Robin Thede

Robin Thede was an American writer, actress, and comedian who brought a unique and truthful perspective to the world of TV comedy, thanks to her hardscrabble, biracial upbringing, and shattered the glass ceiling of the writer's room, becoming the first black female head writer on a late night talk show. Born in Spencer, Iowa to a white father and a black mother, Thede's childhood was decidedly blue collar: her family lived in a trailer park for a time, while her father worked as a teacher, and her mother was involved in local politics, eventually climbing her way up the ladder all the way to the Iowa State House of Representatives, where she won a seat in 2009. After earning a BSJ in Broadcast Journalism and African-American Studies at Northwestern University, Thede moved to Chicago, where she studied improv, sketch, and comedy writing at The Second City. She made her TV debut on an episode of the first season of the sitcom "All of Us" (UPN, 2003-2006/The CW, 2006-2007), which was based on the lives of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Thede appeared as a panel guest on David Allen Grier's short-lived satirical program "Chocolate News" (Comedy Central, 2008), and wrote and performed in the straight to DVD comedy special "Mike Epps: Funny Bidness" (2009). After making an appearance on season one of the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland" (TV Land, 2010-15), she began working behind the scenes in the writer's room as well as in front of the camera: Thede was a writer and performer on both the sitcom "Clunkers" (USA, 2011), and the sketch comedy show "In the Flow with Affion Crockett" (FOX, 2011). Both projects were short-lived. She then made a cameo in a 2012 episode of the hugely popular sketch program "Key and Peele" (Comedy Central, 2012-15), while also making her film debut alongside Marlon Wayans in the horror spoof "A Haunted House" (2013). Thede kept up her relationship with the Wayans family by landing a recurring role on the dramatic sitcom "Second Generation Wayans" (BET, 2013), followed by another recurring role on the midseason replacement sitcom "The Goodwin Games" (FOX, 2013), and then a writing gig on the reality TV parody show "Real Husbands of Hollywood" (BET, 2013-2016). Thede then moved on to daytime TV, where she served on the writing staff of "The Queen Latifah Show" (Sony Pictures Television, 2013-15). By season two, Thede had worked her way up to becoming head writer, but sadly the series was cancelled due to low ratings. However, this proved to be a blessing in disguise for Thede, as her next job would catapult her into the history books: with her job as head writer on "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" (Comedy Central, 2015-16), Thede became the first black female head writer on a late night talk show. Unfortunately, like most of Comedy Central's attempts to find a viable project to follow "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central, 1996-) following the end of "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central, 2005-2014), "The Nightly Show" was cancelled after two seasons. The experience left Thede ready to step in front of the camera once again, as host of her own politics and pop culture-skewering talk show, "The Rundown with Robin Thede" (BET, 2017-18), which she hosted for one season before it was cancelled due to low ratings.