Kabir Akhtar received his first Emmy nomination in 2012 in the Outstanding Picture Editing for Short- Form Segments and
Variety Specials category for the Oscars
In 2013, he received a nomination for
the Outstanding Single-Camera Picture
Editing for an episode of Arrested
It was his third Emmy nomination —
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture
Editing for a Comedy Series category for
his work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — that
proved to be the charm.
The television director-editor won his
first Emmy — a Creative Arts Emmy
Award — September 10.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was first developed
for Showtime with more mature content.
It was later picked up by CW and had to
be tailored differently to fit the new network.
Through this, Akhtar — who began
with editing the pilot — went on to
become the supervising editor, associate producer, and second unit director.
For Kabir, storytelling and showbiz
are a family tradition even though his
father, Dr Salman Akhtar, is a physician, specializing in psychiatry and
human behaviour, at the Jefferson
University in Pennsylvania.
Kabir is a nephew of Indian poet and
lyricist Javed Akhtar and a cousin of
Bollywood filmmaker siblings Farhan
and Zoya Akhtar,
Kabir has a BA in communications
from the University of Pennsylvania and
an MFA in motion picture production
from the University of Miami.
His earlier pursuits as a director include
the opening film for the 2011 Emmys,
starring Jane Lynch and Leonard Nimoy,
a short for the 2012 Academy Awards
starring Billy Crystal and Melissa
McCarthy, and half of the episodes of
HBO’s Mumbai Calling. He has also been
associated with shows like New Girl and
As congratulatory messages poured in,
he made time to speak with India
What was your first reaction to winning
I was extremely surprised. The competition this year was very strong, and our
show is the least-watched among them.
But it is also a very different show, and
looks like the Academy voters loved the
many different styles in the pilot (comedy,
drama, and musical).
When they announced the winner, I
stood up in shock and everyone from our
show jumped up to celebrate!
How difficult is it for an Asian to crack
the global code?
‘Diversity’ has become a point of focus
for studios here, and it is of course very
important — what better way to tell new
stories than to employ creatives with a
variety of life experiences.
Tell me about your beginnings. How did
you get there?
Growing up, I did a lot of theater work,
from elementary school through college. I
wasn’t sure what career I would pursue
until a friend happened to suggest film.
With my theater background and my love
for movies, it made perfect sense.
Coming to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, how
has the experience of working on this
series been for you?
I am in love with the show!
I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to come
to work every day on a show that challenges us all to be both smart and funny,
while working with an amazing cast and
crew who are like a big family.
Do you see the series and the Emmy as a
serious step forward for yourself in the
American entertainment industry?
Winning an Emmy is an incredible
honor. It is especially meaningful since it
is voted on by the best in the business. I
am very excited and looking forward to
whatever is coming up next.
You come from a hugely distinguished
family of entertainers in Bollywood. How
closely connected are you to the Akhtars —
Javedsaab, Shabana, Farhan and Zoya?
We’re very close. You could say we are
Even though we grew up on opposite
sides of the planet, we’ve always kept in
touch and I’m so proud of everything they
do. I’m thrilled to add this award to the
list of the Akhtar family accomplishments!
What took you so far away from home?
I grew up in Philadelphia after my parents moved there, and then I moved to
LA to get started in the business. Luckily,
it’s only a few hours flight away.
Who are the Bollywood actors you enjoy
Is it cheating to say Farhan is my
Tell us a bit about your personal life.
My wonderful girlfriend Charlotte was
there at the Emmys with me, and my
younger sister Nishat came to town to
celebrate the next day.
What are your future plans?
I’m directing an episode of our show
this fall. Stay tuned to see what’s next! n
, Kabir Akhtar is Emmy. Ex-Girfriend, also won an for Outstanding ography, returns eason 2 October CW.
‘When they announced the winner, I stood
up in shock,’ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend editor
Kabir Akhtar admits to Subhash K Jha
after his Emmy win.
India Abroad September 23, 2016