NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion presents an in-depth conversation with directors Heather Jack, Kim Nguyen, Mahesh Pailoor and Dinh Thai as they discuss their experience in NBCUniversal’s landmark scripted TV directing programs, Female Forward and the Emerging Director Program. They will share their experience in the programs, provide practical advice on breaking into television directing and outline how they turned their first TV directing credit into the often-elusive second episode as well as future opportunities.
Heather Jack is a director, writer, and producer focused on comedy. Selected as part of the inaugural class of NBC’s Female Forward initiative, Heather directed an episode of the NBC comedy Superstore, and was asked back to direct the following two seasons. She also directed episodes for NBC’s comedy Sunnyside, as well as The Babysitter’s Club and Atypical for Netflix. Heather’s short film, Let’s Not Panic, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and continued its run at numerous festivals before debuting online as a Vimeo Staff Pick, Short of the Week, and screening on United Airlines. Along with collaborator Charles Rogers (Search Party), she co-created the branded web series Tech Up, which was showcased at SXSW and earned over 1 million online views. Heather started her career in feature development at MGM and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. She earned a dual MBA and MFA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and Tisch Graduate Film Program. Originally from Northern California, Heather is currently based in Los Angeles.
Kim O. Nguyen is a comedy director who was born in Vietnam and grew up in Chicago. She has worked with numerous high profile actors and comedians including Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Channing Tatum, and Emma Stone. She directs television, short films, sketches, commercials and branded content. Her latest projects include directing episodes of the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh Off The Boat, Superstore, Never Have I Ever, The Other Two, and True Story. In addition she has directed sketches for Comedy Central and commercial campaigns for Tracee Ellis Ross, Kristen Bell, Reese Witherspoon and Rashida Jones. Kim has been awarded fellowships in the television directing programs for NBC’s Female Forward, The Directors Guild of America, Fox, and Sony. She began her career as a writer for The Onion and a writer/director for MTV
Mahesh Pailoor is an Indian American filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He directed and co-wrote the independent feature film BRAHMIN BULLS which The New York Times praised as “a warm debut”. His other short films and commercials have won awards and screened at festivals and institutions around the world including SXSW, Cannes Lions, and the Smithsonian. Recently, Mahesh directed episodes of THE BLACKLIST (NBC) and is currently in development on his next feature film THIS LOVING GAZE, a sweeping love story of modern immigration set against the backdrop of a country in turmoil. Mahesh is a graduate of NYU and the American Film Institute and has been supported by Film Independent, Berlin Talent Campus, the Walt Disney Television Directing Program and NBC’s Emerging Director Program.
Dinh Thai is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. Born in Vietnam, fled to France, and finally settling in Los Angeles. Dinh’s work blends visual style with realism, focusing on comedy and drama with strong musical influences. His commercial clients include Adidas, Beachbody, T-Mobile, Toyota, and the US Navy. Dinh’s short film, MONDAY, aired on HBO and Cinemax. It has garnered 50+ festival awards, including first place in the inaugural HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries competition. Along with being an alumnus of the Disney TV Director Program and NBC’s Emerging Director Program, Dinh has shadowed on AMERICAN HORROR STORY (Ryan Murphy’s Half-Initiative), and MAYANS M.C. (Touchstone TV). He recently directed an episode of WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA (205 Visionz) for Hulu as well as season 2’s final episode of NEW AMSTERDAM (218 ‘A Matter of Seconds”). Dinh has co-written an Asian American pilot for Freeform and is actively developing his short film into a TV series while pursuing directing assignments.
Rebecca Sun (Moderator)
Rebecca Sun is senior editor of diversity and inclusion at The Hollywood Reporter, where she oversees equity and representation for the publication. She previously covered the agency business for THR. In 2019, the nonprofit collective Gold House named her to the A100 list of the most impactful Asians and AAPIs in culture, and she won a National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for her feature about a Black woman TV writers’ collective. Her bylines have also appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire China, Red Bulletin and New York, and her work has been nominated for GLAAD Media and Southern California Journalism Awards. Sun serendipitously developed a second career as a sports journalist, having served as an editor for Sportico and as a writer and editor at Sports Illustrated. A native of the Bay Area, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from NYU and a bachelor’s degree in biology and English from Duke University.