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Kim Nguyen directs episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as finalist in NBC program pushing for gender parity

Photo of director Kim Nguyen courtesy of NBC

By Jana Monji

An NBC program pushing for gender parity lined up fledgling director Kim Nguyen with her dream job: directing this week’s episode of the police procedural comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Female Forward is an annual initiative that aims to give female directors a pipeline into scripted television. Applicants must have directing experience in their field, but no more than one scripted television directing credit.

In 2018, the ten inaugural finalists of Female Forward program went on to direct episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Good Girls, Chicago Fire, The Blacklist, Chicago Med, Superstore, Blindspot, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago P.D. and A.P. Bio.

Nguyen is no stranger to accolades. She has created award-winning commercial work for the likes of Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Tracee Ellis Ross, Bill Hader and Chelsea Handler. The director was previously shortlisted for Best Filmmaker at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, received a fellowship to the Fox Directors Lab and was selected for the Sony Pictures Television Diverse Directors Program in 2018.

She said good prep and research are hard to beat, adding that she worked to really understand the shows she was interested in directing to prepare her application for Female Forward.

Her strategy paid off. Female Forward selected Nguyen as one of its five 2019 finalists and paired the director with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a series created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur that she already loved.

As a Nine-Nine fan, Nguyen was familiar with the show’s rhythms and zany mix of characters. She said the series’s lead character, Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) is her favorite because of his “free-wheeling” personality and ability to do well at his job despite his goofiness.

Her episode, “Trying,” has Peralta and his rule-following wife Amy (Melissa Fumero) working on an uncrackable case. Meanwhile, robotically calm former Nine-Nine captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) adjusting to a new position after being demoted, and generally incompetent detective Michael Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) searches for the love of his life.

“One of the things that I respond to is when the cast and crew like each other and it appears on the screen,” she said, adding that she’s a director who loves working with actors.

Nguyen described the set of the show as welcoming and funny, adding that it was apparent that the Nine-Nine ensemble truly loves working together.

Nguyen said she believes being a Female Forward finalist has given her “a lot of momentum” and helped generate many meetings. Soon after directing for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for example, she was tapped to direct an episode of Fresh Off the Boat, another show she loves.

To Nguyen, it was “extra special” to be a part of Fresh Off the Boat‘s last season. She said her experience through Female Forward made the transition easy by helping her understand how to prepare to direct the episode.

In the future, Nguyen hopes to continue doing episodic programs and eventually expand to direct more comedic pilots and features.

Trying” aired on Mar. 5. Visit NBCFemaleForward.com for more information on the program.

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