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 Interview with Producer Ken Mok
You don’t have to be a White Male to be do a successful television show!
Part 1 of 3 pages



Ken Mok

Could you share a little about your personal background?
I am a first generation Chinese American and my parents were born in China.

How do you stay “centered” and driven professionally?
I always had a very strong focus on my career on my own since I was thirteen years old, as a result, I’ve been very self-motivated.

Who are your personal and business role models?
I didn’t have a lot of business or entertainment role models. I didn’t have any role models, per say. All I knew, however, was that from an early age that I wanted to work in television. I was always a big fan of television when I was a kid. I loved watching tv programs. I always wanted to be behind the camera making those shows. As a result, I had set out at a very early age to geared myself towards those goals.

How did a B.S./B.A. in business administration with a minor in journalism at Boston University prepared for your present career as a producer?
In the Chinese/Asian family, there is a great pressure on kids to go into a very professional arena such as business, getting your MBA, becoming a lawyer, becoming a doctor, etc. A lot of Asian kids have that pressure and I was not immune to that. The pressure from my parents and my peers was the following: I will get get a B.S./B.A. in business administration, I’ll get my MBA and become whatever.

After I got my B.S./B.A. and my first job at Norton Taylor as an assistant buyer to get some work experience before I got my MBA, I found out that I was was miserable and hated that profession. That experience confirmed what I already know - that I always wanted to be in media. At that time, I really took a big risk and took a chance. I said to myself "look if I’m not going to do it now, I’m never going to do it." Hence, I made the switch to television

At what age did you switch?
There were two switches. The first one was when I decided to get into the news business. So I quit my job at Lord Taylor and ended up working for CNN in Atlanta where I became a news producer. After doing this for two years, although I liked it, I wanted to move from field and concentrate on entertainment. I was getting a little burned out on news and I just didn’t see myself, way down the line, being a news producer. I had always wanted to do entertainment programming. So I left that job at CNN and I got a job as a wardrobe driver on the Cosby Show

What was your experience on the Cosby Show?

After being on the show for about a year, my entertainment mentor became Bill Cosby and he really helped get my entertainment career started.

Eventually, I ended writing a sitcom about an Asian American family and he was very happy with the project. We (Bill Cosby and myself) tried selling the program. Although the project wasn’t sold, I had such a good relationship with him that I asked him to help me to get into the “Associates Program” at NBC – which is a junior executive program. At that time, The Cosby Show was the #1 show on television and his recommendation helped me get into the network. So I got into NBC as a television executive and started overseeing their television shows.

What is your opinion on why a powerful Hollywood celebrity such as Bill Cosby couldn’t sell a program about an Asian American family?
At that time, it was the late 1980’s. Television is very slow to take changes and integrate minorities into its programming – even now it is still lacking a lot in terms of diversifying its cast and producers. Just imagine back in the late 80’s doing a sitcom about an Asian American family, that was very difficult to get through – even with Bill Cosby behind it. As a result, that didn’t happen.

What motivated you to become ABC’s Director of Comedy Series Development?
When I was at NBC, I was in the position as a “Card Executive” (which meant that I oversaw shows that were “on the air” – I was the network executive in charge of those shows.

However, I wanted to develop television shows and ABC had a job opening for an executive to develop comedy series, so I got that job.

What are your reflections of your tenure at ABC?
During my tenure as ABC's Director of Comedy Series Development, I was able to develop and bring Margaret Cho’s “All American Girl” to the airwaves.


Click HERE to continue
To discover Ken's views on other subjects, click on the topics listed below
    Part 1: Personal Background and Goals    
  Part 2: Entertainment Career - How a MBA became an Executive Producer
  Part 3: His viewpoints on the current "State of Diversity" within the entertainment industry
  Part 4: What are Ken's future plans and projects
  Part 5: Wenda Fong - Mini Profile of Fox V.P. of Specials and Alternative Programming
  Part 6: Latest May 2004 News Regarding Upcoming Projects
  Part 7: Henry Cho - Mini Profile of the prominent Korean American Comic from Tennessee
  Part 8: Dat Phan- Mini Profile on the upcoming winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing"

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