A Hawaii writer’s fairy tale adventure from humble roots to big Emmy win

Susan Soon He Stanton, who grew up in Aiea, won an Emmy for writing for HBO’s “Succession.”
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 8:17 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:15 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aiea native Susan Soon He Stanton is still soaking in her big Emmy win!

The 40-year-old is a key writer and supervising producer for HBO’s “Succession”.

”It’s a story about a media mogul and his family. In certain ways, it’s a very small family drama but it’s also about a family of billionaires,” explained Stanton. “In certain ways, they’re like siblings all seeking their father’s love but they’re also in control of the way the world sees power.”

Last week, the show won four Emmys, two for Outstanding Drama Series and Best Drama Series Writing. It earned 25 nominations — the most of any series!

”I feel really, really lucky to be part of such a great show,” Stanton said.

David, her younger brother flew up from Honolulu and they Facetimed their parents in Hawaii to celebrate Susan’s big night.

”The one thing I will tell you is that if you have a writer in the family, be careful what you say because it may end up in a play and it has happened to us many times!” joked Susan’s mother Barbara Stanton.

”When she was little, she used to make these popsicle stick figures and then she’d have a little play. Her brother would sell us our own cans of soda from the refrigerator. We’d sit down on the floor and watch her little plays. She was about five or six years old,” recalled Barbara.

”I think I always loved writing and telling stories,” said Susan. “My dad is a poet and a writer but I was also this shy kid who was part of this big local family and so there was a lot of people talking all the time. I just would sort of listen and I think there was a part of me that loved to be in a room full of talking people. I just kind of observe.”

Susan Soon He Stanton and family
Susan Soon He Stanton and family(Courtesy: Barbara Stanton)

When she was 14, Susan was the assistant director of Honolulu Theater for Youth. At 16, she wrote her first play.

She graduated from Punahou in 1999, then attended New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

Years later, Stanton’s hard work and determination paid off.

”Christine Kim who works at HBO as a producer she’s also from Hawaii, also Korean and we just really hit it off. She liked my writing,” said Stanton.

Now, the award-winning HBO writer for 5 years is busy creating storylines for season four of “Succession”.

”My goal is always the same, which is just to be a storyteller [and tell stories] that are meaningful and emotional to me. Telling stories from Hawaii, female driven stories with diversity as much as possible,” said Stanton.

She said she’s moving toward being a show writer and leading where she can.

“I just want to be making art as much as possible with people whom I love and admire.”

Listen to our conversation with Susan and her mother Barbara on our ‘Muthaship’ podcast on our website or search for ‘Muthaship’ wherever you download podcasts.