NBC has announced its inaugural class for Female Forward, the network’s annual initiative launched with the aim of giving female directors a pipeline into scripted television. Founded last year by then-president Jennifer Salke (who is now at Apple), the program is dedicated to “systematically increasing the number of qualified women in the field,” and “gives eligible female directors the opportunity to shadow up to three episodes of an NBC series, culminating in an in-season commitment for each participant to direct at least one episode of the series she shadows,” according to a a press release.
What really sets this program apart is the fact that these directors are actually getting the opportunity to step behind the camera and get a credit on a major network series.
NBC teamed up with “Homeland” director Lesli Linka Glatter and an advisory council of established helmers including Liz Friedlander (“Jessica Jones”), Pamela Fryman (“One Day at a Time”), and Nisha Ganatra to serve as the upcomers’ advisors and mentors throughout the program.
Chosen from more than 1,000 applicants, the 10 directors chosen as finalists and the NBC series on which they have been paired are Rebecca Addelman (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Daniela De Carlo (“Chicago Med”), Lee Friedlander (“Good Girls”), Heather Jack (“Superstore”), Katie Locke O’Brien (“A.P. Bio”), Ramaa Mosley (“Blindspot”), Olivia Newman (“Chicago Fire”), Monica Raymund (“Law & Order: SVU”), Lisa Robinson (“The Blacklist”) and Christine Swanson (“Chicago P.D.”).
“As executives who have consistently been working to get more female directors on our shows, it’s so meaningful that one of our first big acts as co-presidents is to officially welcome this inaugural class of talented directors to the NBC family,” said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Co-Presidents, Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment. “What makes this moment even more significant is the realization that by next season our colleagues across the industry will have a larger pool of experienced women to choose from as they are staffing their shows, and that number will multiply as the program culminates year after year. Our goal is to completely eliminate the often-heard excuse – which we strongly believe simply isn’t true – that the reason there isn’t parity in the field is that there aren’t enough qualified women, and we feel confident that this program will begin to change that narrative.”
Karen Horne, Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development and Inclusion, NBC Entertainment added, “We’ve proven time and again that our pipeline programs discover undeniable talent who bring a fresh point of view to their work, and our first Female Forward class is no exception. Diversity in the director’s chair encourages inclusion at every echelon of a production, and our hope is that these 10 women will join the ranks of other women directors who have exponentially affected change by opening doors for those who follow them not only in their field, but across our industry.”
In order to be eligible for Female Forward, candidates were required to have directing experience, whether it be in film, music videos, commercials, digital content, or theater. Finalists could have no more than one scripted television directing credit.
Mosley has directed hundreds of commercials and her feature debut, Juno Temple-starrer “The Brass Depot,” made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Best known as playing Gabriela Dawson on “Chicago Fire,” Raymund directed “Tanya,” an award-winning short. Addelman was a writer and producer on “New Girl” who made her feature debut with this year’s “Paper Year.”
“Directing is not an easy road for anyone, but it should be an equal playing field and for the first time, I truly feel that we are at a tipping point,” said Glatter. “I am hopeful that there will be a time in the near future when this is no longer an issue. Female Forward offering qualified and talented women directors the chance to not only to shadow, but to actually direct an episode is a game changer. I’m so excited about this inaugural group of directors and can’t wait to see them at work.”
Bios for the finalists can be found below, courtesy of NBC.
REBECCA ADDELMAN – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Rebecca Addelman is a writer-producer and director who hails from Ottawa, Canada.
After moving to the United States, she honed her passion for writing while working as a producer and writer for “New Girl,” “Love,” “Ghosted” and “China, IL,” among others.
Her pilot for TV Land, a reimagining of the “First Wives Club,” was produced in 2016. Soon after, the Toronto International Film Festival screened her directorial debut, the short film “The Smoke” which she also wrote. A year later, Addelman wrote and directed her first feature, “Paper Year,” starring Eve Hewson, Hamish Linklater and Andie MacDowell. She is based in Los Angeles and is represented by Mosaic and UTA.
DANIELA DE CARLO – “Chicago Med”
Argentinian native Daniela De Carlo learned the art of directing while working with some of the most recognized names in the industry including Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, David E. Kelley, the Weitz brothers, Forest Whitaker and Tony Scott.
In 2010, she co-directed the feature film “Qualquer Gato Vira-Lata” which had a wide theatrical release and opened to unprecedented box office success. A year later, she was one of the six directors who helmed “Blue Lips,” a multi-narrative drama shot in six countries. De Carlo’s most recent work includes the short “When We Were in Nice,” the documentary short “On the Brink” and two docu-webseries “Growing Up Derby” and “Inspiring Women,” produced under her 2Fridas seal.
De Carlo’s first auteur feature, the improv ensemble drama “The Blackout,” is in post- production and will be released in 2019. She is currently developing several film and TV projects including “Cherry on Top,” a coming-of-age series; dramedies “New Grit” and “Uplyfted”; and emotional family drama feature film “Mother of Mist.” De Carlo is based in Los Angeles.
