DISNEY/ABC Announce 2014-16 Directing Program Participants

By: Aug. 14, 2014

Disney/ABC Television Group (DATG) announces the selection of ten directors and two alternate directors who will participate in the 2014-16 Disney/ABC Directing Program. DATG current programming, development and Creative Talent Development & Inclusion executives along with series' executive producers and Directors Guild of America (DGA) members collectively identified the promising candidates out of over 1,000 applications. This year's judges included producers from ABC's "Scandal" and "Castle" as well as Disney Channel's "Liv & Maddie" and "Crash and Bernstein."

The ten directors participating in the program are: comedy writer and journalist Tessa Blake (The Huffington Post), documentary director Benjamin DeJesus ("Tales From a Ghetto Klown" starring John Leguizamo); comedy director Angela Barnes Gomes ("Let's Stay Together," "Eve"); theater director Eli Gonda ("Harvey Fierstein - A Night of Scenes"); actor Devon Gummersall ("My So Called Life," "The Mentalist"); script supervisor Paula Hunziker ("Pretty Little Liars"); former News Corporation China producer Xuan Jiang, feature director Amin Matalqa (Disney's "The United"); Co-Chair of the DGA's Latino Steering Committee David Rodriguez and litePOST post-production house co-owner Kevin Sweeney. The two alternate directors joining the line-up are Editor Ishai Setton ("Glee") and DGA award-winning filmmaker John Paul Su ("The Refuse".)

Initially launched in 2001, Creative Talent Development & Inclusion redesigned the Directing Program in 2010, and has since secured over 15 directing assignments on DATG series. The outgoing 2012-14 Program Directors who secured Disney/ABC directing assignments include: actor Regina King ("Scandal," ABC); former key grip Rob Greenlea ("Grey's Anatomy," ABC); music video director Nzingha Stewart ("The Fosters," "Pretty Little Liars," ABC Family); comedy writer Maxine Lapiduss ("Jessie, " Disney Channel) and actor Kimberly McCullough ("Shake It Up!" Disney Channel). Other Directing Program alumni include Award-Winning director Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station"), Seith Mann ("Nurse Jackie," "The Walking Dead") and Zetna Fuentes ("Switched At Birth," "The Carrie Diaries").

"Scandal" Co-Executive Producer/Director Tom Verica said, "Our production is always on the lookout for untapped talent with a unique perspective. We are proud to support the Disney/ABC Directing Program. The Creative Talent Development team provides invaluable opportunities to a wide range of enormous talent. It has been our pleasure to work with several of them. We look forward to meeting the next group of talented filmmakers."

Tim McNeal, Vice President of Creative Talent Development and Inclusion, added, "Given that historically directing has been a male dominated area in the industry, we are particularly proud that our directing program has not only successfully launched the directing careers of six talented female directors, but also through the program a total of seven diverse directors have secured directing assignments on DATG series."


Allentown, PA Ishai Setton

Atlanta, GA Angela Gomes

Beijing, China Xuan Jiang

Columbus, OH Amin Matalqa

Durango, CO Devon Gummersall

Houston, TX/Aspen, CO Tessa Blake

Long Island, NY David Rodriguez

Los Angeles, CA Eli Gonda, Kevin Sweeney

Manilla, Philippines/New York, NY John Paul Su

Pasadena, CA Paula Hunziker

Trenton, NJ Benjamin DeJesus


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