The industry’s first directing pipeline program for unscripted shows has set its 2019-2020 class, helping to create equal representation behind the scenes on alternative series.
The Alternative Directors Program was launched two years ago to give experienced female and ethnically diverse directors the opportunity to expand their repertoire of alternative formats and complex directing styles. The ultimate goal is hiring them as show directors on an NBC or Universal Television Alternative Studios series.
This year, the program directors will rotate through two to three alternative shows across the network’s daytime, primetime and late night line-ups. During their tenure on each show, they will shadow the respective show directors through prep and production, with the goal of directing a meaningful segment on one of the shows they shadow. The show directors will also serve as their mentors and advocates.
Following the program, they will be considered for available series directing positions on NBC and Universal Television Alternative Studios shows.
The new class comprised of eight directors and the shows in their rotations are Eve Adair (America’s Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior,” Songland), Ana Bretón (A Little Late with Lilly Singh), Dale Lewis (American Ninja Warrior,The Kelly Clarkson Show, Songland), Justin Mabardi (The Titan Games, World of Dance), Stephanie Medina (America’s Got Talent, The Voice), JP Perez (The Kelly Clarkson Show, Making It, World of Dance), Jeannie Roshar (The Kelly Clarkson Show, Making It, The Voice) and Lauren Quinn (Songland, The Voice, World of Dance).
The directors to serve as mentors are Alan Carter (The Voice), Ivan Dudynsky (Songland), Phil Heyes (The Titan Games), Alex Rudzinski (World of Dance), Patrick McManus (American Ninja Warrior), Russell Norman (America’s Got Talent), Paul Starkman (Making It) and Joe Terry (The Kelly Clarkson Show).
The first year of the program already boasts success stories: two directors from the inaugural class were hired for their first directing roles on NBC alternative shows. Carrie Havel was the series director on the first season of the network’s comedy competition Bring the Funny, and Sharon Everitt directed on the first season of the late night show A Little Late with Lilly Singh.
Additionally, the inaugural class directed segments on American Ninja Warrior, America’s Got Talent, Making It, The Wall and World of Dance during their tenure in the program.
“In just one year, the Alternative Directors Program has already proven that by giving opportunities to talented diverse directors, we can increase representation behind the scenes on alternative shows and begin taking steps to change the landscape of our industry,” said Meredith Ahr, president, Alternative & Reality Group, NBC Entertainment. “Our program has been a top priority for us to institutionalize change and one of the many ways we can bring new perspectives to the unscripted space.”
Chosen from a pool of more than 100 applicants, the new class are experienced directors who have worked on unscripted content including shows such as VH1’s Storytellers, Ink Masters and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee in addition to morning talk shows, award shows, sporting events, and concert films for platinum-selling recording artists.
To be eligible for the program, candidates were required to be eligible to work in the United States. Prior experience directing unscripted or scripted programming was preferred. Unscripted programming included, but was not limited to, live sports, award shows, game shows and variety shows.