LEE FRIEDLANDER – “Good Girls”
Writer-director-producer Lee Friedlander discovered that she preferred working behind the scenes after a nascent acting career in regional and off-Broadway theater.
Her venture into directing and producing have amassed her numerous film and TV movie credits. In 2008, her award-winning short, “The Ten Rules: A Lesbian Survival Guide” formed the basis of the Logo television series “Exes & Ohs,” a half-hour single-camera comedy about lesbian dating. Friedlander co-created, executive produced and directed the pilot, which aired for two seasons and was nominated for several GLAAD Awards. She also helmed feature films including dramedy “Girl Play,” action comedy “Wasabi Tuna” and screwball comedy “Out at the Wedding.”
Friedlander has worked extensively in the television long-form world, including directing four Lifetime films, “Babysitters Black Book,” “Double Daddy,” “A Giftwrapped Christmas” and “Killer Coach.” In addition, she directed “Once Upon a Date” and “Tomboy” for Larry Levinson Productions. She has become a “go-to” producer, writer and director for The Hallmark Channel. Most recently, she co-wrote and directed “Switched for Christmas” based on her original idea. The film, that premiered last year starring Candace Cameron Bure, debuted as one of the most watched telecast in the network’s history. Friedlander also co-wrote and directed romantic comedy, “All For Love” starring Sara Rue and executive produced “Snow Bride” and “Ice Sculpture Christmas” for the network.
Friedlander is attached to produce and direct a powerful true story drama, “Greene VS Sonoma County,” a heart-wrenching story of elder abuse, discrimination and love that she pursued and secured the underlying rights to the principals. She then partnered with acclaimed screenwriter Kelly Masterson (“Before the Devil Knows Your Dead”) who wrote the script on spec, and they are packaging. Friedlander also serves on panels, consults on films and teaches acting seminars. She is represented by Summit Talent & Literary Agency and Plumeria Entertainment Management.
HEATHER JACK – “Superstore”
Independent filmmaker Heather Jack started her career in feature development at MGM and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, where she worked on “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “G-Force” and “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.”
She honed her knack for comedic directing with her short film, “Let’s Not Panic.” The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and later screened at numerous festivals including the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Mill Valley Film Festival before debuting online as a Vimeo Staff Pick and Short of the Week.
She later ventured into branded entertainment where she draws from her narrative background to create fun digital content for clients including MTV, Vice, Comedy Central, VH1, IFC, Subway, CollegeHumor, L’Oreal, Vita Coco and the I Love New York tourism campaign. Her other successful projects have included “Tech Up,” a branded web series she co-created that was showcased at SXSW, and a PSA for Lean In co-branded with Funny or Die and Hulu, that she directed and was shared online by Serena Williams, Emma Watson and Amy Schumer.
Jack received both her MBA and MFA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and Tisch Graduate Film Program. Originally from Northern California, she is currently based in Los Angeles, though her parents would also like to emphasize her willingness to travel for profitable job opportunities and her ability to provide you with a business card. She is represented by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
KATIE LOCKE O’BRIEN – “A.P. Bio”
Writer-director Katie Locke O’Brien got her start as an actress appearing on “Justified,” “Weeds,” “Community,” “Chuck,” “Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life” and Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here.”
O’Brien has directed short films “Lone Douche” and “Discard,” both of which played the festival circuit, and her 2018 short “Have It All” was a finalist for HBO’s Insider Comedy Short Challenge at the Women in Comedy Festival. She was also recruited to direct the pilot presentations for “Bryan Callen Saves the World” starring Bryan Callen (“The Goldbergs”) and for “Clean State” starring comedian Ismo Leikola.
As a writer, O’Brien was featured on the prestigious Young & Hungry list in 2017; compiled by major talent agencies, studios, and networks, the list features writers coming into their prime. She co-wrote and produced the award-winning festival short “The Real Truth Behind the Real True Story” with filmmaker Mike Piccirillo. The team also collaborated on the feature dramedy “The Thing Before the Thing” that will be released later this year. Additionally, O’Brien developed comedy series with IFC and ABC, and she has a new digital series in development with Blue Ribbon Content.
O’Brien hails from New Hampshire and graduated from Harvard University with a degree in English and American Literature and Language. She is represented by Echo Lake Entertainment.
RAMAA MOSLEY – “Blindspot”
Ramaa Mosley is a writer-director who made her first film at the age of 16. Over the past 20 years, Mosley has directed feature films and hundreds of award-winning commercials, building her career helming action and genuine human stories.
Named one of Shoot Magazine’s top 10 female directors, she is the founder of Adolescent Content a Global Creative Youth Studio and recently gave a TED Talk about being a teen director called “The Power of Adolescent Directors.”
Mosley has a passion for sci-fi and action films, as well as a deep love of comic books. She directed her debut feature film, based on the original comic book she co-wrote entitled “The Brass Teapot” starring Juno Temple. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, was distributed by Magnolia Pictures and in 2015 was nominated for the International Critics Award and Saturn Award.
In 2014, Mosley directed the Afghan segment of “Girl Rising” which was nominated for Outstanding Documentary at the Image Award. Since then, she has been a vocal advocate for girls and women’s rights around the world, launching the U.S. social media campaign behind Bring Back Our Girls.
