Hollywood’s Hottest TV Exec Sue Naegle Responsible For The Rise Of Women In TV


If you are a die-hard ‘Game of Thrones’ fan, then you have one woman to thank for it’s TV popularity: Sue Naegle. She is the former President of Entertainment at HBO (she left in September 2013), and she was the very person who gave the green light to the show, based on the popular books by George R. R. Martin.

Also, every feminist fan of ‘Girls’ should be thanking Sue, because after fan-girling over Lena Dunham after watching her in an indie flick, she knew getting this show on the air would be monumental for women.

At 44 years old, Sue is quite an anomaly in the boys club that is Hollywood, especially in such an executive role. She has been listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women, and it is certainly well-deserved. We just gotta say, this is the type of woman mainstream media should be talking about more, and highlighting as a positive role model for young women, as opposed to ingenue celebs who couldn’t give a lick about their influence on others.

Sue started her illustrious career in the mail room of huge Hollywood talent agency UTA at the age of 23 after studying literature at Indiana University. She slowly rose through the ranks at UTA, becoming an agent, then eventually a partner in the company. After moving across to TV network HBO, she became responsible for green-lighting some of pop culture’s biggest television series such as ‘True Blood’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’, ‘Veep’, ‘Girls’, and of course ‘GOT’.


So what makes her so great? She is actively leading the way for women in TV, making conscious decisions within her power to ensure women are represented better both on-screen and behind the scenes.

She told online fashion tome net-a-porter why using her influence to help women is important to her, given the insight she has as a television executive.

“It’s nice to imagine that your influence can be used for good,” she says.

Net-a-porter’s Lucy Broadbent describes her like this:

“Naegle is credited with almost single-handedly transforming the global television landscape over the past five years, nurturing new writers and directors, overseeing new shows and overhauling HBO’s ratings. Her Midas touch is so legendary, her name is like a mantra at the Emmys and Golden Globes, it is repeated so often.”

Sue explains that greater roles for women in TV means a greater respect for authenticity.

“I’m very sensitive in development about how race and women are portrayed. There are still a lot of women as secondary roles and undefined characters. And on a billboard you’ll still see an ensemble of people, with the black person in the corner. It feels artificial. High-concept, great TV needs to have authenticity to it.”


Naegle, who is mother to three girls is no doubt wanting to do her part to ensure her daughters grow up viewing women in the world vastly different to her own upbringing, socially. Now that she has started her own company, part of her conscious decision-making is employing only women, to date.

That in itself is another anomaly in Hollywood, and will hopefully encourage more women that there is room for them in Hollywood, and not to be afraid to bust down those doors.

Sue is well aware that young women are watching her, and she wants to send the right message: that women are capable of anything, no excuses.

“It’s hard. But I love my job. Younger women say to me, ‘I want to have a baby, but I’m really invested in my job, what am I supposed to do?’ I say, ‘It all fits’. It’s like an endless salad: the more you throw in, the more it fits.”

If there has ever been a more desperate need for women in TV and women in Hollywood, it is now. We hope women like Sue Naegle will encourage you all that there are opportunities out there, you have to be bold enough to take them, and be unapologetic about what you want to achieve. Nothing will stand in your way unless you allow it.



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