Daytime Emmys Boss Previews Return to Normal Following Industry Tumult: ‘This One Is About Exhaling’

Office With a View: NATAS President Adam Sharp outlines the “tension” surrounding impending labor deals and why transparency is crucial to rebuild trust

NATAS President Adam Sharp (NATAS/TheWrap)

After a tumultuous year for industry creatives following the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes of 2023, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences president Adam Sharp anticipates this weekend’s Daytime Emmys will serve as a much-needed reprieve and celebration. 

“The community is tired. We’ve been through a lot these last few years, between the pandemic and the strikes,” Sharp told TheWrap for this week’s Office With a View, noting that he didn’t want to jinx another strike delay amid ongoing contract negotiations between the AMPTP and IATSE at the time of this interview. “I think people are just eager to get back to that sense of routine and normalcy, and we embrace that …  the approach right now is to try to get back to that semblance of normal.”

The Daytime Emmys, which is governed by NATAS (which also oversees the regional Emmys and sports Emmys, among others), was the first awards ceremony to pivot to a virtual presentation during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and the first to host a hybrid ceremony the next year. After delaying last year’s ceremony out of respect for the guilds on strike, the Daytime Emmys were the first event post-work stoppage to have a full red carpet. For once, Sharp is looking forward to not being the first at anything, saying “this one is about exhaling.”

“It’s an appropriate time to reset as far as the strikes themselves [and] it’s a unique time because for our community in particular,” Sharp said, clarifying that daytime performers work under the Network Television Code agreement, rather than SAG-AFTRA, meaning soap opera actors, daytime talk show hosts and culinary hosts were working while the actors’ guild was on strike.

However, with the current Network Code contract expiring on June 30, Sharp admitted participants of the Daytime Emmys are “on pins and needles,” though there’s “less fear” surrounding the Network Code agreement as compared to IATSE, of which guild members are honored during the Saturday ceremony. “There’s more concern there, certainly after how things played out with the other guilds last summer,” Sharp said.

“For all the excitement there is going to the show, I think there is going to be a little tension in the room of people thinking, ‘Let’s hope this isn’t our last time together for the next few months,’” Sharp said. 

Below, Sharp outlines how NATAS’ transparency reports reflects a need for accountability for large institutions, how he has utilized his background in politics and technology while governing the entertainment-focused organization and shares advice for young people entering the industry.  

TheWrap: How has the need for transparency been re-emphasized in the post-strike industry?

I wouldn’t necessarily tie the need as particularly post-strike vs. pre-strike, though it certainly runs in the same timeline, because the emotions of last year’s strike react very much to a lot of the same things that the Transparency Report reacts to, and that is, across the board in our culture, a greater sense of needed accountability when it comes to large institutions. There was a generation of blind faith in institutions … and that faith has been eroded over many years. In many cases, that has been self inflicted by the institutions through neglect and bad behavior, and in other cases, it has been externally inflicted by attacks from the outside attacks by politicians against the news media, etc. Either way, however, that trust has been lost and I think that a greater sense of accountability is necessary. That translates then into different pictures of what that accountability manifests as, depending on what that institution is, and what their relationship is to their constituency.  

For us, I don’t think it’s necessarily a given that when we open the envelope on stage, and say, ‘This was the single most outstanding piece of work in this field this year,’ that is just assumed that the process that led to that determination was a purely equitable one that was representative of the community of peers that created that field, and was not somehow influenced by third parties. Whereas there may have been that assumption of trust in the process decades ago, is not the default today. Some of that is through missteps by us and other awards organizations over the years, some of that is just the lowering tide of institutional trust across the board. That makes it incumbent on us to take affirmative steps to be more transparent, more accountable, to demonstrate … here are the steps we took, so that people can be confident in the actions that lead to that determination.

With earlier parts of your career being rather far away from entertainment in politics on Capitol Hill and in tech while working at Twitter, where have you found parts of your background help in your current position?

On the technology side, early in my tenure, the pandemic hit, and all of a sudden processes and transitions that have always been on the horizon for the organization moved from being a long range to “this has to happen right now.” Launching our Emmys OTT platform … moving our workplace to a hybrid environment. All of a sudden, this job was much more of a tech job than I think I anticipated on day one, largely because of that pandemic influence. 

Then on the political side, our organization is now over seven decades old and the industry has changed a lot in that time. We’ve had to adapt, and that adaptation has taken working with a lot of people to steer in a new direction. There’s two other academies, the Television Academy on the West Coast that oversees the primetime Emmys, the International Academy based in New York that does the International Emmys, and then even in our family, we have our 19 regional chapters. The relationship particularly between us and the West Coast has not always been a positive one. For many years, our number one legal expense was just suing each other. That had to stop, our governing structure had to change to adapt to the industry as it was today and not this image of the world that got frozen in carbonite when the Academies divorced in the late ‘70s. Managing that process of reaching an olive branch to 21 other organizations, restructuring an organization that had a board of close to 60 people certainly required many of the skills and approaches that were not so different than what it took to navigate Washington.

What advice do you have for young people entering the industry?

Plans change, and that’s okay. Many years ago, I gave a speech where I said, the the career ladder is a game of Donkey Kong, zigzagging and trying to find the ladder, and usually there’s also some big brute trying to throw barrels at you. The reality is, you want to have a general sense of direction, but don’t get overly married to a precise target, because very often, there’s going to be something just to the left or to the right of it that’s going to emerge and surprise you and you don’t want to have your blinders to it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


One response to “Daytime Emmys Boss Previews Return to Normal Following Industry Tumult: ‘This One Is About Exhaling’”

  1. anonymous Avatar

    Daytime writers got absolutely nothing as a result of the strike and will never be able to make up the money they lost during the strike. That’s full transparency…

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