Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Janet Hyojo Oh

By Maura Garnett

Welcome to NYWIFT Janet Hyojo Oh!

Janet Hyojo Oh is an independent producer and screenwriter with a passion for rom-coms and storytelling. Janet shares insights into her creative process, the impact of events she organizes for women in the arts, and overcoming challenges in her career.

Janet emphasizes collaboration, kindness, and the importance of balance in the business of producing. She also reflects on winning her first screenplay award and offers advice to aspiring producers and screenwriters: embrace kindness, collaboration, and curiosity.

NYWIFT Member Janet Hyojo Oh


How would you describe yourself in a brief elevator pitch?

Janet Oh is an independent producer and screenwriter obsessed with rom-coms and Doctor Who. She loves empowering women through impactful storytelling and the creation of events.


What is the best industry advice you received?

Lean on your peers and nurture your relationships.

In writing, exchanging support and critique with others is invaluable for personal growth as writers. Similarly, in filmmaking and event planning, teamwork is crucial; ideas come to life through collective effort. By supporting and uplifting each other, we foster a community where everyone can become the best version of themselves.


What brought you to NYWIFT?

I was introduced to NYWIFT through my superstar mentor, Judith Balkin, a fellow NYWIFT member, who encouraged me to join. NYWIFT felt like the perfect place for me to not only expand my network but also immerse myself in a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive community where members thrive both personally and professionally.


What inspired you to pursue a career in the arts and entertainment industry, specifically focusing on producing and writing rom-coms?

To All The Boys I Loved Before (2018), featuring Lana Condor as a young Asian American woman in a Korean American rom-com narrative. While I had long aspired to be a writer (even dreaming of becoming a future showrunner for Doctor Who since high school), I struggled to connect with my stories due to a lack of representation in mainstream Western media.

Witnessing both Lana Condor and Jenny Han, the author of the books, become household names became a catalyst for me to pursue rom-coms. For the first time, I saw myself reflected on screen, and the overwhelming love and acceptance from the large YA audience further affirmed that there was a demand for stories like mine.


Can you share some insights into your creative process when developing stories for rom-coms, and how you bring a unique perspective to the genre?

My creative process is fueled by deep my passion for the rom-com genre, which I balance with a thorough study of its tropes and trends. I then delve into what I like to call my “evil plotting” phase, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources including family, friends, and new acquaintances. It’s all very fun, I promise!

Growing up immersed in Disney Princess movies, classic rom-coms from the 90s and 2000s, YA Fiction, and K-Dramas has been instrumental in shaping both my personal identity and creativity style. However, my childhood was not all rainbows and sunshine. Living in South Korea for one year as a twelve-year-old Korean American brought about feelings of culture shock, fear, and isolation, which persisted upon returning to the US. I struggled to emotionally reconnect with old friends and readjust to the American classroom setting. Thus, isolating myself and developing a strong attachment to British TV shows like Doctor Who as a way of coping with feeling different from others led to my long journey of overcoming these past challenges and unhealthy behaviors.

However, having this unique perspective on life, coupled with my love for the rom-com genre, has made me keenly aware of the importance of leveraging the power of storytelling to not only entertain but also inspire positive change. My theory is that rom-coms are beloved by many because we yearn to feel loved in real life, and we do so by vicariously experiencing that through fictional characters. With this in mind, my aim is to create rom-com stories that deeply resonate with viewers, inspiring them to take action towards healthy self-love and meaningful connections, both platonically and romantically, in their real lives.


Tell us about some of the impactful events you have organized to empower women in the arts. How do you believe such events contribute to the industry’s growth and inclusivity?

Being involved in organizing networking events for Cutter Connections, founded by Hillary Cutter, a fellow NYWIFT member, has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. Their mission revolves around connecting and empowering professional women of all stages, particularly supporting recent graduates in honing their networking skills and forming relationships with seasoned creative professionals. We’ve organized events dedicated to championing multi-hyphenate careers and navigating the ever-evolving landscape of our industry by confidently exploring diverse creative mediums.

These events play a crucial role in nurturing the growth and inclusivity of women within the arts and entertainment industry. By bringing women together from diverse backgrounds, these events help facilitate meaningful connections and collaborations. Given the ongoing underrepresentation of women, including women of color, in the arts and entertainment industry, creating such spaces is essential. They empower us to join forces, inspire future collaborations, and work towards addressing the lack of representation in the industry.