Mosley’s second feature film which she directed and co-wrote, the dramatic thriller “Tatterdemalion” aka “Lost Child” will be released theatrically in September 2018. Shot in the Ozarks, the film stars Levin Rambin, Taylor John Smith and Jim Parrack.
Mosley is based in Los Angeles and represented by Lichter Grossman Nichols.
OLIVIA NEWMAN – “Chicago Fire”
Writer-director Olivia Newman’s debut feature film, “First Match,” was named one of the most anticipated American films of 2018 by Filmmaker Magazine and took home the Audience Award and Gamechanger Award at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. Financed by Netflix, “First Match” follows 15-year-old Monique as she tries to reconnect with her estranged father by joining the boys’ wrestling team. Written and directed by Newman, “First Match” is set in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood and stars newcomer, Elvire Emmanuelle, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Aquaman,” “The Greatest Showman,” “The Get Down”) and Colman Domingo (“Fear the Walking Dead,” “Birth of a Nation,” “Selma”).
Newman is an alumna of the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs, and the recipient of the IFP/ Durga Foundation Filmmaker Award, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Filmmaker Grant and the Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship. She has also received funding from the Sundance Institute, HBO, the Tribeca Film Institute, the San Francisco Film Society and The Caucus Foundation, as well as support from IFP and Film Independent.
Her short films have screened at dozens of festivals internationally including the New York Film Festival, Palm Springs International Shortsfest and Aspen Shortsfest, where she won Best Student Film. Her shorts have also been broadcast on PBS, Shorts HD and TV4.
Now based in Los Angeles, Newman received her BA in French and Women’s Studies from Vassar College and her MFA in Film from Columbia University. She is represented by WME and Grandview Management.
MONICA RAYMUND – “Law and Order: SVU”
Monica Raymund starred as Gabriela Dawson on the NBC drama, “Chicago Fire” for six seasons for which she won an Imagen Award for Leading Actress in a Drama. She also received a nomination for a Teen Choice Award in the category of Choice Action TV Actress.
Raymund studied at the Juilliard School where she won the John Houseman Award for her commitment and dedication. Immediately following her graduation, she went on to star opposite Tim Roth for three seasons in “Lie to Me.” She later landed a lead role in director Stephen Elliott’s feature, “Happy Baby;” a supporting role in the feature “Arbitrage” opposite Richard Gere; a starring role in the Sundance Lab musical production of “Like Water for Chocolate;” and a recurring role on critically acclaimed drama, “The Good Wife.” She guest- starred on the 200th episode of “Law & Order: SVU,” opposite Robin Williams and recently starred in “Thaddeus & Sloccum” at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre.
In 2016, Raymund directed a short film entitled “Tanya” for the Hidden Tears Project, a non- profit media company developing content bringing awareness to sex trafficking. “Tanya” won the Midwest Independent Film Festival Female Filmmaker’s Best Short Award as well as the Award for Best Direction and the Audience Award at Flicks for Change Fest. Raymund is represented by Door 24 and The Gersh Agency.
LISA ROBINSON – “The Blacklist”
Lisa Robinson is an award-winning screenwriter and director.
Most recently, she and Annie J. Howell co-wrote and co-directed the feature film “Claire in Motion” starring Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad”). The film premiered at SXSW in 2016 before going on to festivals around the world. It was later picked up by Breaking Glass for a theatrical and VOD release in January 2017. The film received excellent reviews; the LA Times called it “a quietly, affecting psychological mystery,” and RogerEbert.com noted its “unique emotional and intellectual tenderness.”
Robinson and Howell’s previous film “Small, Beautifully Moving Parts,” starring Anna Margaret Hollyman, also premiered at SXSW and went on to win the Audience Award at the RiverRun Film Festival and the Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Roger Ebert called the film “effortlessly engaging,” and it was released theatrically and in all platforms by Film Movement.
Robinson’s TV credits include several episodes of the Emmy Award-winning period crime documentary series “A Crime to Remember” as well as one episode of “FUTURESTATES,” the ITVS futuristic series of sci-fi shorts that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also wrote and directed several award-winning short films that have screened at festivals around the world including Cannes-Directors Fortnight and Telluride Film Festival.
She is the recipient of the Martin E. Segal Prize, the Mitsubishi Digital Media Lab Award for Excellence, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. She received her MFA from New York University’s Graduate Film Directing Program.
CHRISTINE SWANSON – “Chicago P.D.”
Christine Swanson is an award-winning director. She has written and directed numerous movies throughout her career including the indie classic, “All About You,” that won Audience Awards at the Chicago International Film Festival and American Black Film Festival. She also wrote and directed “All About Us,” the Sundance-selected “Two Seasons” and was a writer on “Woman, Thou Art Loosed.”
Swanson helmed three original cable movies including “Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story,” which broke ratings records and became the most watched original movie in the network’s history. She received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture for her work on “For the Love of Ruth.”
A Detroit native, Swanson earned her MFA in Film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.
She is represented by the Vanguard Management Group and IPG.