Nkechi Okoro Carroll blazes a trail for other Black women in television

Carroll is currently the showrunner for three different network shows, including "All American" and its spinoff, "All American: Homecoming."

Nkechi Okoro Carroll is making history in Hollywood, serving as a Black woman showrunner for three different network television shows.

As NPR reports, Carroll is holding down a rare space in the TV industry, one that’s typically reserved for white men. Prior to her career in Hollywood, she worked in education and as an economist at the Federal Reserve in Manhattan.

As a result of her unique background, Carroll has been able to excel in her current role in the entertainment world. 

Nkechi Okoro Carroll attends the “All American: Homecoming” screening during SCAD TVFest 2023 on Feb. 10, 2023, in Atlanta. (Photo: Derek White/Getty Images for SCAD)

She has an office at the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, where she manages the budgets, production and writing for multiple shows. Carroll oversees The CW’s “All American,” its spinoff “All American: Homecoming,” and the upcoming series “Found,” which debuts on NBC this fall.

“If I have something I want to say about the world, I can put it in a script, and in six weeks, it will be on the air. [Whether] it’s what I want to say to my son, or what I want to say to the wider world,” she said in a recent interview with NPR. 

The New York native and child of Nigerian parents embeds some of her own real-life experiences, as well as current societal issues, into the plots of her shows.

Growing up, Carroll’s mother was not always supportive of her daughter’s love of writing. She recalls her mom telling her when she was younger that working as a doctor, banker or lawyer were her only three career options. When Carroll landed a gig at the Federal Reserve, she spent much of her free time learning how to write television shows by studying scripts she downloaded off the Internet. But the 9/11 terror attacks would be a turning point. 

After two airplanes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Carroll found herself barricaded under the Federal Reserve with coworkers. The harrowing moment “was a real wake-up call,” Carroll revealed.

“It was one of those things [afterward] where it’s like, ‘OK, you’re getting a second chance at life,” she continued. “‘What are you doing with it?'”

“All American” star Taye Diggs (left) and showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll (right) attend 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour – Day 13 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Aug. 4, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Carroll decided to pack up and move to L.A. to fervently pursue her dreams of working in television. She eventually met with Emmy Award winner Lena Waithe, and the two developed Waithe’s hit series, “The Chi,” the Showtime drama that premiered in 2018. Their creative collaboration ultimately led to the formation of Black Women Who Brunch. The group consists of Black female writers trying to advance in television.

According to Carroll, Black Women Who Brunch has nearly 200 members who connect in person and virtually via Zoom. 

“I know there are more voices than mine out there. We were determined to find them,” said Carroll, “and … help each other get more jobs.”

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