Jennie Snyder Urman

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Jennie Snyder Urman (born June 6, 1975)[1] is an American television producer. She grew up in Rye, New York, United States.[2] Urman completed her post-secondary education at Princeton University, graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Certificate from the Program in Theater.[2] She is married to husband, Jamie Urman, a cinematographer; they have two children, a son named Theo, and a daughter named Poppy.[1]

Urman has been involved in the production of numerous well known and successful television programs including: Hope & Faith, Gilmore Girls, Men in Trees, Lipstick Jungle, 90210, Emily Owens, M.D., Reign, Jane the Virgin and most recently Charmed.

Career[edit]

Jennie Snyder Urman "was named one of Variety's '10 TV Writer's to Watch' in 2012."[2] Urman worked initially as a waitress in New York City while she looked for opportunities in front of the camera.[1] Her acting endeavors were to no avail as she describes herself as not "thick-skinned enough or perhaps talented enough or wanted it enough as a career"[1] to be in front of the lens. Verini states, that Urman "like many tyros, initially found it hard to stop defining herself by her day job" she was told "'to stop waitressing. This is a job.'"[3] On September 10, 2001, Urman and her friend, Victoria Webster, left New York City for Los Angeles to pursue a career writing for television. Urman describes the historical context of the move from New York, as "disconcerting"[1] given the duo landed on the West Coast, one day prior to September 11th, 2001.[1] Bob Verini, postulates that Urman "deciding to crank out a slew of spec TV episodes with an old college roommate proved the catalyst for [her], who in less than a decade has [since] parlayed credits on Gilmore Girls and 90210 into creating and exec producing The CW's fall medical skein Emily Owens, M.D.."[3]

Urman got her start in television writing in 2003, working as a staff writer on the ABC Comedy, Hope & Faith. She worked with the show for a period of three years, first as a writer, then as a story editor, and in her final year, she became the executive story editor.[1] In an interview with the Alumni of Princeton, Urman explains "[the] ladder you climb when you're a TV writer. You start as a staff writer and go through each level until you become an executive producer."[2] The hierarchy is as follows: writer's assistant, staff writer, story editor, executive story editor, co-producer, supervising producer, co-executive producer, executive producer, and lastly, show-runner.[4] This lateral progression in the industry was exemplified by Urman's entry into the world of television as a staff writer for Hope & Faith. Over the following three years, she was promoted to story editor and then executive story writer.[1] Verini notes that her success in just over a decade is a result of her "entry into the industry [that] coincided with the heyday of TV 'dramedy." Verini describes this as "an amalgam to which [Urman's] instincts are particularly suited."[3]

Television[edit]

[1]

Title Year (s) Television Program
Staff Writer
Story Editor
Executive Story Editor
2003–2004
2004–2005
2005–2006
Hope & Faith
Co-Producer 2006–2007 Gilmore Girls
Producer 2007–2008 Men in Trees
Supervising Producer 2008–2009 Lipstick Jungle
Supervising Producer
Co-Executive Producer
2009
2009–2011
90210
Creator, Executive Producer, Writer 2012–2013 Emily Owens, M.D.
Consulting Producer 2013–2014 Reign
Executive Producer 2014–present Jane the Virgin
Executive Producer, Writer, Developer 2018– Charmed

Jane the Virgin[edit]

This show was inspired and adapted from Perla Farias' Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen with a log line that reads "a girl gets artificially inseminated."[1] When initially introduced to the inspiration behind Jane the Virgin, Urman thought, "I don't know about that. That sounds too crazy for me."[1] It was the log line that for the series that caused Urman to pause, yet the "success has been somewhat of a fairy-tale for both the network and Urman."[1] Additionally, she "wears many hats on Jane- EP, showrunner, writer-- and she particularly likes that the show allows her to explore relationships and write complex women."[1] Rodriguez comments about her first impressions of Urman's script, stating: "Who is this women who wrote this? [she] is brilliant. She's my muse. I am absolutely in love with this woman because she's writing about a girl who...[can] transcend cultural boundaries that Latinos tend to have in the industry."[5]

Filmography[edit]

Something Borrowed (2011)[edit]

2011's Something Borrowed was a change of pace for Urman as she embarked on writing for the film industry. Critics such as A.O Scott reviewed Urman's first attempt in Luke Greenfield's Something Borrowed. In his article "New Lovers and the Old Triangle," he describes the film as "a well-meaning comedy of marriage that seems ardently committed to the blandness of its characters."[6] Despite the film being based on Emily Griffin's novel of the same name, Urman received the brunt of the criticism for the dialogue in particular. Scott writing in the New York Times, criticized not only the characterization, but also the diction, quoting from the film: "'I didn't think someone like you could like someone like me,' Rachel says to Dex."[6] Scott targets this writing as " a line that is both typical of the quality of script (by Jenny Snyder Urman) and also completely mystifying since it is impossible to say what either Dex or Rachel is like, apart from being, like, likable".[6] This film marks both a first and a last for Urman as "she found she missed television's creative opportunities as well as writers' room camaraderie."[3]

