Monica Owusu-Breen has been tapped as the writer, executive producer and showrunner for the reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Owusu-Breen will work alongside the original series producer, Joss Whedon, who will act as executive producer.
The original ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ series was based on the 1992 film which starred Kristy Swanson as Buffy. The television show ran from 1996-2003 and featured Michelle Gellar, though the reboot of the hit show is set to feature a black actress as the lead.
Owusu-Breen has worked on several hit shows, and used to keep ‘Owusu’ out of her name when applying for writing positions. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Her Name Is Tied to Dozens of Famous Television Shows, From ‘Alias’ to ‘Lost’
Owusu-Breen’s Hollywood resume is impeccable, having served as a producer on shows like ‘Lost’, ‘Alias’, ‘Charmed’, ‘Brothers and Sisters’, and most recently ‘Midnight, Texas’.
In an interview while working as a producer for ‘Brothers and Sisters’, Owusu-Breen said of the staying power of family dramas on television, “I think everyone spends a lifetime negotiating those relationships with your siblings and your parents and your children.”
Of her experience creating ‘Midnight, Texas’, she said, “I had a strangely personal connection to them because part of the reason I was itching to develop something was I had had two deaths in my family – my mother and my mother in law – within a month of each other, and I was trying to get my mind off of that. My mother in law was a small town psychic, and my mother had moved to this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. When I read the first couple of chapters, I was like, “this is good a sign as any” and embarked on this crazy adventure.”
Owusu-Breen has yet to comment on her endeavor in recreating what has been widely accepted to be one of the best television shows of all time.
2. She’s Half Spanish, Half Ghanaian
In a conversation with NBC News about her show, ‘Midnight, Texas’, Owusu-Breen spoke about how the show’s theme of outsiders coming together struck a chord for her, personally.
“I’ve never walked into a room and felt completely like I fit in,” she said to NBC News. “There’s not very many half-Spanish, half Ghanaian women in the world, so I get this idea of feeling different and finding your tribe, finding the people who, whether or not you’re exactly the same, you get one another.”
She continued of her relationship with the rest of the set, “We all got that – feeling that you don’t fit in the regular world. We’re sitting there in Albuquerque [where the show was filmed] all of us, and we all felt that we’re the ‘midnighters’ in the middle of a world that feels different.”
3. She Was Born in Spain But Moved to Brooklyn When She Was Eight
According to NBC, Owusu-Breen was born in England, lived in Spain for the beginning of her childhood, then moved to Brooklyn when she was eight years old.
Of learning to speak English as her second language, “I was a kid who would watch television constantly — in fact, I learned how to speak English watching television, whether it was Fred Flintstone or Lucy or the Brady Bunch.”
Of the lack of diversity in television growing up, Owusu-Breen said, “Yes, I wanted to see myself reflected, but if I didn’t it wasn’t as if I didn’t understand the characters. [Things have changed in] how I’ve felt as an African-American woman in this industry from when I started until now…partially it’s because of politics and partially because there is so much media out there.”
4. She Fell Into Screenwriting Accidentally While Working Towards a Doctorate in Television & Media Studies
After graduating from Brown University, Owusu-Breen went on to a PhD program at the University of California San Diego, for a degree in television and media studies. When a friend asked her to write some scripts, they eventually became partners (they no longer are) and got their first staff job soon after, on the television show ‘Charmed’.
“When we first started, I chose to take out Owusu from my middle name, just so no one made assumptions about anything,” she said. “Now you know my writing, and you’re not going to not give me a job if I use Owusu.”
5. Owusu-Breen Is Currently Working on Another Television Show, the NBC Supernatural Drama ‘Midnight, Texas’
Owusu-Breen is currently the showrunner for ‘Midnight, Texas’ a book-to-TV adaption about a young psychic who seeks refuge in the town of Midnight and finds a community that includes a witch, a fallen angel, a demon, a vampire and a shapeshifter.
NBC notably used colorblind casting to fill the roles for the show, excluding one character who had to be white to fit his family background of white supremacy. Owusu-Breen live tweets during each show, along with anyone from the show who’s currently in Los Angeles.
Of the love she’s experienced via Twitter (there’s even been a hashtag created, #TexasTea), Owusu-Breen said, “The show itself kind of became the truth of the whole production. There was a kindness at the center of it. We watch the show and we talk to fans. Then they found each other. It feels like this spirit is kind of contagious.”