Karin Gist is shinning. The Star showrunner and executive producer is elevating television as one of the few Black female showrunners in the industry, and she’s taken on her role in stride. Still, Gist’s journey in TV which led her to the sets of Girlfriends, One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy, and Revenge among others didn’t start off as seamlessly as one would assume. Ahead of the mid-series premiere of Star and during Women’s History Month, Shadow and Act sat down to chat with Gist about her career, why showrunning speaks to her soul, and how it feels to be one of the only Black women calling the shots in television.
Gist’s path to storytelling was unconventional to say the least. “I moved out to LA to practice law for about two and a half years, and honestly I was spending most of my day daydreaming in my law office just knowing that it wasn’t the right choice in life for me,” she explained. “I had this feeling that there was a now or never. Why not take a risk and try to do something that I thought I’d love? Ultimately, I ended up loving it. I love writing for television and telling stories. I tried to find a path to that even in practicing law. I moved from corporate law to family law at one point, and that was more interesting because of course, it’s stories about people and emotions. It was interesting, but still, I was yearning to do something more creative and luckily I found my path on Girlfriends — my first show.”
Throughout her career, Gist has focused on female-centric stories. For the Spelman alum, it’s been a blessing to put women at the center. “I’ve always said how lucky I was to fall into my dream job on my dream show, Girlfriends,” she revealed. “I was able to learn the craft and practice the craft but tell stories that reflected my life at the time and my friends at the time. That is such a rare thing, especially in this business, especially as a Black woman. So, that was a happy coincidence. I am drawn to telling stories about women, about women of color. That has become my drive in storytelling. I just so happened to get my first job on a show like that.”
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