Gloria Calderón Kellett (@gloriakellet) is a force to be reckoned with in the world of sitcoms. You may have seen her as a network executive in Jane the Virgin, and more importantly, she’s served as producer for shows like How I Met Your Mother and Devious Maids, was the fearless leader of the beloved One Day at a Time reboot and served as showrunner, writer, director and, sometimes, actor. As part of her overall deal with Amazon Studios, Calderón Kellett’s next project to hit TV will be the holiday rom-com series With Love, premiering Dec. 17 on Prime Video. Ahead of its release, she sat down with Modern Luxury to discuss the series, her career and her outlook on the industry.
With Loveis a holiday romantic comedy. What are some of your favorite holiday rom-coms? Oh, my goodness, I love When Harry Met Sally. It’s my favorite rom-com of all time. … Obviously It’s a Wonderful Life, which I still think is a rom-com between Mary and George. Those are the two faves. And add Elf. I love that one.
When the series was first announced, you said, “After such a heavy year, there was nothing I wanted more than to see a happy, warm, loving family that looked like mine, celebrating trauma-free and falling in love.” The Diaz’s story ultimately centers on joy. Why is that significant for television? I think, especially the last few years, not necessarily on our television screens, but certainly on our phone screens, there has just been so much trauma of Black and brown bodies in particular. We’ve just seen ICE with photos and videos of horrible things happening to Black and brown people. And I think that we just need a salve. We just need something to remind us that our bodies are also for joy and love. Maya Angelou has this great quote [that] it’s revolutionary to share joy. It’s radical to show people in joy, and so I want to be radical in that way. I want to be revolutionary in showing that we can also experience love and joy and kindness and family and all of these things that we really still, even in 2021, rarely get to see represented.
From Tia Glo tweeting sessions to inviting your writing staff to sit in on your meetings to see what it’s like to be a showrunner, uplifting those around you seems to be an inherent part of your routine. Why is this something you’ve incorporated into your life? Is it essential for a more abundant, inclusive industry? I want other people to do it too. I do it because I know the value of it. People that were kind to me or took any extra time with me on my journey lightens my load and made it easier for me to see a future where I could be a showrunner. So I know how it feels when people are kind or when people read a script of yours or when people give you advice. Initially, I loved going to coffee with new writers to answer questions. I don’t have time to do that anymore, which is one of the reasons I did the Hollywood 101 YouTube series with Pero Like. I wanted to just have something available to people that is several hours of me talking about the industry and what I know and, basically, if you watch those YouTube videos, that’s like going to coffee. Those are the basics. And then what I realized was people might have follow-up questions, so the Tia Glo sessions on Twitter are about that. Now that you’ve seen those, how can I help you with outline or with antagonist or with character?
Considering the ebbs and flows of the television landscape in the last 15 years, do you feel optimistic about the state and future of Latinx storytelling on screen? What keeps you hopeful? To be honest with you, there are moments where I’m like, ‘Oh, they get it, they’re excited about us.’ And then... the fall season comes and there’s no shows. I’m still not seeing a lot. I’m seeing more enthusiasm, which is wonderful. I’m seeing a lot more articles in Deadline and Variety and The Hollywood Reporter saying that we’re making sales. I’m not quite seeing it on the screen yet. So, I would love to see an abundance actually on screen. That’s where it would be really, really thrilling. And so when that is happening, I think I’ll be thrilled. So I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m hoping that it’s not just a moment, and it’s not just a buzzword and that people really, really are trying to make these things happen all the way to then appearing on the screen.
Photography by: LUZ GALLARDO/COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS