NBC Announces ‘Female Forward’ Program to Foster More Female Directors

TCA 2017: The shadowing initiative will launch during next year’s TV season

This Is Us Chrissy Metz

NBC is looking to increase the number of female directors in the industry, and it seeks to do that with “Female Forward,” a new annual initiative.

NBC President Jennifer Salke announced the initiative at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday as a way to increase the number of female directors in the industry.

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,” said Salke.

The program, led by Salke and director Lesli Linka Glatter (“Mad Men”), gives 10 directors the chance to shadow up to three episodes of a scripted NBC series. After, the directors will be locked into an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode of that series.

“It shouldn’t be harder for our daughters to direct than for our sons. It should be an equal playing field,” Glatter said. “I’m truly optimistic that with this kind of commitment from the incredible Jen Salke and NBC Entertainment, we can actually make a difference.  A program like this is a game changer and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

“Female Forward” will start during the 2018-19 television season (so next year) on 10 series. The network hopes to expand that in later years.

Karen Horne, the SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion at the network, has been spearheading talent programs. Since 2000, NBC has introduced a number of programs, including the Diverse Staff Writer Initiative, the Emerging Directors Program, and a stand-up comedian program.

“It’s absolutely thrilling to help forge a path for female directors in such a meaningful way, and this new initaitive is a great complement to our current Emerging Directors Program, which has been one of our tentpole talent pipeline programs for nearly a decade,” said Horne.