3. Carolyn Strauss — President, HBO Entertainment
Unlike many Hollywood executives, Carolyn Strauss hasn’t moved from one production shingle to another. She started out as a temp in HBO’s documentary department in 1986 after earning her B.A. from Harvard, and since then has moved steadily up the corporate ladder to become their President of Entertainment. In her tenure at HBO, she has supervised the development and production of such acclaimed series as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Oz and others â€” many of which are particularly queer-friendly.
Currently, Strauss is overseeing the development of True Blood, a new project from Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) based on Charlaine Harris’ novels; a series about a family of surfers from David Milch, the creator of Deadwood; a pilot from Linda Bloodworth-Thomas about a Dallas matriarchy; and a series about intimacy between couples called Tell Me You Love Me.
Might she have any advice for aspiring lesbian television execs? "On every step of the corporate ladder here, you could just put a little stiletto heel print next to it," Strauss told Broadcasting and Cable in 1995, "and I’ve done it. Well, make that a sneaker. I don’t wear stilettos."