The MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media Program hosted a conversation with award-winning writer and producer Felicia D. Henderson. After beginning her writing career in sitcoms like Family Matters, Moesha, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, and Sister, Sister; Henderson turned her attention to television drama writing and received three NAACP Best Drama Awards for Soul Food, television’s first long-running multi-season drama featuring African Americans. She received a Gracie Allen Award for her depiction of women and a Prism Award for Accurate Depictions of Social Issues. She also garnered a Writers Guild of America (WGA) nomination for Fringe and a Gracie Award for The Quad.
“Felicia Henderson is a force of nature,” said Ross Brown, Chair of the MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media. “Our MFA students were effusive in saying how informative and inspiring she was. We are so grateful to Felicia for being so generous with her time, wisdom and insights with our students.”
KCRW’s Jonathan Bastian sat down with Henderson in front of a live audience of MFA faculty and students at Antioch University Santa Barbara to discuss her career trajectory from her childhood love of narrative to writing and producing some of the top shows on television.
Henderson is the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of The Quad, a one-hour drama for BET Networks, which starred Tony Award-winners Anika Noni Rose and Ruben Santiago-Hudson and was named one of the “Top 15 Shows to Watch” by The New York Times in 2017. In 2017-2018, Ms. Henderson co-executive produced the Netflix adaptation of Marvel’s The Punisher, which debuted in fall 2017.
In 2018, through her production company, WaterWalk Entertainment, Inc., she signed a three-year creative development contract with 20th Century Fox to create television comedies and dramas. Under this deal, she will Executive Produce three television series for the Fox network during the 2020-2021 season. Last season, she was a consulting producer on Fox’s Empire. Currently, she is a consulting producer on Next, an FBI cyber-crime drama set to premiere on Fox in March 2020.
Having earned BA and MFA degrees from UCLA, Ms. Henderson was honored with UCLA’s Tom Bradley Alumnus of the Year Award in 2014 and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2010. Continually in pursuit of knowledge, she is a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. Her research interests include culture, class, race, and gender issues in television writers’ rooms, political economics of the 2007 WGA strike, and the “othering” of single women in the media. She has written chapters for two textbooks, and her critical essays have been published in some of the most prestigious academic journals in her field.
Ms. Henderson is a member of the Diversity Committee for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab; a trustee for the Humanitas Prize, and a mentor for the Humanitas Prize New Voices program. She is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (a public service sorority); a board member of Dancing N.E.D. (a non-profit that raises funds for the treatment of women’s cancers); and an honorary board member of Los Angeles based Coalition for Restoring At-Risk Youth (a non-profit that provides social, mental, and medical care to at-risk and homeless youth). Recently, she partnered with the San Gabriel Children’s Center to provide basic living and home supplies to boys who are aging out of foster care and moving into transitional housing.