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Named one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television” by The Hollywood Reporter, Keli Lee is a transformational and innovative leader with a successful track record of building growth businesses, by leveraging her dual expertise in business and creative and through her passion and vision for investing in diversity and inclusion. Keli Lee’s experience makes her uniquely qualified to lead media businesses to new and sustained growth. During her 20 year career in media and entertainment, Keli Lee was responsible for redefining network television with her strategic casting and trailblazing programs, discovering and mentoring the future stars of tomorrow: writers, directors, and actors, which she launched in her role as Executive Vice President and Head of Talent and Casting for ABC Network and ABC Studios. And three years ago, she created, built and managed the operations of The Walt Disney Company’s first international TV studio from the ground up.
After identifying an international growth opportunity for ABC Studios outside its domestic business and developing the strategic vision and organizational structure, Keli Lee was appointed to the newly created role of Managing Director at ABC Studios International/The Walt Disney Company. Under Keli’s management, ABC Studios International has achieved the following milestones:
•Developed a robust portfolio of owned original content globally, resulting in three original scripted series produced, two new series commissioned for production in 2020, and 33 projects in development worldwide. Its first series, “Harrow,” is a co-production with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This commercially successful and critically acclaimed series has been commissioned for three seasons to date and was nominated for a 2018 Logie Award for Most Outstanding Drama Series. “Harrow” is distributed on Hulu in the US and sold in key territories around the world;
• Built strong relationships with established and emerging international talent, creators, producers, production companies, international networks and streaming platforms;
• Financed its productions efficiently by securing substantial international tax incentives from federal and state governments and by strategic international pre-sales.
Prior to ABC Studios International, Keli Lee was Executive Vice President and Head of Talent and Casting at ABC Entertainment Group. In this capacity, Keli Lee managed all talent and casting operations and teams across all ABC Television Network series and ABC Studios content produced for Hulu, Freeform and third party television networks and digital content platforms worldwide for more than a decade. Twenty years ago, Keli became an industry leading pioneer in identifying and securing talent, developing strategies, constructing and negotiating deals, and launching institutional programs that underscored her passion and commitment to creating opportunities for diverse and international talent, delivering long-term business value, and focusing on the ever changing media landscape to deliver content that built a deeper, more meaningful connection with its audiences.
In this role, Keli was responsible for casting iconic and award-winning TV series with diverse and international talent that drove global business value such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family,” “Scandal,”“How to Get Away with Murder,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “American Crime”, “Alias” and “Quantico.” In addition, under Keli’s leadership, ABC Entertainment Group received a total of 224 Emmy® Award and
Golden Globe® Award nominations in the Outstanding Acting Categories, including Kerry Washington, Constance Wu, Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria; and 35 Emmy and Golden Globe Awards, including Viola Davis’ historic Emmy Award in 2015 as the first African-American actress to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.
In 2001, Keli created and launched the industry’s first of its kind talent programs to better reflect global audiences. The now 18 year- old ABC Discovers is a suite of global, inclusive creative talent recruiting and training programs which discovered, mentored and trained over 500 writers, directors and actors including Academy Award®-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o of “12 Years a Slave” and “Black Panther”, Golden Globe-winner Gina Rodriguez of “Jane The Virgin,” Chadwick Boseman of “Marvel’s Black Panther,” Meghan Markle of “Suits,” Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Pedro Pascal of “Game of Thrones” and “The Mandalorian”, Randall Park of “Fresh Off the Boat,” among others. This program continues to this day.
In addition, Keli strategically recruited international talent to ABC Entertainment Group, bringing stars such as Priyanka Chopra (India), Sofia Vergara (Colombia) and Yunjin Kim (South Korea) to the network, leading to greater commercial appeal globally for ABC Entertainment Group properties.
Keli Lee was named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television” in both 2017 and 2018 and one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business 1000” in 2015. She serves as a board member of NATPE and Step Up Women’s Network, which honored her in 2012 with its Inspiration Award. She is also a former mentor to the Korean government’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and is a member of the Council of Urban Professionals, for which she received their CUP Catalyst Award in 2014.
Keli is a member of the 2014 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at The Aspen Institute. In addition, she is a sought-after voice on topics of diversity, international production trends and innovation in the entertainment industry and has been featured in a range of media outlets including Forbes, Fast Company, Elle, and Cosmopolitan. Keli also has been an expert speaker at leading industry events including Fortune Women’s Conference, MIPCOM, Edinburgh TV Festival and NATPE.
Keli Lee earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from New York University.