Legacy[edit]

The Sunday Tribune published "The Women Breaking TV's Old-School Rules". In this article, Nahnatchka Khan, who calls the shots for Fresh Off the Boat says that "working in writers' rooms dominated by white men was a constant… [however] she's seen a noticeable change in the past five years with the emergence of… Jenny Snyder Urman, among others."[7] In an industry dominated by a specific subset of the population, Urman understood the importance of a gender diverse creative team. For instance, with Jane the Virgin, Urman "reached out to her agents as the show geared up for its second season with a predominantly female writing team"[8] and said "We need a man. Send me some."[8] Furthermore, her daughter Poppy inspires Urman "to put smart women on screen, who have dreams and who are thoughtful. That doesn't have to turn out to be a boring character."[4] Urman's legacy can be encapsulated with this statement concerning "the heightened demand for content that has been good for female creatives. [With] a new-found openness to material, no matter how challenging or narrowly focused, [she] has paved the way for shows with fresh themes."[7] In addition, "women writers are finding TV a place where they can explore intimate and personal stories that tackle topics that are interesting to them."[7] An example of a deeply personal experience for Urman, as depicted in Jane the Virgin, is Jane's troublesome pregnancy. According to star, Gina Rodriguez, the show has "dealt with really heavy baby issues, dealing with a spot on the baby's heart. That actually happened to Jennie. It's a very serious fear of women when they're pregnant."[5] In addition to raising awareness about the anxieties of a complicated pregnancy, Urman also highlights another important issues through her medium, such as the "immigration reform, [with] the fact that Jane's grandmother was undocumented."[5] Rodriguez comments that "it really put awareness on the issue without any judgments."[5]

Personal[edit]

Urman completed her post-secondary education at Princeton University, graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Certificate from the Program in Theater.[2] She is married to husband, Jamie Urman, a cinematographer; they have two children, a son named Theo, and a daughter named Poppy.[1]

Jennie Snyder Urman has established an important work-life balance despite the constant demands of her work.[2] According to Urman, she is questioned often about her "work-life balance…[which] strikes me as sort of funny, because it's not something that often gets asked of men in this business. It's been a balancing act, and I feel lucky that I found a true partner in my husband. We support each other in all aspects of life, so when my work-life balance gets out of whack, he steps up and takes off of work to be home with the kids, something I'm really grateful for." [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Walsten, Jessika. "Virgin an immaculate conception for EP: Urman's embrace of out-there story, complex characters helps fast-track series." Broadcasting & Cable 23 Mar. 2015: 26. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 Sept. 2015"
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Jennie Snyder Urman '99 - Lewis Center for the Arts". Arts.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-03.
  3. ^ a b c d Verini, Bob. "Jennie Snyder Urman: 'Emily Owens, M.D' a prescription for CW success." Daily Variety 7 June 2012: 14. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
  4. ^ a b Lauren Le Vine (2015-01-08). "Female Showrunners Give Advice". Refinery29.com. Retrieved 2015-10-03.
  5. ^ a b c d Stilson, Janet. "Women On the Verge: Fresh Off her Golden Globe Win". ADWEEK.
  6. ^ a b c "New Lovers and the Old Triangle." The New York Times, 6 May 2011, Weekend Arts sec.: C13. by Scott, A O.
  7. ^ a b c "The Women Breaking TV's Old-School Rules." Sunday Tribune (South Africa). Independent Print Ltd. 2015. HighBeam Research.
  8. ^ a b Littleton, Cynthia. "Women of CW: Exec Producers Talk Running Shows, Fighting Back Tears and Seeking Balance." Variety. Daily Variety, 11 Aug. 2015. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.

Sources[edit]

  • Stilson, Janet. "Woman on the Verge: Fresh off her Golden Globe win, Gina Rodriguez, Star of the CW's Jane the Virgin, talks about a Comedy that's hit a Cultural Nerve not only here but also in 170 Markets Worldwide." ADWEEK. March 23, 2015. Accessed September 18, 2015.
  • Verini, Bob. "Jennie Snyder Urman: 'Emily Owens, M.D' a prescription for CW success." Daily Variety 7 June 2012: 14. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
  • Walsten, Jessika. "Virgin an immaculate conception for EP: Urman's embrace of out-there story, complex characters helps fast-track series." Broadcasting & Cable 23 Mar. 2015: 26. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rosenberg, Alyssa. "TV's Slow Embrace to Diversity; At the Television Critics Association Press Tour, It's Clear That Executives and Showrunners Have Learned at Least Some of the Diversity Movement's Talking Points." The Washington Post Co. August 19, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2015.

External links[edit]