EXCLUSIVE: SeriesFest, a non-profit supporting the art of episodic storytelling and inspiring work of female creators, is partnering with Shonda Rhimes’ TV empire Shondaland to launch the inaugural Women Directing Mentorship.

SeriesFest organizers said the initiative is an expansion of their “Featuring Women” platform. The partnership with Shondaland will include the opportunity to shadow a director for an episode of a Shondaland production. Submissions opened today on http://www.seriesfest.com and will close on March 4, 2019. The winner will be announced in June 2019 at SeriesFest: Season 5.

“At SeriesFest, our mission is to support all artists working on serial content,” said founders Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith Westbrook. “Knowing that there are far too few working women behind the camera today, we felt empowered to focus our efforts on an initiative that could help support emerging female directors. We are thrilled to launch our Women Directing Mentorship as the next step in the evolution of our Featuring Women platform and can’t think of a better partner for this inaugural year than Shondaland. Shonda Rhimes changed television landscape and continues to be a leading force as she and her company redefine representation on both sides of the camera and we are honored to be creating this incredible opportunity with them.”

“Shondaland has long been known to defy industry standards through dynamic female characters, but we have also always felt it was important to have equal representation behind the camera,” adds Rhimes. “To have talent and sets that reflect the world we live in has always seemed natural,” said Shonda Rhimes. “We’re happy to partner with SeriesFest on this mentorship initiative to continue providing opportunities for women directors.”

SeriesFest also launched the Jan Marino Scholarship in 2018. The initiative supports women over age 55 enrolled in the Stephens College M.F.A. in Television and Screenwriting program. In addition, the non-profit started the Forward Impact Project, designed in partnership with the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) to help finance, produce, release, scale and build an audience for 12 select independent series deemed ready for development and production.