Jennifer O’Connell is Executive Vice President, Non-Fiction & Live-Action Family Originals for HBO Max, responsible for leading unscripted and alternative programming, developing a unique slate across a broad range of formats from compelling documentary features and docuseries to competition and lifestyle programming to big event specials. Working with prestige creators and brands, as well as with new voices, the slate is geared toward female-skewing, Gen Z and millennial viewers covering a wide array of topics that are both entertaining and socially relevant. O’Connell is also responsible for creating live-action scripted content geared toward a co-viewing audience for older kids and adults.
O’Connell’s non-fiction slate includes feature documentaries and docuseries that examine both socially conscious and pop cultural topics in engaging and accessible formats. Class Action Park, a feature documentary about New Jersey’s infamous water park, is a #1 film on HBO Max, and On the Record, a feature addressing the #metoo movement through the lens of the hip-hop industry, debuted with critical acclaim and a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Within docuseries, programs include Amy Schumer’s intimate three-parter Expecting Amy, the upcoming Heaven’s Gate with CNN Original Studios, and Equal, a four-part series chronicling theroots of the LGBTQ+ movement narrated by Emmy®, Tony® and Grammy®-winner Billy Porter.
O’Connell also oversees the platform’s nostalgic event specials such as the reunion specials for Friendsand The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The West Wing special to benefit Michelle Obama’s “When We All Vote.”
On the reality side, the slate includes competition, dating and lifestyle programming aimed at Max’s target audiences. Competition series include the underground ballroom culture dance-off Legendary, the floral design show Full Bloom, and Haute Dog from the Instagram famous dog groomer Jess Rona and including celebrity judge, Robin Thede. Within lifestyle, highlights include celebrity-driven programming such as Selena Gomez’s quarantine cooking show Selena + Chef and World of Calm, narrated by the likes of Idris Elba, Kate Winslet and Mahershala Ali leading viewers through guided visual sleep stories. O’Connell has also taken a creative approach to the traditional dating genre with such series as the upcoming holiday dating series 12 Dates of Christmas, meant to celebrate and poke fun at all of those rom-coms that audiences eat up around the winter holidays.
Additionally, on the live action scripted co-viewing front, O’Connell has multiple pilots in the works including the highly anticipated DC Super Hero High and the revival of Head of the Class.
Before HBO Max, O’Connell was EVP and Head of Worldwide Alternative Programming at Lionsgate, overseeing the development and production of unscripted across all platforms. O’Connell has also held positions at NBCUniversal, Core Media Group, Shed Media U.S., Disney Channel and the Family Channel, guiding and developing such projects as Selling Sunset, The Real Housewives of New York City, The Biggest Loser, Who Do You Think You Are?, Kevin Hart’s What the Fit, and Emmy Award®-winning The Matthew Shepherd Story.
O’Connell has served as a mentor for The Hollywood Reporter and Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Women in Entertainment Mentorship program. She is on the Emerson College Alumni Board and launched an advisory program that links alumni with students studying in Los Angeles.