The world of film and television has seen many incredibly talented and successful female directors. It is, however, a typically male-dominated industry. This can make it difficult for female TV directors to break that glass ceiling, regardless of how talented they may be.
Thankfully, networks like NBC are taking steps to give more female directors a leading production role on set. According to Deadline.com, NBC is introducing a new annual initiative known as “Female Forward.” The initiative aims to bring in more episodic female directors for some of their most highly-rated programs.
One of the reasons this initiative came about was because after pilot season ended, it became painfully clear that there were absolutely zero female TV directors employed for this hectic time. NBC President, Jennifer Salke, along with Lesli Linka Glatter, who directed many episodes of the hit series Homeland and Mad Men, saw this as an opportunity to shine a light on this issue by bringing positive change.
The new “Female Forward” initiative will kick off in the 2018-2019 television season, and will employ 10 female directors, each being given the opportunity to shadow up to 3 episodes of an NBC series. They will then also be guaranteed the opportunity to direct at least one episode of the series they shadow.
Salke is proud of the move, and praised the efforts, as did Glatter: “There’s a huge drought of female directors and females across the board in our business,” Salke said. “And we were really determined, after pilot season and after staffing directors for the first season, to do something actionable about that finally. It’s an honor to have a partner and advocate in the amazing Lesli Linka Glatter, who shares these ideals with us and has passionately acted as a mentor to other women throughout her career.”
Continued Glatter: “It shouldn’t be harder for our daughters to direct than for our sons. It should be an equal playing field. 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.”
Television directors are an incredibly integral part of any episodic production and it is definitely uplifting to see a large network working toward gender equality in this arena. Directors typically have their hand in multiple aspects of production including production music for TV and television licensing, so with so many television shows catering to a large female audience, it seems counterproductive to not have a female’s input.
The “Female Forward” initiative will be a welcome complement to the already strong Emerging Directors program at NBC. Some top names that have come out of this program include heavy hitters like Mindy Kaling, Sharat Raju, Alan Yang and LilRel Howery.