Author: Oli Holl
Carolyn Strauss is an American television executive, writer, and producer. She is best known for her work at HBO, where she began her career as a temp and worked her way up to the position of President of the Entertainment Division before stepping down to focus on her career as a producer, signing a production deal with the network.
She has been credited by many with helping to create the distinct brand that is currently associated with HBO, having signed and developed many of their most well-known programs, including Sex and The City and The Sopranos, as well as Game of Thrones, of course!
Queen of the North(east)
Strauss was born July 13, 1963 in Scarsdale, New York. She attended Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she earned a Bachelor of the Arts in History. She returned to New York in 1986 with no intention of working in television before being hired as a temp for the documentaries department at HBO. Within 10 months she had secured a full-time job there, assisting the head of original programming and beginning what would become a twenty-one-year career at the network (and counting!).
In 1990 Strauss moved from New York to California when she was promoted to the position of director of original programming, and she continues to live there with her family, including a dog named Harry. She eventually went on to become the president of HBO’s Entertainment Division, a position she held for ten months until her resignation in 2008 to focus on her production career.
From Six Feet to Seven Seasons
Strauss is credited by the creator of Six Feet Under, Alex Ball, as the source for the original pitch for the show. In an interview, Ball said:
“It was a great premise, and again, I can’t take credit for it; it was pitched to me by Carolyn Strauss. She said she wanted to do a show about a family-run funeral home.”
Strauss is credited with being the first executive to approve the television adaptation of Game of Thrones. As of season 7, she has been the executive producer on 57 episodes of the show and co-executive producer for an additional four. She has been nominated for 17 awards for her work on Game of Thrones, winning four of them including two Primetime Emmys, a PGA, and a Golden Nymph award.
LGBT & Other Activism
Strauss is an outspoken queer woman and a prominent figure in the LGBT community, credited with bringing many queer-friendly shows to mainstream media in her time commissioning shows for HBO. She has also been praised for her contribution to works that feature adults with intellectual disabilities, working as the executive producer on the award-winning television adaptation of The Specials, as well as earning her first writing credit for Love You More. Both projects offer unique and inclusive insight into independent living facilities and the lives of the adults who rely on them, with ‘The Specials’ being used in a Disability Studies course at the City University of New York.