The 10 directors selected as finalists and the NBC series on which they have been paired are Rebecca Addelman (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Daniela De Carlo (Chicago Med), Lee Friedlander (Good Girls), Heather Jack (Superstore), Katie Locke O’Brien (A.P. Bio), Ramaa Mosley (Blindspot), Olivia Newman (Chicago Fire), Monica Raymund (Law & Order: SVU), Lisa Robinson (The Blacklist) and Christine Swanson (Chicago P.D.).
Chosen from among more than 1,000 applicants, the finalists have helmed a range of projects including award-winning films that have been official selections at Tribeca Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, among others.
Launched last year by then-president Jennifer Salke, “Female Forward” aims to increase female representation in the director’s chair by providing talented female directors with the experience and connections they need to launch and sustain their careers. Finalists will shadow experienced TV directors on up to three episodes of the NBC series in which they have been paired, culminating with an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode.
“As executives who have consistently been working to get more female directors on our shows, it’s so meaningful that one of our first big acts as co-presidents is to officially welcome this inaugural class of talented directors to the NBC family,” said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Co-Presidents, Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment. “What makes this moment even more significant is the realization that by next season our colleagues across the industry will have a larger pool of experienced women to choose from as they are staffing their shows, and that number will multiply as the program culminates year after year. Our goal is to completely eliminate the often-heard excuse – which we strongly believe simply isn’t true – that the reason there isn’t parity in the field is that there aren’t enough qualified women, and we feel confident that this program will begin to change that narrative. ”
“We’ve proven time and again that our pipeline programs discover undeniable talent who bring a fresh point of view to their work, and our first Female Forward class is no exception,” said Karen Horne, Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development and Inclusion, NBC Entertainment. “Diversity in the director’s chair encourages inclusion at every echelon of a production, and our hope is that these 10 women will join the ranks of other women directors who have exponentially affected change by opening doors for those who follow them not only in their field, but across our industry.”
The network partnered with acclaimed TV director Lesli Linka Glatter, along with an advisory council of celebrated directors including Norberto Barba (Mayans MC), Ruben Fleischer (Superstore), Liz Friedlander (Conviction), Pamela Fryman (How I Met Your Mother), Nisha Ganatra (Transparent), Peter Horton (New Amsterdam), Gail Mancuso (Modern Family), Ken Olin (This Is Us), Julie Anne Robinson (Castle Rock), Millicent Shelton (Marvel’s Runaways) and Michael Spiller (Champions). Glatter chairs the council who helped select the inaugural class and whom will serve as their advisors and mentors throughout the program.
“Directing is not an easy road for anyone, but it should be an equal playing field and for the first time, I truly feel that we are at a tipping point,” said Glatter. “I am hopeful that there will be a time in the near future when this is no longer an issue. Female Forward offering qualified and talented women directors the chance to not only to shadow, but to actually direct an episode is a game changer. I’m so excited about this inaugural group of directors and can’t wait to see them at work.”
To be eligible for the program, finalists were required to have directing experience in their respective fields whether their medium of choice is feature films, music videos, commercials, digital content and theater. Candidates could have no more than one scripted television directing credit.