'Fresh Off the Boat' Showrunner Nahnatchka Khan Talks Being the "Only Woman In the Room"

"I felt like people looked at me for the wife joke or the daughter joke."

"Working in network sitcom arenas, whenever you decide to depart from the norm and tell a story that’s not typical, I think you’re always a little bit nervous," Fresh Off the Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Kahn told The Hollywood Reporter during the Comedy Showrunner Roundtable.

"You only have 22 minutes — not even, like 21:30 — to tell a story, so you want to do the material justice and the area justice but you also want to make it funny, you always want to not be preachy. … So you start to get nervous about that, but it’s an excited nervous."

She says the nerves don't come from the pressure from networks, but mostly from wanting to do a story justice within a medium that mandates set parameters. "I have this opportunity, I want to tell this story, I want to make sure I get it exactly right," she said.

For a time in Kahn's career, before running one of the top-rated scripted network comedies, she felt pigeon-holed in her career. "I was the only woman in the room a lot of times, so I felt like people looked at me for the wife joke or the daughter joke," she said. "For me it was just the female voice."

More roundtables featuring comedy and drama actors and actresses, drama showrunners, and reality hosts and producers will roll out throughout June in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter starting June 26 on Sundance TV, with the premiere of the "Comedy Showrunners Roundtable" on Sunday, July 31. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.

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