Laura Tremaine, host of the podcast The Smartest Person in the Room, interviews Julie Hébert about her career in theatre, film and television. Julie takes us on an inspiring journey from small town Louisiana to her current position as Executive Producer/Writer/ Director on the award-winning ABC series American Crime.
We get a glimpse of the dynamics in the Writer’s Room of a television drama and the responsibilities writers feel to their audiences. Julie discusses being a woman in a male-dominated industry and why it’s important for directors to wear boots. We also get a sneak-peek into current and future projects.
Laura leads a fascinating conversation giving an inside view into the workings of Hollywood and the life of a free-lance writer/director.
Hi friends! I’m delighted to be moderating a discussion Friday night November 11th with Dana Calvo, Jeanine Oppewall and Cynthia Pusheck, creators of the new Amazon show Good Girls Revolt. We’ll talk after a screening of their pilot at the beautiful Wilshire-Ebell Theater. I’d love to see you there. Come and get some inspiration from this true story of women banding together to create change.
Hey ya’ll, I just finished directing the second episode of this season’s American Crime, written by the almighty John Ridley and involving a conflagration pulled off with the help of my old buddy Tom Bellissimo. The episode will air in January. So loved working with our returning ensemble… Felicity Huffman, Regina King, Richard Cabral, Benito Martinez, Connor Jessup… and with our stellar new cast… Cherry Jones, Sandra Oh, Dallas Roberts and Tim DeKay. A real honor.
Okay, second visit to the Emmys– way more relaxed. We knew our way around this time, starting with driving up Pico instead of Olympic to get there, which saved us at least 20 minutes of waiting in a line of cars. Good start. We also knew to eat a little before we left, AND I brought almonds in my purse in case we became desperate. Turns out this was unnecessary because not only did they have mini-burgers in the lounge when we arrived (Kenn had one and said they were good) in the middle of the broadcast Jimmy Kimmel sent around lunch sacks from his mom filled with peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a cookie, an apple and a juice box. By that time everyone really was hungry and we — along with 7000 of our over-dressed colleagues — scarfed it up. It was a kick to see elegant men in their tuxedos and women dripping in diamonds licking their fingers and enjoying the pbj’s. One of my favorite moments. Thanks Jimmy’s mom.
Walking the red carpet was more chill this time, too, despite the 100 degree heat because they’d erected a cover and hedges and had water available and all the folks guiding us along were cheery and helpful. They did a great job of moving thousands of socializing people into place for an on-time start to a live broadcast. Not easy and they did it with grace. I don’t know if it was aired on the Emmy broadcast, but before the show started three kids from Stranger Things sang and danced Uptown Funk and I LOVED it. They were adorable and fun and super-talented. Glad I was in my seat ahead of time to see it.
I’m pretty bad at recognizing famous people and I kept saying to Kenn: Look, that’s so-and-so! and he’d say: No, it isn’t. And he was right. I mis-identified several seat-fillers but thank god I didn’t request their autographs. Meanwhile, I was so delighted to see some of my favorite people up on the big screen for their nominations, including Lili Taylor, Felicity Huffman, Lesli Linka Glatter, Lily Tomlin and many more. When Lily Tomlin didn’t win, you could see her mouth the words “Oh, damn it!” I love her. Also absolutely loved that Susanne Bier won best director for a limited series. She is a phenomenal director and it makes me so happy for women of talent to be recognized. Then, of course, our own Regina King won best supporting actress in a limited series for American Crime, and we leapt from our seats with tears in our eyes. Okay, Michael McDonald and I did, not Kenn, but he was proud of her, too. Turns out Regina’s win was the ONLY win of the night for anyone from broadcast television. Gave us a little lift.
Afterwards, we tromped over to the Governor’s Ball (my feet in stiletto heels were beginning to scream at this point… ah, vanity…) but when we walked in– the decor was breathtaking. Kenn says it’s like the most over-the-top high school prom you can imagine. Last year it felt like we’d been catapulted out into the universe and this year it was more Hobbit-like with lush, draped greenery
hanging from the fifty-foot ceiling. An elevated, wedding-cake-like platform in the middle held an orchestra and singers who keep shifting through the evening. Magical.
We found our table then wandered around talking to friends and colleagues. Very happy to see some of our brilliant Season Two cast including Joey Pollari, Elvis Nolasco and Connor Jessup, as well as Ms. Cherry Jones, who will be joining us for Season Three. Damn, it’s fun to know amazingly talented people who are all such sweethearts.
Dinner was yummy and at our table we ate, drank and chatted with writer-producers Diana Son and Keith Huff and his wife Georgette, as well as our AD Kayse Goodell. Really lovely.
And we were out– except for the long walk back to the valet. I admit removing the stilettos and enjoying the red carpet in bare feet! Goodbye 2016 Emmys.