Janet Hyojo Oh at a Cutter Connections Event


In your experience, what challenges have you faced as a producer and screenwriter, and how have you overcome them to achieve success in your career?

Challenges have included overworking myself to exhaustion and feeling the intense pressure not to let down the team or allow them to feel unsupported. Once I realized shouldering such burdens was not sustainable in the long run, I underwent a mindset shift, delving into self-reflection and reevaluating the meaning of art and its impact on society to me. As a result, I’ve recognized the importance of prioritizing self-care, including sufficient sleep, travel, experiencing new things, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, for the sake of my well-being and productivity.

While I haven’t entirely overcome these challenges, incorporating these healthy habits into my daily life to the best of my ability has significantly changed my perspective. More importantly, it has empowered me to start taking more daring risks in my scripts and find creative production solutions that help my team feel supported by me.


Are there any specific themes or messages that you aim to convey through your work, especially in the context of empowering women and promoting diversity?

Through my experiences, I’ve come to realize that promoting empathy and compassion is instrumental in driving societal change. Motivated by feeling and appearing different from others in spaces at a young age, I aim to normalize diversity on screen by highlighting universal themes of self-love and acceptance. I believe these themes are fundamental to creating a healthier outlook on ourselves and our relationships with others, both platonic and romantic.

Additionally, while I recognize the value of formal education, I’m aware of its limitations in providing mental health support and teachings to both girls and boys. So, I hope to bridge this gap by creating stories that entertain while also championing diversity and promoting empathy, which would be beneficial to building a more inclusive and understanding society.


How do you balance the business side of producing with your creative aspirations, ensuring both aspects complement each other in your projects?

I prioritize self-care to ensure I’m grounded and mentally prepared to tackle both aspects effectively. This includes organizing my steps, thinking clearly about the tasks ahead, and remembering why I fell in love with the specific project in the first place. While it’s easy to become disillusioned when a story or project feels like a “product,” I remind myself at the core, that I’m a passionate fan of storytelling. What drives me is the creative process of bringing stories to life and leaving a lasting impact on audiences.

So, by acknowledging the realities of how stories are commodified while staying connected to my passion for storytelling, I’m able to find the balance between the the business side of producing and my creative aspirations.


Can you share some of your favorite moments or achievements in your career so far that have been particularly rewarding or memorable?

Receiving my first screenplay award for Woosung (TV Pilot) in 2021 was one of my most favorite moments in my career. It was my first original story about a second-generation Korean American woman in her mid-20s who finds herself thrust into a leadership position at her South Korean grandfather’s internationally renowned electronics company.

While it wasn’t strictly a rom-com, writing the pilot challenged me to explore themes of identity, leadership, family dynamics, cultural expectations, and forbidden romance within a male-dominated industry.

Moreover, this recognition served as a catalyst for my family to recognize and appreciate my talents and aspirations. While I’ve learned not to rely solely on external validation, their acknowledgment of my achievement was incredibly gratifying. I’m so thankful for their support as I continue to pursue my career in the arts.


What advice would you give to aspiring producers and screenwriters who are looking to make their mark in the industry, especially those with a passion for empowering women through storytelling?

Be driven by the stories you want to share and treat yourself and others with kindness and respect. Collaboration is key in filmmaking, so try to surround yourself with supportive individuals who share your vision and values. Remember, success in this industry is about lifting each other up rather than competing to reach the top.

Challenges are inevitable, so strive to make the process enjoyable by being understanding and empathetic towards yourself and others.

Don’t hesitate to take breaks and come back to a project feeling refreshed and determined to see them through to completion.

Lastly, stories are born from lived experiences and wisdom, so be curious and open about the world around you.


Janet Hyojo Oh on a film set

Janet Hyojo Oh on a film set


Connect with Janet Hyojo Oh on her website janetohwriter.com or Instagram at @janetohwriter


Maura Garnett

Maura Garnett Maura Garnett is an intern at NYWIFT and an aspiring Casting Director, Director, and producer She will graduate from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in film and a specialization in Directing in 2024. She has previously interned for Stephanie Klapper Casting, which has led her to pursue her own career in casting. As well, as directing her own films in her free time, Maura has worked on various indie feature films and short films as a Producer and Assistant Director.

View all posts by Maura Garnett

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