Trendsetters at Work: Mom

TV creator shares her career path, family life and personal memories

By Jennifer Chan Apr 14, 2014 6:17 PMTags
Moms Trendsetters, Gemma BakerMelissa Hebeler

It's no easy feat breaking into the entertainment business, so when we had the opportunity to chat up Gemma Baker, co-creator, producer and writer of Mom, we certainly jumped at the chance.

Considering the season finale of the hit show airs tonight, Gemma has a lot to be proud of, so we couldn't wait to get the scoop on her creative (and fun!) career.

Here's what she shared with us:

What was your very first job?
In high school, I was a hostess at a fantastic family-run restaurant called Louis' in San Francisco.

How did you get started in your career?
For years I was working as an office manager by day and performing and writing comedy at night and on weekends. I met Chuck Lorre four years ago, and after reading my samples and seeing some performances, he gave me a shot by hiring me as a staff writer on Two and a Half Men. He changed my life and I'm forever grateful to him.

Who are some of your career heroes?
My boss, Chuck Lorre, because he's brilliant and see previous question. Also, Ann Lamott, David Sedaris, Ira Glass, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Vince Gilligan and Norman Lear.

Melissa Hebeler

What's a typical workday like for you?
My alarm clock is my four-year-old son who comes into our room to snuggle at around 6 a.m.. I get to work around 10 a.m.. Every day is a little different and it's some combination of writing, coming up with new story ideas, casting sessions, table reads and run-throughs. With the exception of Friday nights, when we tape the show in front of a live audience, I'm usually home in time to play 'What's for dinner?'  I try not to miss the nighttime routine with my son: a bath, two books (current favorites: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt) and we share one thing we are grateful for from that day. Then my husband and I get to hang. We binge watch TV shows but it takes forever to finish a season because I can rarely stay awake for an entire episode.

Describe your office décor. What was your inspiration? Did you decorate it yourself?
I love color, whimsy and all things retro. My mother always told me, 'Buy things that make you happy and eventually they will all go together.' But it turns out that isn't always true so I enlisted help from our fabulous set decorator, Ann Shea. I also "commissioned" a painting from my son.  I got him some flat canvases from the art store and I framed it so it would be special. I paid him with Legos and a piece of gum and he was thrilled. 

List five things that are on your desk right now:
Some favorite family photos, dinosaur planters with succulents (my best chance to keep plants alive), a yellow Moleskin notebook with daily to-do lists, a red stapler that I got because I love the movie Office Space, and a huge stack of papers that I'm about to stuff in a drawer so my desk can be photographed for this piece.

Melissa Hebeler

What do you typically wear to work?
I'm attracted to the same things in clothes as I am in office décor but I add ‘comfortable' and ‘washable' to the criteria. I love capri pants, flats and a colorful top. I usually complete the look with a frumpy sweater, but my husband is breaking me of this habit. On tape nights, or anything out of the ordinary, I love a vintage (or vintage-looking) dress.

What are your favorite stores to shop for work clothes?
Anthropologie, Bloomingdales, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Old Navy and Gap. For shoes, and For glasses, I love Society of the Spectacle. Once a year I go to New York City for a couple days to visit friends and I always take an afternoon to shop the boutiques in East Village and the Lower East Side.

What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
"Aim to be the employee you want to have, the co-worker you want to sit next to and the boss you'd want to work for." I can't remember where I heard that but it has served me well.

Melissa Hebeler

Finish the sentence…

Today for lunch I had…a small cheese plate and a cup of soup. I love cheese.  

The first website I log onto every day is…I check Huffington Post quickly in the morning to see if anything major is happening. Throughout the day I check Deadline and Facebook.

The beauty product you can always find in my purse is…Laura Mercier lip gloss in Blush.

My must-have work gadget is... my iPhone with Mophie charging case. And Eddie Gorodetsky, co-creator of Mom and Executive Producer, just turned me onto Toymail. Basically it's an adorable toy that can send and receive voicemails so I can exchange messages with my son using an app. A working mom invented it and it's great for little kids.

My usual Starbucks order is…a tall non-fat latte in the morning. Then another at 2:30p.m., but that one is decaf. If I have caffeine in the afternoon, I'm up until the wee hours organizing Tupperware.

If I need a quick break during work, I usually…go for a walk around the Warner Bros lot. There's a street that looks like New York City, where I'm from, and I like to sit on a stoop and breathe for a minute.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…writing children's books.

The best part of my job is…the hilarious and talented people I work with. I get to laugh all day. People tell me they can hear my cackle from anywhere in the building.

The season finale of Mom airs Monday, April 14 at 9:30 p.m. on CBS. 

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