The newest diversity program at NBC is Female Forward, which will push toward behind-the-camera gender parity by providing fresh female directing talent an opportunity to direct one of the network’s in-season episodes.
Applications, which invites eligible directors to throw in their names for 10 available slots, opened Tuesday and close Wednesday, Jan. 17. According to NBC, applicants must have experience in feature films, music videos, commercials, digital content or theater and not exceed one scripted TV directing credit to their name.
Spearheading the program is a partnership between NBC President Jennifer Salke and Lesli Linka Glatter, the Emmy-nominated TV director whose work spans from “Mad Men” and “The Newsroom” to “Homeland” and “True Blood.” An advisory council of directors includes Nisha Ganatra, Norberto Barba and Ruben Fleischer.
“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,” Salke said in a statement. “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.”
NBC has a handful of talent pipeline programs in place, from diversity writing initiatives and a short film festival to those for emerging directors and comedians. Female Forward is its first gender-specific program aimed at tackling the low number of women who sit in Hollywood’s directors’ chairs.
Women and minorities have long struggled to break through in the industry. In the 2016-17 season, only 21 percent of scripted TV episodes were directed by female directors, according to a Directors Guild of America study. Broken down further, only 5 percent overall were minority females, and 16 percent were white. Still, that 21 percent marked an all-time high for females — in the 2015-16 season, the percentage of female directors was 17 percent.
In an even more telling study by DGA, in the 2015-16 season, 14 percent of all first-time scripted TV directors were ethnic minorities, and 19 percent were women.
You can find more information on Female Forward, and apply, at NBCFemaleForward.com.