I always joke that people at Comic-Con would throw tomatoes at me if they really knew. I had no DC comic book experience whatsoever when I started on this show. None […] I had to be a very quick study and I’m very fortunate because our staff — I’m surrounded by people who are comic book experts — so Robert and I both have an incredible staff who fills in the gaps. We’re also partnered with DC who gives us the characters that we’re allowed to use and provides us just reams of information about each character and their history. But no, I was the least qualified person to be the showrunner of a DC Comic show when I started.”
On why she’s a good fit for “Supergirl”:
“I love storytelling and I’ve loved storytelling since I was a kid […] I think the reason that I’m a good fit for ‘Supergirl’ is because that, although it’s a comic book show about superheroes, it’s really about people. It’s about a young woman trying to fall in love, and have friends […] and live a full life. And also, help others, and be a hero, and balance all of the different aspects. And yes, she can fly, and she has heat vision, but it’s really — they’re really human stories about relationships. I love exploring people’s characters and hearts and, you know, telling stories that move people.”
On which season of “Supergirl” makes her the most proud and the gift of writing the show:
“I’m the most proud of season four of ‘Supergirl,’ the season that Robert and I took over from the beginning and we told political allegories about what was going on in our world that are still going on. But we did an allegory about immigration and aliens, and our aliens were actually aliens from other planets […] It’s like you’re watching TV or you’re watching the news and you’re reading The New York Times and [feeling] so frustrated and children are being ripped from the arms of their moms’ and being locked in cages. And so when I’m frustrated and upset and indignant about things going on in the world, it’s such a gift that I can go to work and say, ‘Let’s tell a story about this.’”
On “Gossip Girl” and infusing part of herself into the character of Blair:
“‘Gossip Girl’ was a lot of fun. It was a zeitgeisty moment. It really had just such a strong wave of being a part of something special. It may not have always had the best moral values, but it was a guilty pleasure and it was just such a special moment in time. I really infused a lot into the character of Blair. She’s a Scorpio because I’m a Scorpio. She was very literary because I infused her with love of Edith Wharton and Russian novels and Chekov […] I graduated high school in ‘87 so going to high school in the ‘80s was a very materialistic, crazy time in New York; ‘Gossip Girl’ embodied a lot of that.”
On the harrowing story behind her book “Pretty Is What Changes: Impossible Choices, The Breast Cancer Gene, and How I Defied My Destiny”:
“It took me until age 31 to get my first professional job as a TV staff writer in television. At the same time, I got my break as a TV writer, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That was the worst thing to this day that’s ever happened to me. So she was told she had five years to live, but she died within two. So my mom died when I was 33 of ovarian cancer — she had both breast and ovarian cancer. Then the next year, I was writing on ‘Gilmore Girls’ […] and I tested positive for the BRCA mutation, which was a brand new test. Doctors did not know how to advise me. At the time, no one had even heard of the test. I took it on a lark and it was just really a fluke that I knew of it at all. And my best friend from Tufts, my college roommate, happened to be working at the op-ed page of The New York Times at that time, and she asked if I would be interested in writing an op-ed piece about the quandary of ‘Is knowledge power or is ignorance bliss?’ What it means to have this knowledge that you have a 90 percent chance of getting breast cancer most likely before the age of 50 when you are a 34-year-old woman. So I wrote an op-ed piece and it got a lot of attention because this was not yet something that was in the zeitgeist or known about and it just sort of snowballed. And then my agents called and asked if I’d be interested in writing a book and it really had a momentum of its own […] So then I wrote a book and that’s how it happened.”
On what’s next:
“I have always wanted to write indie films […] I am dying to write an indie film. I’m a little hesitant to direct, but I’m kind of interested in directing if I got my courage up. That would just be a dream. But also, my true dream is to be a playwright. Theater is my roots.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. “At Home With The Creative Coalition” is sponsored by the Pioneering Collective. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include David Alan Basche (“The Exes,” “United 93”), Asante Blackk (“When They See Us,” “This Is Us”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us,” “Dallas Buyers Club”), Willie Garson (“Hawaii Five-0,” “White Collar”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Avengers”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions,” “Takes One to Know One”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace,” “Travelers”), Rob Morrow (“Billions,” “The Fosters”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Alysia Reiner (“Better Things,” “Orange Is the New Black”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), Reid Scott (“Why Women Kill,” “Veep”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” “UCB Comedy Originals”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), and Constance Zimmer (“Condor,” “UnREAL”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Harley Quinn,” “Saturday Night Seder”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “My So-Called Life”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch,” “Instinct,” “The Good Wife”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“Tesla,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word,” “Nightcap”), Jason Isaacs (“The OA,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Big Mouth,” “Gotham”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl,” “Life in Pieces,” “Pretty Little Liars”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck,” “90210”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs,” “Reno 911!”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters,” “Arrow”), Kathy Najimy (“Hocus Pocus,” “Sister Act”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “The Muppets”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Rent”), and Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Frida,” “The Glorias”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.