Keli Lee has been named Managing Director, International Content, Platforms and Talent for ABC Studios International. Based in London, Ms. Lee leads the international division of ABC Studios, creating new opportunities for international co-productions, local original content, program formats and talent around the world. In Ms. Lee’s former role as Executive Vice President, Talent and Casting at ABC Entertainment Group (ABCEG): ABC Network and ABC Studios, a position she held for more than a decade, she oversaw all talent and casting for ABC Television Network and ABC Studios, including multiple award-winning series such as Modern Family, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, 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, and Quantico.
Under Ms. Lee’s decade of leadership, ABC received a total of 30 Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Acting Categories including Viola Davis’s historical Emmy Award in 2015 as the first African American actress to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama and Regina King for Best Supporting Actress, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell, and 159 Emmy Award nominations for actors including Kerry Washington, Sofia Vergara, and Timothy Hutton. During Ms. Lee’s tenure, ABC also received 60 Golden Globe Nominations and five Golden Globe Awards in the acting categories.
Ms. Lee spearheaded ABCEG’s efforts to bring greater inclusiveness to the screen, a strategy that has led to domestic ratings success as well as expanded global viewership for the company. Diverse and international talent is both a strategic priority and a personal passion for Ms. Lee. Her relentless and global search for talent led to the discovery of talent such as Bollywood sensation Priyanka Chopra, who was cast in the drama Quantico after Ms. Lee met her in India and brokered a talent deal with her in a competitive situation. Ms. Lee discovered Korean actress Yunjin Kim, who starred in the ABC series Mistress and whose character in Lost was created for her after Ms. Lee orchestrated a meeting with executive producer J.J. Abrams. Colombian actress Sofia Vergara was cast by Ms. Lee in several roles, ultimately starring in Modern Family. Sara Ramirez was discovered by Ms. Lee after the Broadway show Spamalot, and her role in Grey’s Anatomy was created after Ms. Lee introduced Ramirez to creator, writer and Executive Producer, Shonda Rhimes.
Keli Lee’s commitment to finding global talent also led her to conceptualize and create ABC Discovers, a series of landmark initiatives with a globally focused creative talent recruiting program that leverages technology to allow acting, writing and directing talent to submit their original content online. Winners of the program are offered training, mentorship, and capital in order to scale their skills. As the result of this and other efforts, Ms. Lee and her team discovered and mentored more than 500 diverse and international actors. Past program participants include 2014 Academy-Award® winning actress Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave, 2015 Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin, Chadwick Boseman of Marvel’s Black Panther, Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy, Randall Park of Fresh Off The Boat, Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba, and Cornelius Smith Jr., who is now a series regular on the ABC hit drama Scandal.
Ms. Lee earned a B.A. in Philosophy from New York University and is a member of the 2014 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at The Aspen Institute. She was named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business 1000” in 2015. She is a national Board Member for Step Up, and was the 2012 recipient of the Step Up Women’s Network Inspiration Award. She is also a former mentor to the Korean government’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism for KOCCA and is a member of the Council of Urban Professionals, for which she received their CUP Catalyst Award in 2014.
Karl Quinn -National Film Editor, Fairfax Media
Francine Sidhu – Executive Assistant, Screen Producers Australia