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Finding Success on ‘Succession’

Maeve Kelly '19 in Kaufman Studios, NYC
After graduating from Endicott’s interior architecture program, Maeve Kelly ’19 is applying her expertise in the television industry.
By: Sarah Sweeney

Even though she now works on the show, Maeve Kelly has only just started watching Succession, the Sunday night HBO hit about a dysfunctional family loosely based on the Murdochs. 

“I'm not the biggest TV watcher, but I am in love with storytelling and have such an appreciation for the art,” confessed Kelly, a 2019 interior architecture graduate now part of a team charged with overseeing the show’s set—and breaking it down forever. 

When news broke that Succession’s fourth season (premiering on March 26) would also be its final, legions of fans turned to social media to express their grief over losing the fictitious and wildly entertaining Roy family earlier than expected. 

Created by Jesse Armstrong and helmed by Brian Cox as the towering media magnate Logan Roy, Succession follows his children—played by Alan Ruck, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, and Kieran Culkin—as they wheel and deal and frequently self-destruct while all vying to succeed their father—and each other—at Waystar RoyCo., the family media conglomerate. 

“We’re in wrap mode, so we’re figuring out how to close out the series—figuring out where all the furniture and stuff is going to go, whether there’s a sale or a donation,” added Kelly, who is the show’s set decoration production assistant … for a few more weeks anyway. 

Growing up in Monroe, N.Y., Kelly always loved to create things. “I went through so many phases—from building things in the backyard and doing crafts to a cooking phase and a fashion phase. Then in high school, I took an architecture drafting class and fell in love.”

After graduating from Endicott, she took a job at an architectural firm where she found the role—and working from home—a bit stifling. 

“It’s just not how I work,” said Kelly. 

During the pandemic, she decided to make a change and move to Brooklyn “on a whim,” she said. There, she started freelancing in interior design and working at a restaurant when her father, a career TV cameraman, connected her with some industry friends to get an idea of what their day-to-day looked like and to see if the industry might be right for her. 

“I found that entertainment is way more hands-on and it’s faster and there aren’t as many creative barriers that there are in architecture,” she said. 

Kelly started looking for full-time jobs in the industry, but it was difficult without much experience. Then, in May 2022, she got her first big break as a set decoration production assistant for Power Book II: Ghost on Starz. After that, she worked on the NBC show New Amsterdam. Then HBO came calling. 

But working in set decoration isn’t that different from interior architecture, according to Kelly. 

“I was nervous that I would feel like a fish out of water, but I really didn’t because they use plans and draft the same way that we were taught at Endicott,” said Kelly. “And they sourced furniture and talk to vendors the same way that we did in interior design. So all of the ways that our projects were structured in school have helped me navigate similar things in TV.”

Though she’s still new to the industry, Kelly likes the culture of working with creatives like herself and sees her career blossoming. 
“There’s so much you can do with design that I can see myself wanting to explore—a pop-up opportunity, events, commercials. I could also move into the art department, which is a little more architecture. There are a lot of options.”

After Succession, Kelly is off to work on a Netflix limited series with Robert De Niro called Zero Day, and she’ll be going with many of her colleagues from the HBO set. 

“It’s always everyone’s goal to find that group that you mesh well with and then move with them to the next opportunity,” she said. 

With her time at Succession dwindling, don’t expect any spoilers, however. With script and set access, Kelly signs a non-disclosure agreement for each show. 

But for the Succession superfans out there, she can divulge just a little: “You can expect a great season.”