NBC is expanding its efforts to find diverse unscripted directors. The network today announced the Alternative Directors Program, the industry’s first directing initiative for unscripted programming.

Intended for female and ethnically diverse talent with at least one directing credit, the annual program will help feed the pipeline for new talent behind the camera on alternative series both on NBC as well as shows produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio, NBC says.

Five directors will be chosen for the program, in which they will shadow a seasoned director over several weeks, including prep, production and post. NBC’s participating shows for the program’s inaugural year are America’s Got Talent, Hollywood Game Night, The Voice, The Wall and World of Dance. Directors who will serve as mentors are Alan Carter, Ivan Dudynsky, Russell Norman and Alex Rudzinski.

Beginning today, eligible directors can apply for the program’s initial 2018-19 season at NBCUniTIPS.com. The submission deadline is Friday, June 29. Eligible candidates are required to have at least one unscripted or scripted television directing credit. Unscripted programming can include, but is not limited to, live sports, award shows, game shows and variety shows.

The submission requirements are:

— One letter of recommendation from an advocate of the director who is not a talent representative. — Letters of nomination will not be accepted from anyone who works for or with talent, specifically managers, agents, publicists and lawyers.
— Resume detailing directing experience
— Bio
— Reel summarizing the director’s work
— Up to three completed samples of work
— Responses to two essay questions
— One additional letter of recommendation (optional)

Spearheading the initiative are Meredith Ahr, President, Universal Television Alternative Studio, and Karen Horne, NBC’s Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, who oversees the company’s robust onscreen and behind-the-camera diversity efforts.

“The Alternative Directors Program creates a big opportunity to start changing the unscripted landscape and flip the paradigm on who calls the shots in our industry,” said Ahr. “While much of the conversation around inclusion has been focused on scripted programming, we believe that a big piece of the puzzle is missing without equal concentration on the unscripted space, which makes up a big percentage of what audiences are watching every week. With this program, the goal is to not only give emerging directors the extraordinary opportunity to learn from the best in the business, but also to galvanize the industry as a whole to make strides towards increasing representation behind the camera on alternative series.”

“NBC has always led the way in broadcasting an inclusive view of our world from airing the first African-American woman on television in 1939 to the first interracial kiss on ‘Star Trek,’” said Horne. “So it should be of no surprise that our legacy of groundbreaking ‘firsts’ also extends to our talent pipeline programs, where over the past almost two decades, we have created many of the industry’s first initiatives aimed at developing diverse talent in front and behind the camera. Our hope is that the Alternative Directors Program will follow in the tradition of our long standing scripted tent pole initiatives by creating a wider breadth of representation of people from different backgrounds in unscripted programming.”

The Alternative Directors Program joins NBC’s existing programs, Female Forward and the Emerging Director Program, designed for scripted directors.