With credits like “Mrs. America,” “You’re the Worst,” and “Undone” under her belt, April Shih has managed to strike a seamless blend of humor, drama, and pathos in her writing. But finding her niche didn’t come easily. After exploring the indie film scene in LA, writing for hour-long dramas, and participating in multiple screenwriting labs, Shih made the conscious choice to stop trying to confine her style of writing to either dramas or sitcoms. “It doesn’t really matter if you have those boxes checked if you don’t care about the scripts,” she explained in a 2018 interview. Leaning into the autobiographical while developing her voice, Shih decided to focus exclusively on writing scripts she felt passionate about.
After breaking out as a staff writer on the fifth season of “You’re the Worst,” a subversive, laugh-out-loud FX rom-com that was lauded for its depiction of depression, Shih was hired as a writer and story editor for another project on the network, 2020’s “Mrs. America.” Led by Cate Blanchett, the star-studded historical drama digs into the efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. It follows Phyllis Schlafly, who successfully campaigned against ratification. The miniseries earned Shih and the “Mrs. America” team a WGA Award for Best Original Long Form.
Shih’s investment in complex, women-oriented stories didn’t stop with “Mrs. America.” She joined “Undone,” Amazon Studios’ first animated series geared toward adults, for its second season. The show, which premiered in 2019, follows a Mexican-American family on a journey of self-discovery and healing. After getting into a harrowing car crash, its protagonist, Alma (Rosa Salazar), acquires the ability to time travel. With this newfound power, she and her sister piece together the mystery of their father’s death, learning even more about their roots along the way.
The second season of “Undone” is up for Best Streaming Animated Series or Television Movie at this year’s Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards.
In 2021, Shih signed an overall deal with FX Productions through her and Jen Goyne Blake’s production banner, Diversity Hire Ltd., to create and develop original content. One project in development is a half-hour series, “Love Rules,” with Larry Wilmore of Issa Rae’s “Insecure” and ABC Studios.
Diversity Hire Ltd. is female-founded, artist-first, and dedicated to amplifying unheard voices. Their most recent film, “Joyland,” premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. The Pakistani drama focuses on the youngest son of a patriarchal family who secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls in love with an ambitious trans starlet. Their story brings the entire family’s sexual repression to light. “Joyland” currently has a 100 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won two honors at Cannes, the Un Certain Regard jury prize and the Queer Palm.
For the past few years, Shih’s skills as a writer have benefitted multiple fresh, forward-thinking projects. Now as a producer under her own company, she is able to continue her mission for diversity and genre-bending in film and television.
Season 2 of “Undone” is available now on Prime Video. “Mrs. America” and “You’re the Worst” are both available on Hulu. You can learn more about Diversity Hire Ltd. on its website.