×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Directing Initiatives Raise Profile of Women and Minorities

The diversification of genders, ages and races behind the camera has been a major battle cry of Hollywood over the past few years. But as networks and studios lament how hard it is to find directors with varying backgrounds to work on their shows, it’s interesting to see which ones are putting their money where their mouths are.

“I do think the world is changing and it’s changing rapidly,” NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke says. “It’s critical that we bring women storytellers in our world in much bigger numbers.”
This is why Salke partnered with Emmy-nominated directing powerhouse Lesli Linka Glatter on Female Forward. Their initiative, which begins with the 2018-19 season, not only gives women directors the opportunity to shadow productions of NBC shows, but also includes an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode of those series.

The initiative was so welcome that Linka Glatter’s email box was immediately inundated with industry professionals — male and female — who wanted to nominate an applicant for one of the program’s 10 available spots when Female Forward was announced at this summer’s Television Critics Assn. press tour. NBCU will also soon open nominations for its Emerging Directors Program, which Salke says will concentrate on a diverse group of male helmers because “we don’t want to disadvantage diverse men from being a part of one of these programs.”

In starting these projects, Salke joins a growing list of Hollywood heavies using their influence to increase representation. Last year, Ryan Murphy launched the Half initiative, a program run through his 20th Century Fox TV shingle that ensures at least 50% of all directing slots on his shows will be filled by women and/or minorities. Similar to the NBCU programs, his initiative also has a mentorship component.

Maggie Kiley, an actress-turned-director and an alum of Half, says simply having the support of someone as powerful as Murphy is crucial. After all, she says, his quantity of shows means “he is in a position to hand someone an episode or really look at a candidate.”

Through Half, Kiley secured an episode of Murphy’s Fox series “Scream Queens” last year. Her credits now also include an episode of his FX anthology “American Horror Story” as well as others not in his jurisdiction such as the CW series “Riverdale” and Netflix’s upcoming “Insatiable.”
While diversity fellowships certainly help the cause, they are not immediate fixes. Alexis Ostrander has participated in six initiatives — including Half, which got her an episode of “AHS,” representation at CAA and entry into Warner Bros. Television Directors’ Workshop. But she says the bottleneck to break into the business isn’t your first episode: it’s your second or third.

That’s why mentorships are so important, whether they’re in an official capacity or not. Producers including John Wells and the late Garry Marshall famously mentored up-and-comers with potential, and Wells’ shows still aim to have at least 50% of their directors be women and/or minorities. Programs aimed at increasing women and minority presence in the DGA are set up at such places as AFI and major networks.

On a smaller scale, there’s Dan Attias, who just last year got mentee Steph Green to helm an episode of FX’s spy drama “The Americans,” promising those producers he would stay with her on set as a counsel. This season, he orchestrated a similar deal to get another mentee, Logan Kibens, to work on an episode of FX’s “Snowfall.”

Linka Glatter also often allows those trying to break through opportunities to shadow her on series including Showtime’s “Homeland,” where she is an exec producer.

“Anything that moves the dial forward is fantastic,” says Linka Glatter, herself a product of Wells’ mentoring workshop. “Until we don’t have to talk about this subject anymore, which is a time I hope we will come to, we have to be the changes that make that happen so that we don’t have to talk about this anymore.

More TV

  • CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA

    'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Renewed for Seasons 3 and 4 at Netflix

    Netflix has ordered two more seasons of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” The streamer has ordered another 16 episodes of the series, which will be split into two parts like Season 1 and 2. Season 3 and 4 will begin production in 2019. Season 2 is set to premiere April 5, 2019. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” imagines [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    How The Rolling Stones' 'She’s a Rainbow' Got a Seven-Figure Synch Renaissance

    As far as Rolling Stones chart hits go, “She’s A Rainbow” is more of a cult favorite in the band’s canon, just missing the Top 40 of Mick Jagger’s biggest Billboard Hot 100 hits of all time. But by 2018 standards, it’s suddenly become a smash — based on how many high-profile sync placements the [...]

  • David Schwimmer to Star in New

    David Schwimmer to Star in New Sky Comedy Series ‘Intelligence’

    David Schwimmer will play a power-hungry NSA agent relocated to the U.K. in “Intelligence,” a new six-part comedy series for Sky in Britain. Schwimmer is best known to British audiences for his role as Ross in “Friends,” but was recently in the news after British police posted a video of a suspected thief who seemed [...]

  • Fiona Campbell Named Controller of BBC

    BBC Names Fiona Campbell as New Head of Online Channel BBC Three

    The BBC has named Fiona Campbell the new boss of its youth-skewing online channel, BBC Three, replacing outgoing controller Damian Kavanagh, who is leaving in the new year to run Endemol Shine-owned producer Tiger Aspect. Campbell has been heading up the documentary unit at BBC Studios, the U.K. pubcaster’s production division. She also worked at BBC Three [...]

  • Rüdiger Böss, ProSiebenSat.1's Longtime Hollywood Buyer,

    Rüdiger Böss, ProSiebenSat.1's Longtime Buyer in Hollywood, to Leave the Company

    Rüdiger Böss, who as head buyer for ProSiebenSat.1 negotiated the German broadcast giant’s deals with U.S. studios for many years, is leaving after more than a quarter of a century at the company. Böss is a well-known figure in the international TV business and a familiar face at major events and markets. ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Conrad [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Romantic Comedy

    Rebel Wilson to Star in Australian Drama Series 'Les Norton'

    Rebel Wilson and David Wenham will star in Australian drama series “Les Norton.” Adapted from the novels of Robert G. Barrett, the show is presented by The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Screen Australia. Set in 1985, the series will follow the exploits of a country bloke from outback Queensland, played by rising star Alexander Bertrand [...]

  • Korea's CJ ENM Acquires Scandinavian Sales

    South Korea's CJ ENM Acquires Scandinavian Sales Company Eccho Rights

    South Korean entertainment powerhouse CJ ENM has acquired a majority stake in Stockholm-based rights-management and sales company Eccho Rights. A leading entertainment and merchandising company in Asia, CJ ENM will give Eccho Rights the resources to expand its global footprint across Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Eccho Rights has offices in Stockholm, Istanbul, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content