Alumna Afia Nathaniel '06 Joins NBC Universal's Female Forward Program
BY Cody Beltis , November 23, 2020
Alumna Afia Nathaniel '06 was invited to participate in NBC Universal's Female Forward Program, shadowing on Chicago Med, and later directing her own episode of the series. The scripted directing initiatives aim to increase representation of female and ethnically diverse male and non-binary directors, respectively, by creating a pipeline into scripted television.
Both initiatives remain unique within the industry in that they are the only network programs to guarantee that participating directors will helm an episode of primetime television by the conclusion of the program. Program directors shadow on up to two episodes of their assigned NBC scripted series before receiving an in-season assignment to helm an episode of the same series.
Nathaniel is a Pakistani-American filmmaker who loves pushing the boundaries of narrative storytelling. Her debut feature film Dukhtar (Daughter) premiered at Toronto in 2014, becoming Pakistan’s Official Submission for Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.
The film played to critical acclaim in over 20 countries to rave reviews and became the Critics’ Pick (Village Voice) and the People Magazine’s Pick of the Week. The film has won several awards including the Adrienne Shelly award for Directors, Audience Award at Creteil, Best World Feature at Sonoma and Best Director and Best Feature Film at SAIFF.
Dukhtar was nominated for a Gotham award (2013) and the Women Film Critics Circle award (2015) for the Best Foreign Film by or About Women. Nathaniel’s screenplay for Dukhtar has been invited to be a part of the Permanent Core Collection of the Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Nathaniel graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Film Directing (Dean’s Fellow). She is an alumnus of IFP, TFI, Film Independent and Berlin Talent Project Market. She teaches directing and screenwriting at Temple University and has also taught at Princeton University (Peter B. Lewis Fellow), Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division and NYU’s Tisch.
Nathaniel is in development with several projects, notable, she is adapting the novel Watched by Marina Budhos into a TV show.