New Brand Builds on the Company’s 20+ Year Legacy of Successful Inclusion Initiatives in Television
TV Writers Program Submissions Open Today to Kick Off Refreshed Slate of Talent Development Programs
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – Feb. 15, 2022 – NBCUniversal expands its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts with the unveiling of “NBCU LAUNCH,” an umbrella brand that will house comprehensive DEI efforts across the company’s television portfolio. The brand’s purview includes the entertainment networks in the NBCU Television and Streaming portfolio – NBC, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, SYFY, Universal Kids, USA and Peacock – as well as Universal Studio Group, which comprises Universal Television, Universal Content Productions (UCP), Universal International Studios and Universal Television Alternative Studio.
Led by Jeanne Mau, Senior Vice President, TV Programming Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, NBCU LAUNCH supports the company’s goal to produce authentic and compelling content. It builds on the company’s more than 20-year legacy of successful inclusion efforts in television, previously under the banner of NBC’s Talent Infusion Programs (TIPS).
The new brand’s focus is three-fold: developing the next generation of diverse content creators through talent development programs, partnering with internal creative executives and producers to hire diverse talent in meaningful positions in front of and behind the camera across the company’s extensive breadth of programming, and strengthening the company’s meaningful partnerships with key advocacy groups and organizations.
“We united the network and studio DEI efforts to accelerate our impact,” said Pearlena Igbokwe, Universal Studio Group Chairman and Susan Rovner, Entertainment Content Chairman. “Our new joint approach will create a clearer and more seamless pathway for meaningful and lasting change at our company, and hopefully, well beyond.”
“As we scale our efforts, we have a sizeable opportunity to positively impact storytelling now and in the decades to come,” said Mau. “At this moment in our culture where there is an abundance of diverse talent with amazing stories to tell, our hope is that the progress we make with NBCU LAUNCH will create an unending ripple effect in our industry.”
With over two decades of experience in successfully running talent development programs for television, the company is refreshing its slate of offerings with more initiatives to be developed. The current programs include:
· The NBC TV Writers Program, which replaces the longstanding Writers on the Verge, is the company’s premier program for emerging diverse episodic television writers with the goal of creating the next generation of showrunners and content creators. Applications are now open on the brand’s site through March 7.
· The newly named NBCU LAUNCH TV Directors Program and existing Female Forward initiative will build on the company’s success as the first episodic directing initiatives in the entertainment industry to guarantee that program directors helm an episode in the same season that they shadow. Originally focused on NBC series, the programs have expanded directing opportunities to series across NBCU’s entertainment networks and Peacock. Female Forward will continue as an initiative for female directors while the TV Directors Program (previously known as the Emerging Director Program) will focus on ethnically diverse male and nonbinary directors. Submissions will open on March 14.
· The NBCU LAUNCH Below the Line Traineeship is a first-of-its-kind, all-new initiative that aims to create a pathway to entry-level job opportunities for underrepresented crew members across the company’s TV and film productions. The traineeship provides paid hands-on experience and mentorship across various departments, including production office, grip and electric, costume, VFX and props, with the goal of supporting participants’ entry into production employment. NBCU works with local industry partners to identify qualified candidates who are currently pursuing vocational education and training in their desired craft in preparation for a career in television behind the camera. Partners include Hollywood Cinema Production Resources (Hollywood CPR), Georgia Film Academy and New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC). Slated to roll out across numerous productions later this year, the initiative has recently placed trainees on shows including “Angelyne,” “Bel-Air,” and “Candy,” which are all produced by Universal Studio Group.
· The NBCU LAUNCH Talent and Casting Assistant Program develops diverse casting professionals in episodic and unscripted programming, adding the latter to its previous efforts in this space. During the 10-month paid program, casting assistants support NBCU’s internal Talent and Casting departments before completing the program at an independent casting office. NBCU has partnered with the Casting Society of America to identify qualified candidates who have gained foundational knowledge to become a casting assistant through the programs offered by CSA’s educational arm, Casting Society Cares.
Working with Mau as part of the core NBCU LAUNCH team are Tara Halloran, Vice President; Robert Baltazar, Senior Director; Michael Pogarian, Manager; Maggie Herman, Coordinator; Ivy Penn, Coordinator; and Jacqueline Jasso, Coordinator to Mau.