Regina King accepting her Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress
Julie was honored to continue her work with John Ridley and Michael McDonald for the second season of critically acclaimed American Crime on ABC. The Writers Room on this series is one of the most diverse, if not the most diverse, on television, leading to the powerful, original storytelling the show is known for. Collaborating with these writers was an unforgettable experience. Ridley and McDonald extend this dedication to diversity both in front of camera and behind it, creating an artistic community reflective of our society. Julie directed Episode Four and wrote Episode Nine. Shooting with the mondo-talented cast and crew in Austin was the highlight of 2015.
Check out the promo videos below for American Crime Season 2!
American Crime Season 2 promo video:
American Crime Season 2 Episode 4 promo directed by Julie:
American Crime Season 2 Episode 9 written by Julie:
Once again a total joy to hang out in Austin for a few weeks, directing Episode 204 of American Crime. I could not have had a better time working with our world-class actors and crew who are tremendously talented and deeply collaborative. Really something. I feel such gratitude to all. Here I am chained to a post for safety while shooting inside a moving bus. (Christena Alcorn our intrepid Script Supervisor is my wing-woman.) Now on to write Episode 209! Back in Austin in November. Yes!
Going to the Emmy’s for the first time was a trip. Our show, American Crime, was nominated for ten Emmy’s, the most for any broadcast show.
Juliet Hébert and Lori-etta Taub at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards
That was amazing and happily, our own Regina King won for her brilliant work, but she was the only one for us that night; however, all the writers and our spouses were seated close to the front (just behind the Orange is the New Black folks with whom my husband kept trading jokes…) so we had a close-up view of the stage and all the luminaries. In the excitement of getting ready I forgot to power up my phone, which died soon after we arrived! So not too many behind-the-scenes photos… but here’s what I got:
Lessons Learned (in case there is ever a second trip to the Emmy’s…)
Andy Samberg gets it started
1. Thank the person who does your hair, then brush it out after they leave.
2. Pay attention when your spouse asks “Are you sure you want to wear that?”
3. Four-inch heels are for people under fifty.
4. Safely ignore all of the above because no one’s looking at you anyway.
5. Drive your own car.
6. Meet your friends ASAP. The crowd is nervous, over-dressed and desperate.
7. Beware of martinis with too much vermouth! The bartenders are cute, but…
8. Remember: You are a VIP. One of 7,000 VIP’s in attendance. Hmmm.
9. Be jovial when you are herded into chutes designed to move cattle, er, I mean VIP’s.
10. Smile when you lose, cry when you win, and don’t skip the after-party. The food’s good.
Just got back from Austin where I was working on my episode of American Crime, the new series created by John Ridley, Academy-Award winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave. The show will air in March 2015, but meanwhile we’re all working like crazy to bring this powerful, subtle story to life.
My episode (108, we’re not using titles, just numbers…) focuses heavily on a character played by the amazing Felicity Huffman, who was a dream to work with. I also had a tremendous time working with Tim Hutton and Regina King. Truly, the entire cast of this show is stellar; everyone attends the work with such intelligence and seriousness that it’s inspirational. In fact, all of us – cast, crew, writers, producers – have the feeling that this is a special experience and everyone is bringing their A-game.
The crew is kick-ass, including our first-time director Rachel Morrison (cinematographer of Fruitvale Station, among other indy movies) who did a great job on the biggest episode of the series so far. Here she is in the scout van, working away in anticipation of our GIGANTIC shoot in San Marcos, which included hundreds of extras, SWAT teams, stunts, weapons firing, tear gas, horses, dogs and children. We threw everything we had at Rachel and she handled it with grace, toughness and humor, getting the job done like the pro she is.
A few photos of our days on set:
Julie with Director of Photography Ramsey Nickell
During my (brief!) downtime, I was able to explore Austin a bit. Great food, great people. Love this city. Here are a couple of favorite photos:
The dome of the state capitol building:
A Saturday festival on Sixth Street:
Then back to set before dawn on most days.
I am thrilled to be working on this series with these wonderful people. Keep a look out for American Crime in March 2015.
We are excited to announce that Julie Hébert is the Co-Executive Producer of the new television series “American Crime” created by John Ridley, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave. The series films in Austin, Texas, and will air on ABC in March of 2015. American Crime is set in small-town California and centers around a racially charged murder and the repercussions for all the families involved. ABC directed the creative team to “Be bold.” and that’s what they’re doing. Julie says, “I’m very happy to be working on this deep and nuanced story with such brave, talented people.” The series features an ensemble cast including Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton.
Check out the trailer below for the first look into American Crime:
“Your Wild Life’s Gonna Get You Down” is Julie’s third time to direct an episode of Nashville. The show follows the travails and triumphs of country music stars in the center of this famous city.
Julie loves returning to her native South to work on the show; lately she’s been to the Bluebird Cafe, The Grand Ole Opry, and the Ryman and can’t wait to go back. Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.
You can read an episode recap on Entertainment Weekly here You can watch this episode on Hulu here