By Catherine Woo
Welcome to NYWIFT, Deniz Cam!
After a career as a journalist for Forbes magazine, Deniz is taking her skills as a storyteller the world of film and TV. She is on the research team for The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV+, a talk show about current events including climate change, the economy, and foreign policy. She is also writing and acting in a live reading of her pilot, 60 Days, about a Turkish immigrant who must get married in 60 days to keep her visa status after quitting her job.
Deniz tells us about her love of New York, being an immigrant from Istanbul, and her Carrie Bradshaw moment seeing her cover story on a billboard on Fifth Avenue.
Describe yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!
Born and raised in Istanbul, I am a producer, writer, and creator, currently working at The Problem with Jon Stewart.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
Community is essential if you want to make it in media and entertainment—and I’m not even talking about the challenges that come with living in New York City as a woman and an immigrant. So far in my life, some of my biggest supporters have been my colleagues who pushed me up and encouraged me to do more and shoot for more. Having a community and a network like NYWIFT is an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and also give back.
As of today, what are some of your career highlights?
Don’t tell my mom, but quite a few times, I stayed up as a teenager and watched the reruns of Sex and the City at midnight in our apartment in Istanbul. I was enamored with New York and writing and the entertainment industry, and of course, I was misled by Carrie’s financial choices, but I paved my own path with quite a few moments that I’m proud of—without the Manolos.
One of my best memories as a writer was seeing the Forbes cover story I wrote on fashion entrepreneur Tory Burch on billboards across Fifth Avenue in October 2020. We were still in the thick of the pandemic, and I remember putting on multiple masks and a face shield and getting on the subway for the first time in MONTHS. I had my shiny blue dress on and I twirled in front of one of the billboards, Carrie Bradshaw style.
As much as I enjoyed being a magazine writer, however, my heart has always been in TV and film, so the day I got my job at The Problem with Jon Stewart to join their research team, I was elated. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard recruiters and managers say they just don’t sponsor visas for immigrants, so having met people who believed in me and wanted to invest in me, was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Since then, we’ve done such amazing things at The Problem—stuff I had dreamed of. Last year, we were nominated for an Emmy and we went to the award ceremony as a team. I had promised myself that I’d only watch a ceremony if I attended one. It was a huge moment for me.
One very specific moment I’m very proud of that I would recommend people watch is a conversation between Jon and I from last December (Dec. 14, 2022). We talked about immigration and this group of kids called Documented Dreamers. Because of insane visa backlogs in our system, kids who move to the U.S. legally with their parents fall out of status once they turn 21 and are deported, essentially being separated from their parents. Being able to highlight their stories has been very important to me—and this is a conversation I will continue to keep on pushing as an immigrant.
What is the day in your life as a producer like?
A lot of reading and learning and meetings! By virtue of being a producer on the research team, I get to learn a lot about a variety of things—from the stock market to the history of racism in this country. I am a nerd at heart and I love to read, so being able to talk to top experts and relaying that information to my colleagues and Jon in a digestible way is a huge part of my job.
Another part of it is also having conversations about narrative and the development of an episode. I get to work with our head writer, all our senior producers, and our post team to figure out the best ways to tell a story and make sure it’s accurate and fair.
How does your past experience as a journalist and wealth reporter influence your work as a producer?
Journalists are story-tellers. The narrative is our bread and butter, especially in longform. We are very good at asking the right questions, finding the right people to talk to, and seeing the throughline for the most effective and impactful story. Those are absolutely skills that translate to being a producer.
At Forbes, a lot of my job was getting some of the richest people in the world to share information with me—and when they didn’t—then finding a way to get that information from somewhere else. Being open-minded to what people have to say and where they come from, but always having a level of skepticism, is a good formula whenever you tell a story—whether it’s nonfiction or fiction.
What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?
A lot of exciting stuff! This August, I will be producing and acting in a stage-reading of a pilot I wrote called 60 Days. The story elaborates on the struggles a young Turkish woman faces in New York, trying to find love while figuring out a way to navigate the U.S. immigration system without getting deported.
We’ve already performed the pilot at Caveat NYC and we’ll be at the Off-off Broadway Tank Theatre on August 9, 10, and 17 as part of its LimeFest. We have amazing people acting in it, including my colleagues from The Problem. I highly recommend you see it!
Going forward, I’m hoping I’ll get to write and create and produce more shows like this one. I’m a huge romance reader and writer, but I don’t get to see people like myself (Turkish, immigrant, Muslim) represented in the stories that I’ve come to admire, so I hope to do more of that!
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