Launched in 2014 by Sony Pictures Television, the DGA, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Diversity & Inclusion department, and former EVP of current programming for SPT Kim Rozenfeld, the Sony Pictures Television Diverse Directors Program is geared toward providing storytelling opportunities to talented artists of diverse backgrounds.
Brett King, VP of creative programming for diversity & inclusion, has been overseeing the program since its inception.
“At SPT, we are committed to giving people with diverse perspectives the resources they need to tell their stories to a wider audience. We’re excited to usher in another class of talented directors,” says Sony Pictures Television Studios president Jeff Frost.
Fifteen out of nearly 250 possible participants were selected for this year’s episodic directing workshop, with several directors being picked to shadow established TV helmers on episodes of hour and half-hour scripted SPT series. “This program furthers our goal of building and broadening the pipeline at the studio for diverse talent and new voices,” says Paul Martin, chief diversity officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment. “The Diverse Directors Program has always been about identifying opportunities for growth on both ends – for the studio and for the talent we discover.”
This year’s entrants include Maria Burton (“A Sort of Homecoming”); Darien Sills-Evans (“Third Watch,” “Treme”); Amir Farhang (“The Return”); Jeannette Godoy (“Free 2 Be Me”); Tiffanie Hsu (HBO Visionary award winner for short “Wonderland”); Nora Kirkpatrick (“Virtually Mike and Nora,” “Door No. 1”); X. Dean Lim (director of 1,200 episodes of reality and unscripted television); Stephanie Martin (“Berlin, I Love You”); Kim Nguyen (“Santa Land”); Leena Pendharkar (“20 Weeks”); Lynda Reiss (ex-property master and director of short “Ready to Go”); Ryan Richmond (“Money Matters”); Mel Rodriguez III (“Stereo”); Charissa Sanjarernsuithikul (former editor and director of short “Playing It Straight”); and James Sims (former SPT senior script clearance analyst turned director).
Notable alumni include Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Pete Chatmon (“Atypical,” “Black-ish,” “Insecure”) Solvan Naim (“The Get Down,” “The Blacklist”), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (“Luke Cage,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Underground”) and Aneesh Chaganty (“Searching”).
“The program is incredibly important and extremely helpful with building serious industry relationships,” says Chatmon. “It’s important to have new voices supported as that helps to enhance the shows.”
Naim calls the directors program “essential to building a career because you’re working with successful showrunners and producers. Make sure you reach out to everyone who can help along the way and do your due diligence.”