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Los Angeles -- Kay Cannon, a performer, screenwriter, producer and three-time Emmy nominee, had never directed anything before “Blockers,” an R-rated teen sex comedy that Universal Pictures is releasing wide Friday.

She’d written and produced for “30 Rock” and “New Girl,” written the scripts for the enormously successful “Pitch Perfect” films and created the Netflix series “Girlboss.” But directing was not yet on her resume, and it came as a surprise when executives at Good Universe and Point Grey, the production companies behind the “Neighbors” films, hand-picked her to breathe some life into a stalled project about three teen girls who decide to lose their virginity on prom night and the parents who try to stop them.

“I never had an issue being the head of a team, or a team captain or in charge or the boss,” Cannon, 43, said recently, but she still worried about her credentials. She hadn’t gone to film school, and wondered if she was even qualified enough to do it.

But she got over that and took on the challenge of directing a major studio comedy. She was hired, as she likes to say now, “off of potential.”

It helped, of course, that Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley and production president Peter Cramer knew Cannon already from the “Pitch Perfect” films, which helped convince them that she was up to the task.

Cannon’s opportunity came because Point Grey and Good Universe actively sought her out, and she said it’s convinced her that that is what more studios should be doing. She supports the idea of inclusion riders (“It forces people to try,” she said) and is excited to get into a position where she, too, can be mentoring and hiring women off of potential.

‘Blockers’

Opens Friday

Rated R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity

Running time: 102 minutes

Return to The Detroit News to read film critic Adam Graham's review of the movie.

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