Know Who You Are

Anne Cofell Saunders–a television writer, executive producer, and mom of two daughters–tells her story of growing up in a small town in South Dakota to becoming an award-winning and respected television writer and producer in Hollywood. Mother’s Day episode one of four.

What’s inside: 

Star Trek: Discovery 

Discovery Writers

The Boys 

  • 2:15 : What’s a typical day in your life like now?
  • 2:55: What’s your “new normal” as a working mom?
  • 4:00 : What are some of the rewards of this time?
  • 4:43 : How is this time going to change things for TV in the future?
  • 5:30 : What was your previous routine as a writer and executive producer?
  • 12:41 : Are you considered a freelancer?
  • 13:58 : As a leader, do a lot of decisions land on you?
  • 14:54 : How is your lifestyle different from how you grew up?
  • 20:28 : Did you know in graduate school that you would pursue television writing?
  • 24:20 : Can you detect a writer’s personality when you meet other artists?
  • 31:58 : Are you part of the training process for writers to understand room etiquette? 
  • 33:02: What is it like being a woman in a leadership position in Hollywood?
  • 53:25 : Do you think you’ve “made it?”
  • 58:00: What advice do you have for students who may be considering a career in the arts during these crazy times?
  • 1:04:16 How are you managing working at home with your spouse? 
  • 1:04:38 How can listeners follow and connect with you?


Key Quotes:

  • “TV production is very fast-paced and, inevitably, your day is never what you expect it to be.” 
  • “I really enjoy change and spontaneity and diversity in my work. I wilt under repetition.” 
  • “You can be on a show with really easy hours, but I’ve been on a lot of high-intensity high-budget shows, which require long hours.”
  • “I can be gone for a three-week chunk and shooting for 12-hour days.”
  • “[When shooting] I don’t control my time. People tell me where to go…they make sure I get to where I need to go.”
  • “The longer you’re in the business the more control you usually have.” 
  • “There’s a hard downside of being away for three weeks; you miss a lot of important things.”
  • “I try to draw my kids into it as much as possible.”
  • “I have control of the jobs that I take, but when you step into a show you don’t know what that’s going to require.”
  • “The first-season shows are like a start-up company; everyone is working hard and has their own job. There’s not a lot of inherent structure–you step in and do a lot of making it your own.” 
  • “There’s always places to go–there’s always lots to learn every time.”
  • “There’s tons of work in television.”
  • “I didn’t even know I wanted to be in TV…I didn’t know my job existed.” 
  • “I grew up with a sort of hope and plan that I would get out of my small town.” 
  • “I wanted to be a writer…I published my own little poetry book when I was in 7th grade.” 
  • “I taught English in Japan and backpacked across the country.”
  • “I take risks everyday.” 
  • “In the writer’s room, there’s a lot of improv.” 
  • “The writer’s room is a very ‘yes-and’ place. There are no bad or stupid ideas.” 
  • “A movie ends, but TV–theoretically–never ends.”
  • “I love being creative all day.” 
  • “I spend a lot of my time trying to channel incredibly intense emotionality and aiming for really hard story targets.”
  • “LA is very expensive… I’ve couch-surfed before, I had no safety net.” 
  • “An essential quality to have to be successful in Hollywood is to be able to live with risk.” 
  • “I think parents need to be wary of giving advice on things they don’t have direct experience with.” 
  • “If your child has a drive to be an artist, throw everything in your power to support them.” 
  • “Being a generalist gets you nothing.”
  • “Who you are is unique and special, and as an artist you’re unique and special.” 
  • “If you feel a calling in your soul to be an artist–or whatever it is–you throw yourself in whole-heartedly, you get your 10,000 hours in, you practice, and that makes you special and unique.” 
  • “TV-writing pays an obscene amount of money.”
  • “Temperament, talent, and force-of-will/persistence are key elements.” 
  • “Take risks as much as possible, be courageous, and don’t be afraid to fail.” 
  • “Make sure what you’re doing as a living is something you can stand to do every day of your life.” 
  • “I don’t mind failing at writing, because it’s learning.” 
  • “I have one thing to say to anyone who wants to follow an artistic career of any kind–it is the truest thing I have found so far in my career–never let anyone tell you who you are.”
  • “Don’t let anybody make you feel small or ‘less-than.’”
  • “Now that I’ve gotten older, I’m grateful for feedback and I’m better at hearing feedback than I used to be.” 


Support the DYBP Podcast! 

…on Instagram! …on Facebook! …and Twitter! 

Let your voice be heard: 

  • Share your story on social media–use #DYBPcast !
  • Ask questions, make comments, express yourself freely. Email Jen, 213-915-6883 text or call


DYBP graphic design  © 2020 by Laura Gernon

DYBP theme song, “Ditch” © 2020 by Dean Keith

%d bloggers like this: