Meet the New Brains Behind 'The Walking Dead'

Angela Kang will take over as showrunner on the AMC drama starting with season nine.
Gene Page/AMC; Courtesy of subject

When The Walking Dead returns for season nine, the AMC zombie drama will open a new chapter in more ways than one.

After the conclusion of Rick's battle against Negan in the "All-Out War" arc, the series will turn the page and begin to rebuild civilization as a way to honor Carl's dying wish. Off-screen, showrunner Scott M. Gimple is handing over the reins to Angela Kang, one of his top lieutenants, as he begins a larger role as chief content officer in which he will oversee the entire franchise for AMC. (That helps fill the void that was created when Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman exited his overall deal with AMC and signed a new pact with Amazon Studios.)

Kang, like Gimple, started The Walking Dead during season two when she, like Gimple, was brought in to join the writing staff under former showrunner Frank Darabont. Darabont was famously fired by AMC and was replaced as showrunner by Glen Mazzara. Mazzara was let go at the end of season three and replaced by Gimple. Kang will now become the fourth showrunner on the series and will take over starting with season nine.

"[Kang brings] youthful vitality and energy. She has a great voice. We've definitely seen it shine through over various episodes over the seasons," Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman said. "Having it come to the forefront is very exciting. Andrew Lincoln and Lennie James can attest to her writing ability and the great things she's added to the show. Having her at the helm and moving into season nine with someone new steering the script, it's very exciting."

Kang has written more than 20 episodes of The Walking Dead. Her first, season two's "Secrets," featured Lori pondering an abortion and Andrea learning how to become a sharp-shooter. She followed that up with "Judge, Jury, Executioner," in which Dale died and the first seed of what would become the "Ricktatorship" was planted. Among the episodes Kang penned were season four's "Still," the Daryl and Beth stand-alone installment; and that season's finale, "A," which she co-wrote with Gimple. (That episode comes in second on THR's list of the best midseason or season finales in Walking Dead history.)

In season five, she wrote the midseason finale "Coda," in which Beth was shockingly killed off, as well as the penultimate episode of the season. Her season six hours included the "Thank You" episode in which Glenn (Steven Yeun) appeared to have been killed off only to survive by hiding under a dumpster in one of the show's most divisive moments ever.  That same season, she penned installments that introduced comic book favorite Jesus (Thom Payne) and "The Same Boat," a key hour for Carol (Melissa McBride). Among her numerous season seven episodes were co-writing the finale that ended Sasha's (Sonequa Martin-Green) journey.

Kang's fingerprints are all over the recently concluded eighth season, writing or co-writing multiple episodes including the finale.

"The newness of the narrative is driven by her vision," Gimple said of Kang and season nine. "She's putting different things forward that we haven't seen before. But she's also been working on the show since season two. She knows it inside and out. As I was working on [both Walking Dead series], more and more responsibility went to her. It's not like she's jumping into something and doesn't know what it is. She knows exactly where all the keys are. She's completely equipped to do an amazing job. We're seeing it happen in real time."

On a personal level, Kang was born and raised in Irvine, California, to Korean parents. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1998 before earning a master's of fine arts in screenwriting from USC. Her TV job was working as an intern on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and its first spinoff, Private Practice,  before being hired as a staff writer on NBC's post-apocalyptic pilot Day One, which did not move forward. She followed that up with a writing job on FX's critically praised (and canceled too soon) drama Terriers, where she was on a staff that included Shawn Ryan, Tim Minear and Leslye Headland, among others. She is repped by UTA and Literate's A.B. Fischer.

The Walking Dead season nine returns in October. A formal premiere date will be announced at San Diego Comic-Con.