A man and two women looking over paperwork together. One of the women is actress America Ferrara.
2020 Values Report

NBCUniversal Fosters Diversity in Front of and Behind the Camera

NBCUniversal Fosters Diversity in Front of and Behind the Camera

At Comcast NBCUniversal, we take pride in creating opportunities in the media industry for women and people of diverse backgrounds and experiences — both in front of and behind the camera.

“Two decades ago, we began launching initiatives to identify and cultivate diverse talent for the media industry,” says Craig Robinson, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of NBCUniversal. “Today, we offer the industry‘s widest range of programs designed to build a diverse pipeline of talent, including directors, writers, actors, music composers, and journalists.”

A leading example of these programs is Female Forward, an initiative designed to give female directors an entry into scripted television. Our industry can do more to have women represented in the director’s chair, and Female Forward was created in response to that need. We believe that, collectively, we can achieve greater gender parity among directors of scripted series by systematically increasing the number of experienced women in the field.

Female Forward directors are given the opportunity to shadow current directors on up to two episodes of an NBC series, with a commitment to helm at least one episode of that series in the same season that they shadow. The program is spearheaded by Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, NBC Entertainment’s Co-Presidents of Scripted Programming.

“The Female Forward program doesn’t just give talented female directors new opportunities,” says Katz. “It sets talented female directors up for success, giving them a chance to change their career trajectories.”

The inaugural 2018 Female Forward program was so successful that eight of the 10 participants were invited back to direct even more episodes.

The Female Forward program doesn’t just give talented female directors new opportunities. It sets talented female directors up for success, giving them a chance to change their career trajectories.
Liza Katz
Co-President of Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment

Kim Nguyen and SJ Main Muñoz, from the program’s second class, directed episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Chicago Med, respectively, and were excited to see their programs air in the 2019-20 season.

“NBC’s Female Forward is crucial in creating opportunities for emerging female directors like me to begin their professional careers in television,” says Main Muñoz, an award-winning director, writer, and producer who is especially passionate about increasing Latino representation in film and on TV. “The program gave me my first TV directing job, and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. I had the opportunity to work with successful TV directors and then test my craft with an amazing cast and crew.”

Our Alternative Directors Program is the television industry’s first pipeline program for directors of unscripted TV shows. Launched in 2018, the initiative gives experienced female and ethnically diverse directors the opportunity to expand their repertoire of alternative formats (i.e., unscripted and late night shows) and complex directing styles, with the ultimate goal of hiring them as show directors on an NBC or Universal Television unscripted program.

Two women on Lilly Singh's talk show set.
Lilly Singh is blazing industry trails as the first openly bisexual person, as well as the first person of Indian descent, to host an American major network late-night talk show. ‘A Little Late with Lilly Singh,’ debuted on NBC in September 2019.

Two directors from the inaugural class were hired for their first directing roles on NBC alternative shows. Carrie Havel was the series director on the first season of the network’s comedy competition Bring the Funny, and Sharon Everitt directed on the first season of our new late-night show A Little Late with Lilly Singh.

“In just one year, the Alternative Directors Program has already proven that by giving opportunities to talented diverse directors, we can increase representation behind the scenes on alternative shows and begin taking steps to change the landscape of our industry,” says Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative & Reality Group, NBC Entertainment.

Two men sitting at a desk on the set of 'Saturday Night Live.'
In September 2019, Bowen Yang became the first Asian-American cast member of NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live.’
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