In a bid for gender parity, NBC is officially launching “Female Forward,” a program aimed at seeking out and training women directors that was first announced in August.
Starting Tuesday, the first annual program, spearheaded by NBC president Jennifer Salke in partnership with veteran television director Lesli Linka Glatter, is accepting applications from eligible women for 10 slots in the program’s initial 2018-2019 season. The submission window is open for one week, from Jan. 8 to Jan. 17 at 11:59 p.m.
“We already have some great initiatives in place for female and diverse directors. However, it’s clear our industry needs to take it to the next level,” said Salke. “It’s incredibly exciting to know that we will add 10 working females a year to the currently very unbalanced pool of working television directors. The guaranteed commitment to helm an episode, coupled with our incredible council of mentors, will make such a meaningful difference in reaching our goals to create gender parity in the director’s chair.”
Since Female Forward’s announcement in August, Salke has enlisted an advisory council of prolific TV directors to help select the inaugural class and serve as their advisers and mentors. They include Norberto Barba (Mayans MC), Ruben Fleischer (Superstore), Liz Friedlander (Conviction), Pamela Fryman (How I Met Your Mother), Nisha Ganatra (Transparent), Peter Horton (Electric Dreams), Gail Mancuso (Modern Family), Ken Olin (This Is Us), Julie Anne Robinson (Castle Rock), Millicent Shelton (Marvel’s Runaways) and Michael Spiller (Champions). Glatter will chair the council.
The initiative will give female directors the opportunity to break into scripted television. Program participants will be matched with an NBC series to shadow a director for up to three episodes, culminating with an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode of that series. Female Forward will start out with 10 NBC show during the upcoming season, with the intent of expanding the number of directors and series in subsequent years.
Female Forward will build on NBC’s current talent pipeline program, which has been dedicated to increasing representation of TV directors from diverse backgrounds for nearly a decade under the leadership of Salke’s lieutenant and senior vp programming talent development and inclusion Karen Horne.
“I am confident that ‘Female Forward’ will follow in the tradition of our legacy talent pipeline programs that, over the past two decades, have made a significant impact on diversity in front and behind the camera,” added Horne. “Our hope is that the impact of ‘Female Forward’ is felt past the director’s chair and creates a ripple effect on other behind-the- camera roles where we’re still struggling to see gender parity.”
As for eligibility, candidates should have directing experience in their respective fields, including (but not limited to) feature films, music videos, commercials, digital content and theater. An applicant can have no more than one scripted TV directing credit to remain eligible.
Among the submission requirements are: one letter of recommendation from an advocate of the director who is not a talent representative, résumé detailing directing experience, bio, reel summarizing the director’s work, up to three completed samples of work, responses to two essay questions and one additional letter of recommendation.