Katori Hall, Rafael Casal, and Randy Huggins are the showrunners behind some of the biggest hit shows on STARZ. While those creative leaders might not be household names, seeing them together on one list is notable—they’re all from groups that are historically underrepresented in Hollywood.
STARZ Senior Vice President of Employment Counsel Eileen Cahill started her career in private practice and joined the premium streaming network in 2018 for the chance to work at a cutting-edge entertainment company that shares her values. “STARZ stands out from other entertainment companies because it is committed to building an inclusive workforce and promoting stories by, about, and for women and underrepresented audiences,” she says.
The mission resonated with Cahill, who grew up in the Bay Area and studied law at UCLA. She gravitated to employment law and developed expertise in creating the policies and programs that protect companies and directly impact employees. Cahill finds the work fulfilling because she can see immediate results.
“The policies we create and enforce are meant to help, and every decision we make affects someone on a personal level. That motivates me to do my very best,” she explains. Cahill, who went in-house after her own children were born, says she wants to design policies that will support other women in their own professional development.
That’s why STARZ is such a good fit for someone like Cahill. Although the company has always worked to promote diversity and inclusion, its leaders launched the #TakeTheLead initiative in 2021 to formalize and strengthen the network’s existing commitment to inclusive storytelling. STARZ is partnering with organizations like the Alliance of Women Directors, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, and Diverse Representation to create a pipeline of diverse talent and encourage change across a predominantly white and male industry.
The name #TakeTheLead is one STARZ has earned by demonstrating its commitment. Seventy-five percent of those on the company’s executive leadership team are women, and 50 percent are people of color. In addition, 63.2 percent of series leads on STARZ original series are people of color, while 57.9 percent are women. STARZ outpaces industry averages in multiple categories, including the number of minority and female showrunners, executive producers, writers, and directors.
While #TakeTheLead represents the biggest way those at Starz can make a difference in diversity and inclusion, Cahill says she tries to mentor other women through both a formal program and in personal relationships. “I want to do my part to help Starz push diverse content because it enhances the overall social climate,” she says. “I want my kids to see this, and maybe when my daughter is an adult, equity and representation won’t have to be a fight.”
Cahill is responsible for all compliance and employment law functions at STARZ. She also advises production teams regarding antidiscrimination matters, internal investigations, and other employment issues. For the last two years, she’s been instrumental in helping STARZ get its shows back into production after the COVID-19 pandemic brought Hollywood to a standstill.
Like other networks, STARZ halted all production in March 2020. As the industry reacted, Cahill and her small internal team worked to review all contracts and union obligations.
Two things soon became clear—the pandemic required more than “fourteen days to stop the spread,” and fans were hungry for new content. STARZ wanted to bring production back as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety. Cahill hired infectious disease and safety experts to create new protocols, like sterilization standards and testing zones. Craft services and catering replaced family-style meals with single-serve packaging. Rolling meal periods facilitated social distancing.
Cahill and her team worked overtime to vet all protocols with unions and balance the new costs as COVID measures increased production budgets. Soon, the popular series Power Book II: Ghost, which only had two episodes left to shoot when COVID-19 hit, was one of the first shows back in production.
In some ways, employment and entertainment law in Hollywood still feels like the Wild West as new issues appear and evolve every day. Ongoing COVID protocols, collective bargaining issues, emerging safety concerns, and shifting state regulations keep Cahill’s work interesting as she works to support STARZ employees and help the company in its commitment to women and underrepresented audiences.