Jared Palecki as Cordell Walker with Karissa Lee Staples as Twyla Jean
In her 20 years in television, Anna Fricke wouldn't have guessed her first chance to be a solo creator and showrunner would call for her to reimagine Walker, Texas Ranger, the Chuck Norris show that ran from 1993 to 2001.
But there she was in 2019, talking with CBS Studios and star–executive producer Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), asking herself if Walker would be her next step.
Fresh out of college, Fricke got her start with four years on Dawson's Creek, rising from P.A. to writer's assistant to script coordinator and, finally, staff writer.
After the show ended in 2003, she continued her ascent, becoming a producer on Everwood and Men in Trees and overseeing shows like Wayward Pines and Valor. She also cocreated the U.S. adaptation of Being Human with her husband, former Supernatural showrunner Jeremy Carver.
She enjoyed collaborating on others' visions but never had a chance to present her own — until she agreed to work on The CW's Walker. That took some adjustment at first. "It's a different thing to be in the creator seat and realize, 'Oh, this is mine,'" she says. "It's my point of view. I can say what's important."
And what does she value? "I pride myself on being a character writer first and foremost," Fricke says. She created a version of Cordell Walker who isn't just a Texas Ranger with a firm moral compass, but also a son, a brother and a widower who's learning to be a single dad.
"I think so much about being a working mother and a wife. I wanted to explore a man who suddenly has to be everything and isn't used to that." Fricke calls the result a multigenerational family soap, almost a nostalgic callback to her previous work. "So much of where I came from — Dawson's Creek, Everwood — is in there."
Beyond character, it was also important to her, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, to create a police procedural that addresses the real world. "It's a lot of responsibility creating a show in such a fraught time," she says. "We wanted to have conversations about difficult subjects."
Walker does that, in part, through Walker's partner, Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan, The 100) and the challenges she faces as a Latinx minority in Texas law enforcement. Also, Coby Bell (Burn Notice) plays Walker's African-American boss, who's intent on bringing progress to his department.
Fricke says she isn't looking to promote a particular agenda.
"The goal is that people from all points of view could watch the show," she says. "I hope that we bring in viewers who might not otherwise be drawn to the title. I think there is something here for everybody."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 6, 2021