HRTS Member Profile: Cara Dellaverson
Cara Dellaverson is Senior Vice President, Lionsgate Television. I recently had a chance to interview Cara to discuss development, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and shooting on location in Nashville.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-Growing up in Los Angeles with an entertainment lawyer for a father, I have been surrounded by and fascinated with the television industry from an early age. I have always loved watching television and spent many hours of my childhood convincing my parents it was appropriate for me to watch shows that were definitely NOT appropriate. Let’s just say I had a lot of follow up questions after an episode of Three’s Company. My love of storytelling continued through college where I majored in English and when I was old enough to really consider what career I wanted to pursue, entertainment was always my first choice. I was fortunate enough to have Bob Broder as my first boss and my time at BWCS solidified my love for television and my desire to work in this field. After a stint in the unscripted world I have spent the last 9 years working in television at Lionsgate both in current and development and have only grown to love it more, especially with the incredible wealth of talent working in TV right now.
Q: How did you first get involved with the HRTS?
-From the time I was an assistant at the agency I remember hearing about the HRTS luncheons and looking forward to being in that room. When our chairman of the television group, Kevin Beggs, encouraged us to participate in HRTS I was very excited to be included in this incredibly valued and respected organization. The luncheon panel discussions never disappoint and I think the mentor program is also a wonderful resource. I have had some very talented and dynamic mentees I have met through HRTS and have really enjoyed the process.
Q: What is a favorite memory from your career thus far?
-Nashville being picked up to series is definitely at the top of the list. We all were very invested in and proud of that pilot and finding out that we were going to be producing our first broadcast network drama was incredibly exciting and gratifying. I continue to be amazed by how many people still tell me they love that pilot and how hard core the fans of that show are. I have also loved working on Mad Men since Season 2. It is incredible to be a part of a series that has had such a profound cultural impact and that people continue to be so passionate about. It also makes people really excited to sit next to you at a dinner party.
Q: What do you look for when developing a new show?
-As an independent studio, we have a lot of freedom in terms of what we can develop and where we can sell. This keeps the development process really exciting and allows us to be idea driven. Of course like many in the development business, we are always looking for fresh and unique voices that are finding a different way to tell a relatable story. But more than that we are hoping to be provoked, inspired or moved, and if something elicits that kind of emotional response we know we are on the right track. We hear a lot of great ideas but I am always waiting for the one that gets under my skin and stays with me, the pitch that I am still thinking about and talking about days later.
Q: What are some of the keys to the breakout success of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK?
-I think OITNB is a particularly special show for several reasons. The creator, Jenji Kohan, has one of those incredibly unique voices that really resonates with people and the tone of that show is really something you can’t find anywhere else. She comes up with moments in that show that have all of us shaking our head in disbelief, in the best possible way. Combined with a ridiculously talented and diverse cast that doesn’t feel like your typical TV casting and you have what all of us are hoping for, a look into a unique world through the eyes of compelling and unforgettable characters. Netflix has also been a wonderful and collaborative partner and the unique binge watching factor their service allows has definitely contributed to the accessibility and novelty of the show.
Q: What’s it like shooting NASHVILLE on location?
-Shooting in Nashville has been such an important part of making the show feel realistic and we have loved that we have been able to have the city be such a character in the series. Having the cast live in this world and immerse themselves in the places that are meaningful to their characters has really added another layer of authenticity to the show that sets it apart. The city has been extremely welcoming and accommodating, and we have been fortunate to be able to take advantage of so many incredible locations and have access to so much talent. Not to mention the amazing food and stellar live music! If you have to be on location for work, Nashville is pretty hard to beat.
Q: How do you see the industry changing over the next few years?
-I think with the proliferation and success of the streaming platforms and on demand services from the networks, we will continue to see viewing habits shift toward mobile devices, phones and smart TVs and it will be increasingly difficult to get people to tune in live. While it is very exciting to have more buyers (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) that allow the content creators the freedom to tell stories without some of the restrictions they might have in more traditional ad supported formats, it also makes the landscape more competitive and challenges all of us to think of new and interesting ways to have our shows rise above the noise.
Q: Anything you would like to add?
-It seems to be a common sentiment right now but it is a wonderful and inspiring time to be working in TV. I am regularly struck by the originality and quality of the storytelling we are seeing today and am very excited to a part of the process as the business evolves.