Our Second Life podcast (released on Mondays) is growing! On Wednesdays, we’ll be releasing a limited series called Life Lessons in partnership with Cartier, in which Who What Wear Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer Hillary Kerr will chat with women who’ve had incredible careers within a single field or industry. Subscribe to Second Lifeon iTunes, and stay tuned. This week, Hillary talks to Jenni Konner, a producer who’s worked on some of our favorite TV shows, including Girls and Undeclared.
Native New Yorker Jenni Konner grew up knowing she wanted to be involved in entertainment (no surprise, given that both of her parents were acclaimed television writers), but she didn’t necessarily know that she wanted to be a producer. Or that she’d eventually find herself at the helm of one of the most discussed shows on television six seasons running (that’d be HBO’s Girls, which she co-created with actress Lena Dunham), regularly appearing on the red carpet and handling interview requests.
No, her earliest years post-college were spent paying her dues: She worked as a runner at the Emmys (a job she admits she wasn’t the greatest at, given her self-appointed status as “the slowest driver in Los Angeles”), read scripts at TriBeCa, and worked as a temp at Chanel in the publicity department while pursuing writing on the side. Eventually, she and her early writing partner, Alexandra Rushfield (now known for her work on shows like Shrill, Parks and Recreation, and Love) made their way into the writing room at Undeclared, where they absorbed as much as they could from the show’s creator, Judd Apatow.
“The thing I learned the most was the teaching people while you’re working with them,” Konner says. “A big thing I learned from him is to try to mentor people while they’re working for you, and explain to them why they’re doing this and show them what editing looks like, and bring them into casting if it’s their episode.”
She also says that her experience of being one of the only women in a writing room back in those early days underlined the importance of making diversity a priority for her when she was in charge later on in her career as a producer on shows like Girls and Camping.
Konner (who says that feeling out new creative partnerships is a bit like dating) is quick to point out the importance of pulling in people you genuinely enjoy being around, given the serious amount of time you’ll all be spending on set together: “I have to tell you, we had almost the exact same crew for all of the years of Girls, and they were like family by the end.”