NBC’s push for diversity and inclusion continues as it unveils the 2019-2020 classes for Female Forward and the Emerging Director Program, two pioneering scripted initiatives to increase the representation of female and ethnically diverse directors by creating a pipeline into scripted television. The initiatives stand out as the only programs in the industry that give participating directors an in-season guarantee to direct at least one episode.
Female Forward, which aims to achieve gender parity in the director’s chair, ushers in its second year with seven directors helming episodes of NBC shows. The new class of Female Forward directors and the NBC series they will direct include Kris Lefcoe (Superstore), Brenna Malloy (Chicago Fire), SJ Main Muñoz (Chicago Med), Kim Nguyen (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Sara Zandieh (Good Girls).
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Emerging Director Program, which is the network’s first pipeline program for ethnically diverse male and gender non-binary directors. This year’s class includes Mahesh Pailoor who will direct an episode of The Blacklist and Dinh Thai who will helm New Amsterdam.
“Our scripted directing initiatives are proven changemakers in our industry. While celebrating this milestone year, we are so proud to continue building NBC’s legacy of making a meaningful impact in representation on television,” said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Co-Presidents, Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment.
“Female Forward and the Emerging Director Program have become the litmus test for successful and effective pipeline programs, and our new class of accomplished directors will continue to add to our rich heritage,” adds Karen Horne, Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development and Inclusion, NBC Entertainment. “It is especially gratifying to continue to provide a stepping stone into episodic directing for so many talented directors.”
The new classes were chosen from 500 applicants and this year’s participants include directors that have helmed music videos, indie features and have participated in various festivals including Telluride, SXSW and TIFF.
All finalists will be mentored by an established television director. Among them will be the Female Forward advisory council chaired by acclaimed director Lesli Linka Glatter. The council also includes Norberto Barba, Ruben Fleischer, Liz Friedlander, Pamela Fryman, Nisha Ganatra, Peter Horton, Gail Mancuso, Ken Olin, Julie Anne Robinson, Millicent Shelton and Michael Spiller. Jaffar Mahmood and Sharat Raju joined the council this year.