NBC have announced a new professional mentorship programme called Female Forward, which aims to give female directors more opportunities.
The initiative is the brainchild of NBC President Jennifer Salke and TV director Lesli Linka Glatte, and will allow female directors to take the helm amongst the company’s many shows.
Female Forward will give ten female directors the opportunity to “shadow” on an NBC series; and then direct at least one episode of that series by the end of the program’s run.
Mentoring will begin with the 2018-2019 television season, with aims to boost the ranks of the network’s overall talent pool and increase it’s diversity.
While the initiative is open to just ten shows currently, more directors and program’s are expected to join the project in the future.
Salke released a statement explaining how ‘urgently’ the programme was needed:
“It’s been a collective and urgent goal of ours to identify more female directors.”
“We strongly believe women can and should be at the forefront of telling compelling stories, and I hope the guaranteed directing component will have real impact on our shows as well as the industry.”
NBC announces the mentorship after rising pressure in other companies to increase diversity in front of and behind the camera.
Jessica Chastain recently called out CBS executives for declining to air six female-led pilots, instead opting for male-focused programming.
None of CBS’ 2018-19 new programmes feature a female lead protagonist.
Chastain took to Twitter to vent:
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) August 2, 2017
Jennifer Salke, of NBC, commented indirectly on Chastain’s tweet:
“There’s a huge drought of female directors and females across the board in our business.”
And we were really determined, after this pilot season and after staffing directors for the first season, to finally do something really actionable about that.”