EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Television unveiled the 12 helmers selected for the next class of its Diverse Directors Program: Jeannie Donohoe, Alexandra Fisher, Alesia Glidewell, Mousa Kraish, Sarah Lancaster, Kantú Lentz, C.C. Miller, Aldo Pisano, Aemilia Scott, Monique Sorgen, Ham Tran and Zao Wang. Read more about them below.
Now in its sixth year, the annual program provides opportunities for artists of diverse backgrounds to take part in an intensive episodic directing workshop consisting of discussion and instruction from working directors, production personnel and entertainment professionals at the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City.
The initiative is part of SPT’s commitment to providing opportunities to talented artists of diverse backgrounds.
“The Diverse Directors Program has been instrumental in opening the door to storytellers who offer different perspectives,” said Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television Studios. “At SPT, diverse voices are essential to telling meaningful and poignant stories, and we’re happy to welcome another class of talented directors.”
This television season, DDP alumni are directing a total of 12 episodes of SPT Studios series including The Good Doctor, Blacklist, For Life, The Goldbergs, LA’s Finest, Lincoln, S.W.A.T. and Wheel of Time. Alum Catalina Alguilar-Mastretta is casting the feature Esta Dia, a Latinx romantic comedy that she wrote and has plans to direct in 2020. Other notable alumni include Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Aneesh Chaganty (Searching), Solvan Naim (It’s Bruno), Milena Govich (FBI), among others.
Here is more on this new DDT class:
Glidewell, a Los Angeles-based director of Japanese/Brazilian descent, has lived in Saudi Arabia, Latin America and across the U.S. Glidewell has directed over a dozen original branded campaigns and digital series, and her debut feature, Look at Me (2011), is available on Amazon Prime. She’s a recipient of the Superlounge Diversity Award for Commercial Directing (2018) and was a SH//FT VR Scholar (2017).
Kraish is a Palestinian-American actor, writer and director from Brooklyn who can be seen on Starz’s American Gods. Kraish’s television appearances include Transparent, Designated Survivor and Homeland, while his film credits include You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Superbad. Kraish also has written and directed several short films and plays, and his short The Last Deli in Brooklyn has appeared in the HollyShorts Film Festival, The Coney Island Film Festival and Dances with Films Film Festival.
Peruvian-German filmmaker Kantu Lentz is based in Los Angeles and recently directed the short film Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die. Her earlier film Coche Bomba was one of just five projects selected by the Tribeca/Chanel Through Her Lens Fellowship this year. An AFI Directing Workshop for Women alum, Lentz is also part of the 2019 Viacom Viewfinder Emerging Directors Program.
A Los Angeles-based Latinx writer-director specializing in comedy, Pisano wrote and directed When the Bomb Drops, which was nominated for an Imagen Award for Best Comedy Web Series. Pisano developed a pilot at WB and wrote and directed the pilot episode of the web series Granny, which premiered at HBO’s New York Latino Film Festival. He has been a finalist for Sundance’s Episodic Lab and for their New Voices Lab.
Tran has directed features, commercials and branded shorts for global brands. He received his MFA in Directing from the UCLA School of Film and Television. His thesis film The Anniversary was shortlisted for the 2004 Academy Awards for Best Live Action Short. Tran’s first feature, Journey from the Fall, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, won 16 international festival awards for Best Feature Film and was the first Vietnamese film released by Netflix. He has shot five feature films in Vietnam since 2012.
After graduating with a film degree from SMU, Miller worked for Lorne Michaels’ production company, Broadway Video. She has produced projects for talent including Kate McKinnon, Alec Baldwin and John Cena. She is an executive producer for the hit YouTube Originals comedy series Liza on Demand. In 2018, she directed the short film Yes, I Will Hold and recently completed Eavesdropping, starring Kimiko Glenn (Orange Is the New Black).
An award-winning filmmaker, Sorgen has directed music videos and short films. After studying acting and directing at UCLA, she worked as a television director’s assistant on comedies for NBC and UPN. Her current short, Sorry, Not Sorry, starring Wallace Langham, Jessica Oyelowo and M. Emmet Walsh, is touring the world at comedy festivals, and she is prepping a feature film.
Focusing on stories for and about women, Fisher directs commercials, shorts and documentaries. Her films have screened at more than 40 festivals around the world. She has directed, written and produced documentaries for CNN’s Great Big Story, is currently co-writing a feature with Marc Forster and has another in development. Fisher holds an undergraduate degree in Drama from the University of Bristol (UK), and an MFA in Film Directing from UCLA. Born in Paris and raised in Switzerland, she speaks five languages.
Wang was raised by two generations of film directors in Beijing before moving to Jackson, MS. His work has screened at Tribeca, Fantasporto, Busan, Montreal, Yubari, Palm Springs and Shanghai International. Wang won Best Director and Best Horror/Thriller awards at NBCUniversal Shorts Fest. A former Directing Fellow at Bad Robot, Wang is an Emerging Director for TV at NBCUniversal. He is currently in development on several features and series.
Donohoe has written and directed several short films, including GAME, screening at more than 200 festivals and the recipient of 70 awards; Aspen Shortsfest winner Lambing Season, named one of the Best Short Films of 2014 by Indiewire and currently airing on PBS Film School Shorts; and Publicnow (Palm Springs Shortfest and PBS Imagemakers). Donohoe is producing a documentary and developing her first feature film.
After 20 years working in front of the camera, Lancaster decided to pursue her ambitions behind it. She co-wrote the screenplay and directed Josie and Jack, which screened at the 2019 Downtown LA Film Festival. Lancaster’s next feature is another adaptation, based on 2015’s After Birth by Elisa Albert, with whom she is writing the screenplay.
Scott is an award-winning writer-director who works in commercials, shorts and music videos. She has written and performed with the Second City and at TBS Just for Laughs Festival, New York Fringe Festival and the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. Her short film, Best If Used By, won a BAFTA Los Angeles Award at Aspen Shorts Fest, Honorary Mentions at REGARD Quebec and USA Film Fest Dallas. Scott has two feature film scripts in development.