Premium cable network and streaming service Starz has added the Alliance of Women Directors to its #TaketheLead initiative, which is intended to create more opportunities for women and people of color in the entertainment business. The partnership includes a commitment from Starz to give emerging directors opportunities to direct television.

The partnership was announced during Starz’ first #TaketheLead virtual panel discussion, held Friday, April 9.

“We’re proud of the opportunities we’ve created for female and diverse directors thus far, but know there is more we can do,” said Starz President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch in a statement. “We dedicated our first ‘Transparency Talk’ to shine a light on how important it is to have representation behind the camera, and we’re thrilled to launch Starz’ #TakeTheLead Directors Program with AWD. Since mentoring programs don’t always materialize into staff opportunities, we’re excited that this program includes a commitment to not only support, but ultimately hire talented directors who just need an opportunity to put their skills into action.”

“More women and people of color behind the camera translates to stories on screen that are more authentic and reflective of our world,” said AnnaLea Arnold, AWD’s executive director, also in a statement. “By amplifying narratives by, about, and for women, Starz is making impactful change in the industry and has raised the bar of what inclusion looks like. We’re happy to be a partner on Starz’ #TakeTheLead initiative and look forward to creating even more opportunities for women and people of color.”

AWD members can apply for directorial opportunities at Starz between May 1 and May 15 on the AWD website. Candidates will be selected through an independent process and meet with Starz original programming executives and showrunners who will determine program participants. The program will be tailored to participants’ areas of development with finalists receiving a staff directing assignment.

On Friday, Starz hosted its first “transparency talk” in conjunction with AWD, discussing what measures should be taken to increase access and opportunities for more women and people of color to direct. Panelists on the virtual session were Hirsch and Arnold as well as Mignon Clyburn, former FCC commissioner and Lionsgate board member; Liz Hilton Segel, managing partner, North America, McKinsey & Company; Tasha Smith, actress, director and acting coach; and moderator Madelyn Hammond of Hammond & Associates.

The discussion included a look at Starz’ inclusion study done in partnership with UCLA’s Center for Scholars & Storytellers.

RELATED: Starz Looks to Lead Industry on Inclusion, Diversity Efforts

Starz is hosting the monthly series of talks in order to bring relevant discussions to the forefront with organizations and members of key organizations including the ACLU of Southern California, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, California Film Commission, The LatinX House and more. The second “Transparency Talk” is scheduled for Thursday, May 13 with the series culminating with the first-ever Starz Summit, a day that will showcase the company’s creative diversity and commitment to the next generation of diverse voices.

Tags: #takethelead starz

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