Radio-television-film professor discusses career turning points at Media Industry Conversation

John Melendez

When asked about her decade-long career in television, executive producer Felicia Henderson, who has worked on television shows including “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Sister, Sister” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” said the industry holds a lot of surprises.

“Every single show I’ve ever been on, I feel like I’ve seen everything, and then… there’s something where I go ‘haven’t seen that before,’” Henderson said.

On Monday, the Department of Radio-Television-Film held a Media Industry Conversation on Henderson’s experiences as a writer, producer and director. The discussion was open to the public with about 100 students attending. Henderson, a radio-television-film assistant professor, has a career that has spanned many different positions, but she said her writing career started with TV scripts.

“I got a chance to read a lot of pilot scripts and a lot of them were really horrible,” Henderson said. “‘How much money do they pay you to be this horrible?’ I got answers to those questions and I was like, ‘Well, I think I want to be a writer.’”

Radio-television-film junior Kayla Najjar said Henderson’s decision to join the industry later in life gives more hope to those pursuing careers in the field.

“It was really interesting that she didn’t intentionally have this career (in mind).” Najjar said. “You think as a writer, (they’ve) been writing (their) whole life.”

Henderson shared personal stories about the television industry, such as how she could afford her first home because of the money she made working on Family Matters. She also talked about the differences between writing comedy and drama and said writers often find themselves in a box once they work in a certain genre.

“It’s very hard to get out of (the box),” Henderson said. “Maybe a little less so (now), but I’m still a bit of an oddity in that I do both.”

Radio-television-film junior Christopher Callison, a student in one of Henderson’s classes, said she shares a lot of stories and gives a lot of practical advice to students. Callison said Henderson’s discussion of the ways the TV industry has changed gave him new ideas to help him reach his goal of becoming a TV writer.

“It definitely made me a little more willing to just throw everything out there,” Callison said. “You don’t have to go the traditional media route. You can put (your work) online and someone can find it.”