NEW YORK (February 2, 2021) – NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios today announced the inaugural Original Voices, a new fellowship program awarding six diverse documentary filmmakers $270,000 in grants every year to support feature-length nonfiction films highlighting social issues and identities.
NBC News Studios identified 50 U.S.-based emerging and established filmmakers – with an emphasis on Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations, LGBTQ+, women or people with disabilities – to apply for the fellowship. Six filmmakers, who show distinctive directorial vision, strong commitment to equitable filmmaking practices and journalistic standards, and profound efforts to showcase inclusive storytelling, will be awarded $45,000 each to fund documentary projects in all stages of production.
In addition to the grant, fellows will gain access to the resources at NBC News Studios, including vast archival research, individually tailored yearlong mentorship, story and edit consultations, festival and distribution strategy discussions, and marketing and publicity guidance. NBCUniversal News Group will also offer opportunities for fellows to connect and partner with world-renowned NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo journalists and executives. Winners will be announced at the end of February 2021.
“NBCU Academy is proud to partner with NBC News Studios to support independent filmmakers who seek out stories that reflect our increasingly diverse communities,” said Yvette Miley, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for NBCUniversal News Group. “We hope that through creative mentorship, professional support and unparalleled access to our platforms, Original Voices can help amplify extraordinary documentary films that inspire and captivate our country.”
“We can’t think of a more meaningful way to mark the first anniversary of the launch of NBC News Studios than by supporting and amplifying the voices of talented filmmakers,” said Molly O’Brien, Head of Documentary, NBC News Studios. “We are honored to have such a brilliant jury for the selection process.”
Fellows will be selected by a distinguished jury of three independent, critically acclaimed documentary filmmakers:
- Dawn Porter is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, and mental health and social justice advocate. In 2020, Porter directed “The Way I See It” (co-presented by Focus Features and NBC News Studios/MSNBC Films), a look into Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama’s presidencies from the lens of official White House photographer Pete Souza. “The Way I See It,” which premiered on MSNBC on Oct. 16, 2020, achieved the highest-rated non-news, non-live program ever in MSNBC’s 25-year history. Porter also directed “John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures), the story of the Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis.
- Nanfu Wang is an award-winning filmmaker. Her feature documentaries include Hooligan Sparrow (Sundance 2016), I Am Another You (SXSW 2017, Special Jury Prize winner), One Child Nation (Sundance 2019, Grand Jury Prize Winner), and In the Same Breath (Sundance 2021). Wang received four Emmy nominations for her films. She is a recipient of the 2020 MacArthur Genius Grant, and other awards including an Independent Spirit Award, a Peabody Award, a George Polk Award, a Cinema Eye Honor, and an IDA award.
- Cristina Costantini is an Emmy Award-winning director. Her latest documentary Mucho Mucho Amorpremiered at the Sundance Film Festival and on Netflix in 2020. The film was nominated for a Critics Choice Award and won the Best Latinx Film award from NALIP. Costantini was named one of DOCNYC’s 40 under 40 filmmakers in documentary in 2019 and is a Sundance Momentum Fellow in 2021. Her first feature film, Science Fair, won the Sundance Festival Favorite Award as well as the SXSW Audience Award, a Critics Choice Award for Best First Time Director, and an Emmy award.
NBCU Academy is a new, innovative, multiplatform journalism training and development program launched by NBCUniversal News Group. The initiative provides four-year university and community college students scholarships, education, on-campus training, online programming, funding for accredited journalism programs and access to world-class journalists from NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo. Currently, NBCU Academy is partnered with 17 academic universities, community colleges and institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and colleges with significant Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations – reaching students from underrepresented groups including those from diverse racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, economic, and geographic backgrounds.
NBC News Studios is a division of NBC News that specializes in documentary storytelling. Working with Studios offers producers and filmmakers access to everything our legacy news organization has to offer: eight decades of TV and radio archive; a global network of journalists; and rich trove of stories. Our team has decades of experience in the TV and documentary worlds and has been honored with multiple Emmy, Peabody and DuPont awards. Our recent collaboration with Focus Features, Dawn Porter’s The Way I See It, was the highest rated non-news program in MSNBC’s 25-year history and the winner of the 2020 NY Film Critics Award for best documentary.
For more information contact:
NBCUniversal News Group