After Writing for The Office, He Took a Job at Macy's

Anthony Q. Farrell says he's working to improve diversity in TV writers rooms
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2022 3:50 PM CDT
After Writing for The Office , He Took a Job at Macy's
This image provided by NBC Universal shows a scene from NBC's "The Office," showing Steve Carell, front, as Michael Scott.   (AP Photo/NBC, Justin Lubin)

Anthony Q. Farrell's first TV writing job was a big one. He worked as a staff writer and story editor on The Office from 2008 to 2009 until he was laid off amid the recession. It was two years before he found another job in his field, but Farrell doesn't believe that had anything to do with the economy. Rather, he says it was certainly related to the fact that he's Black. He'd been hired on The Office through NBC's diversity program, which meant the studio would cover his staff writer salary for three years, with the show covering additional pay, say, in the case of a promotion, according to an as-told-to essay at Business Insider. "For the most part, all the shows had to do was hire us," Farrell says.

But after leaving The Office, Farrell found shows weren't hiring in the diversity slot. "The studio was basically saying, 'Here is a free person who is skilled, talented, and ready to write for you.' For the shows to respond, 'No, we're cool,' really blew my mind," he says. "I remember thinking, 'What are they afraid to say in front of a person of color at work, that they want to be able to say freely without them there? So much so that they'd take an opportunity away from someone?'" A father with a mortgage to pay, he ended up working as a tutor, then took a job at Macy's. "I'd be folding shirts and thinking: Did being a writer on The Office even really happen? Is this going to be the rest of my life?"

He says helping a friend with a pilot for Nickelodeon eventually led to a writing job on The Thundermans—which paid $3,000 per week, the same as The Office—and "I've been working ever since" that 2013 gig. Indeed, his career has been "thriving," per the Toronto Star, which noted in January that Farrell, the showrunner and executive producer on CBC comedy Run the Burbs, was named 2021 Showrunner of the Year by Playback magazine. He tells Insider that staying "as creative as possible" worked in the end. It also put him in a position to help others. "I'm mentoring [other writers], but I'm hopefully mentoring mentors … more writers of color who are in positions of power [who] can make the change quicker," he told the Star. (More diversity stories.)

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