Writing LGBTQ+ Love & Romance on Television

Fill 1
April 30, 2019

About The Event

Writers Governors Regina Y. Hicks & Judalina Neira, along with the Writers Peer Group Executive Committee, invite you to a panel discussion and networking event.

Writing LGBTQ+ Love & Romance on TV

This panel will discuss the writers' experiences portraying LGBTQ+ love and romance on television, giving insight to our members on how to avoid stereotypes and pitfalls, and instructing them on how to tell organic, inclusive stories.

Panelists to include*:

  • Joanna Johnson, (Freeform's Good Trouble )
  • Ben Corey Jones, (BETs Boomerang )
  • Lauren Morelli, (Netflix's Tales of the City )
  • Ryan O'Connell, (Netflix's Special )
  • Our Lady J, (FX's Pose )
  • Marja-Lewis Ryan, (Showtime's The L Word )


  • Rob Forman, (iZombie, Army Wives)

Snacks & networking immediately following

Click here to register.
RSVP is required. Due to limited space, members only, please - no guests.

Only invited guests and Television Academy Members with valid membership cards. Seating is subject to availability; first come, first served. Admittance is not guaranteed.


Rob Forman's first memory is of Princess Leia in her iconic golden bikini, choking Jabba the Hutt to death. This explains everything about his love of strong female characters, escapism, and genre storytelling, but nothing about his sexuality. Rob moved to Los Angeles immediately upon graduating with a business degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a career in TV writing. After working as an agent's assistant, and then as a writer's assistant, on several series, Rob wrote a script for the sixth season of Lifetime's Army Wives and was promoted to Staff Writer for the following, final season. After Army Wives, Rob wrote on CW's iZombie and developed original pitches, selling IRL to Freeform and Thirst to BET, while also co-writing Indivisible, an indie action/RPG video game from Lab Zero Games and 505 Games, slated for release on PS4, Switch, and XB1 in 2019.


Joanna Johnson is the creator and executive producer of Freeform’s critically acclaimed series Good Trouble. She previously was an executive producer on Freeform’s groundbreaking series The Fosters, which ran for five seasons. She attended USC Film School and, after graduating, pursued an acting career. Most notably, she played twins Caroline and Karen Spencer on the CBS soap opera The Bold & the Beautiful, where she still occasionally reprises her role as Karen (the not so evil twin). Johnson’s primary focus is on writing. She wrote the independent feature The Shrink Is In, starring Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and went on to write her first television sitcom pilot called Hope & Faith for ABC, which ran for three seasons. She has since continued to write and co-executive produce ABC Family’s Make It or Break It, Fairly Legal for USA Cable and the CW’s Emily Owens, M.D.


After graduating from Morehouse College with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Finance, Ben Corey Jones worked on Wall Street as a speech writer and communications executive for a major investment bank. But after the 2007-08 Mortgage Crisis, he walked away from corporate America and discovered his passion for screenwriting and producing. In 2013, Jones participated in the prestigious ABC Television Writing Program and was a staff writer on ABC Family's Chasing Life and Amazon's Hand of God. He produced a comedy pilot, Bros, about three African American brothers (two straight, one gay) trying to find love in modern-day LA, which is in development at a major network. Jones also produced the feature film, Step Sisters, wrote for WGN's Underground, and created and wrote the drama series, Candy which is in development at Universal Cable Productions. He has been a writer and producer on HBO's Insecure since its first season and is the showrunner and executive producer of the upcoming BET comedy series, Boomerang.


Ryan O'Connell is an actor, writer, and producer who will next be seen starring in Special, an eight-episode short-form Netflix series that releases on April 12. The series, which he wrote and executive produced along with Jim Parsons, is loosely based on O'Connell's own upbringing and experience as a gay man with cerebral palsy navigating the world. O'Connell recently served as an executive story editor on NBC's revival of Will & Grace and was on the writing staff of MTV's Awkward. He is the author of I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, a part-memoir, part-manifesto which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2015 to critical acclaim. He served as the editor of Thought Catalog and has contributed to Vice, BuzzFeed, and numerous other publications.


After a career of performing music with pop icons like Sia and organizations including New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, the American Ballet Theatre and the Mark Morris Dance Group, Our Lady J began writing and producing on the GLAAD Media Award-, Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning Amazon series Transparent. She is currently a writer and producer on FX's Pose, which has the largest cast of transgender actors in television history. Our Lady J holds the honor of being the first out trans woman to perform at Carnegie Hall, as well as the first out trans writer to be nominated for a Writers Guild Award. She has been featured on Out Magazine's "Out 100" and The Huffington Post's list of "Transgender Icons."


Marja-Lewis Ryan (Writer/Director/Producer) was housebroken in Brooklyn, NY. Her seventh grade aptitude test determined she was most qualified to be a coin machine repairman, a bowling pin mechanic, or a wig stylist. She eked out an honors degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied with The Atlantic Theater Company. On stage, she wrote and directed the 2014 LA Drama Critic's Circle Award-winning play, One In The Chamber. She also directed the LA premiere and subsequent Off-Broadway production of David Mamet’s The Anarchist. In film, she wrote and directed the Netflix feature, 6 Balloons, and in TV, she is the new showrunner of The L Word for Showtime.



Lauren Morelli is a television writer, screenwriter and producer. Next up she is Executive Producing and writing a reboot of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City for Netflix, starring Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis and Ellen Page, which will be released in June. Previously, Lauren had the honor of working on 5 seasons of Orange Is The New Black, which received 17 Emmy nominations, six Golden Globe nominations and six Writers Guild nominations. In her spare time, Lauren also writes short stories and personal essays that you can find in various corners of the Internet. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2007, Lauren received a BFA in Modern Dance from Marymount Manhattan College.

Produced By

This event is presented and hosted
by the Television Academy.

Fill 1
April 30, 2019
Fill 1
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PDT



Governors Room
at Saban Media Center
Television Academy
5210 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Google Maps

Complimentary self parking in the structure adjacent to the Saban Media Center.

Cars arriving before 6:00pm will be charged $15. Click here for other parking options.

Browser Requirements
The TelevisionAcademy.com sites look and perform best when using a modern browser.

We suggest you use the latest version of any of these browsers:


Visiting the site with Internet Explorer or other browsers may not provide the best viewing experience.

Close Window