NBC Unveils Alternative Directors Program All-Female Inaugural Class

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Sharon Everitt

The finalists include Sharon Everitt, Madeline Fuste, Sarah De La O, Carrie Havel, Annetta Marion, Cari Townsend and Liz Zanin.

NBC on Tuesday announced the inaugural class for its Alternative Directors Program. The program is the industry's first directing pipeline project for unscripted shows.

The all-female class includes Hollywood Game Night director Madeline Fuste; The Voice's Sarah De La O; The Wall and World of Dance's Sharon Everitt; The Voice's Carrie Havel; Making It's Annetta Marion; American Ninja Warrior's Cari Townsend; and America's Got Talent's Liz Zanin.

The initiative finds NBC taking a step toward equal representation behind the scenes of alternative series, which currently lack diversity. The goal of the program is to give female and ethnically diverse directors access to expand their skill sets in regards to alternative formats and complex directing styles, which will ultimately open more doors for them in their field.

The program was spearheaded by Meredith Ahr, the new president, alternative & reality group at NBC Entertainment, and Karen Horne, senior vp, programming talent development and inclusion for NBC Entertainment and Universal Television Studios, who oversees the network's talent pipeline programs.

“Given the sheer number of viewing hours unscripted shows make up each week, we have a huge opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the overall television landscape by forging a future for new directors in this space,” said Ahr in a statement. “We want the Alternative Directors Program to not only start a path to equal representation behind the scenes on NBC’s shows, but to also kick off a chain reaction for similar efforts in the rest of the industry.”

Added Horne: “Our inaugural class of seven women represents a community of experienced directors who need key decision makers to recognize their talent and provide them with opportunities. In our program, along with expanding their repertoire of alternative formats, they will forge critical relationships with the best in the business who can serve as advocates for the rest of their careers.”

NBC launched the Alternative Directors Program in May alongside the NBCU Casting Apprentice and Writers on the Verge programs. In order to be eligible, the participants had to have one directing credit in unscripted or scripted television.