NBCUniversal Launch, the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion home for entertainment television, has developed new unscripted inclusion initiatives to increase representation in key behind-the-camera roles and create lasting change.
The Unscripted Producers Program are aimed at boosting diversity by establishing a pipeline of diverse talent for unscripted series and providing participants with on-the-job experience and opportunities to grow their skill sets. Its focus is to identify and hire mid-level producers from underrepresented groups directly onto NBCUniversal unscripted shows. “American Ninja Warrior,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Password,” “The Real Housewives” franchise (Miami, New York and Salt Lake City), “The Voice” and “Winter House” are among such shows where the program is already in motion.
Jeanne Mau, senior vice president of TV programming diversity, equity and inclusion at NBCUniversal, spoke at the launch event sharing the company’s vision for the program which has been a goal of hers since she joined two years ago. NBCU continues to make a major investment in diversity efforts for unscripted television.
Said Mau, “Unscripted storytelling has the power to not only entertain but educate and most importantly expand our world of understanding. It was important that we ensure that our teams behind the scenes look like the same rich diversity of the people and stories and tools on screen.”
In addition to receiving mentorship from the show’s senior-level producing team as well as producer credit commensurate with their title, at the conclusion of their tenure, they are considered for future placement on an NBCUniversal series. The initiative has two tracks: one for lifestyle and documentary series and the other for formats and competition series.”
The Assistant Editor Initiative seeks to boost representation in post-production roles by creating a pathway for production assistants from underrepresented backgrounds to advance to the AE level.
For the Unscripted PA Initiative, candidates will be sourced from industry partners, such as the Television Academy Foundation, Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), Ghetto Film School, Streetlights, and the Amazing Stories Foundation, and will have completed comprehensive production training.
This aims to provide experienced PA talent with access to opportunities in NBCUniversal’s unscripted productions.
Rod Aissa, EVP of Unscripted Content who oversees shows including “The Real Housewives” franchise, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” and “Summer House” said working with Mau meant “she holds us accountable every day, not just once a year when the survey comes out.”
“With the steady volume of unscripted programming in our industry as well as in our portfolio, it was imperative for us to make a major investment in inclusion efforts in unscripted television,” said Mau. “Our new initiatives focused on the next generation of showrunners, executive producers, heads of departments and editors working in unscripted television are part of a comprehensive approach to improving representation behind the camera.”
The Below-the-Line Traineeship and Production Assistant Initiative will support below-the-line crew members working across scripted and unscripted shows.
The talent and casting assistant program will emphasize representation among episodic and unscripted casting directors.
NBCU Launch Programs also highlighted:
- The Unscripted Producer Database — designed to create a robust roster of diverse, experienced, and potentially available Producer talent that have worked on NBCU series and/or have been vetted by NBCU Executives or trusted Executive Producers/Sr. Producing Teams on previous projects.
- Assistant Editor Track Initiative — NBCU has forged partnerships with The Handy Foundation to identify former PAs who are eligible to be considered for Assistant Editor positions on NBCUniversal series.
- Unscripted Producers Initiative — seeks to provide lower-mid level producer talent with on-the-job experience.