Our Q&A with Telly Jury Council Member Lee Simpson

Head of TV & Entertainment, ustwo

Currently based in LA, Lee Simpson is ustwo’s Head of TV and Entertainment where he currently oversees the strategic direction and delivery of ustwo’s work in the TV and entertainment industry. Developing partnerships with companies such as Comcast, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal and Netflix, he leads a dedicated team focused on exploring innovative products and experiences that help solve the complex challenges in the media and video content space.

What video/television piece inspired you recently? 
I’m constantly inspired by the work that Netflix are doing. They’ve built a platform that is giving creative freedom and exposure to creators in a way thats never been done at this scale before. The fact that they’re taking a risk with shows like Master of None and Disjointed is driving the whole industry forward.
Netflix are also doing some interesting things on the interactive content front. They’ve been experimenting with choose-your-own-adventure kids shows like Buddy Thunderstruck and Puss In Boots which are both amazing. I love that they’ve taken a relatively simple mechanic and applied it to linear content in a way that completely changes how you engage with the show. It would have been awesome to have shows like this when I was a kid.
What is most exciting for you at the moment within your industry?
I like that people are finally taking risks. Aside from a few mavericks here and there, the TV and entertainment industry has gone on relatively untouched for 60+ years. Now creators and media organizations are realizing the full potential of technology, and leveraging it to reach new audiences and tell better stories.
And part of taking risks is that not everything will work. A lot of this is about experimenting with new technologies and formats, and there will be failures but at the end of the day, thats OK. The main thing is that people are trying new things, and fresh ideas are starting to rise to the surface — the face of the TV landscape is changing for the better.
What is one thing the Telly Awards community should know about you? 
In a previous life I was an art galley manager specializing in street art and graffiti. I spent almost three years managing artists and curating shows in my home town of Newcastle (UK) which has a pretty solid graffiti scene.
What is a piece of work you are most proud to have worked on?
I spent a year at The Guardian newspaper working on editorial workflow tools and content management systems for journalists, basically enabling more efficient reporting, both online and offline. It was during their coverage of the NSA’s and GCHQ’s worldwide electronic surveillance program and the same year we won a Pulitzer Prize. It felt like we were working for an important cause.
I’m also proud of the work that I’ve done at ustwo. They’ve given me the freedom to build up our media and entertainment practice and supported me when I wanted to bring that from New York to LA. I’ve had the chance to work with some awesome clients over the past 4 years and I’ve learned a lot — it’s a pretty special place to work.