A Conversation with Prime Time Television Directors

June 12, 2014 A Latino Committee Event

The DGA Latino Committee presented a special evening to recognize the accomplishments of Miguel Arteta, Norberto Barba, Roxann Dawson and Linda Mendoza, four of the most influential directors working in prime time television today. In an event held on June 12, these Directors were celebrated for their work on projects that span the breadth of episodic television in a variety of genres ranging from quirky comedies and hard-hitting dramas, to science fiction, mysteries and horror.

DGA Assistant Executive Director of Diversity Frank Bennett Gonzalez introduced DGA First Vice President Betty Thomas, who welcomed everyone to Theater One and spoke about the Guild’s efforts to leveling the playing field to a wider range of participants behind the camera. Thomas then turned the proceedings over to Latino Committee Co-Chair Zetna Fuentes who spoke briefly about the work of the Committee and introduced one of its founders, DGA National Board Alternate Jesús Treviño.

Treviño introduced a retrospective clip reel of the work of the Directors that included selections from Freaks and Geeks, Six Feet Under and Enlightened for Arteta; a terrifying scene from his “Mommy Dearest” episode of Grimm for Barba; a music video that incorporated clips from episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Bates Motel, The Good Wife and Scandal, for Dawson; and scenes from episodes of Go On, Scrubs and Whitney, her DGA Award-nominated special In Performance at the White House with Paul McCartney, and her feature film Chasing Papi for Mendoza.

After the video, the four came to the stage where they participated in a rousing conversation about their work and careers moderated by Latino Committee Co-Chair David Rodriguez (American Bully), after which they were presented with commemorative crystal plaques from the Committee presented by Latino Committee Co-Chairs Alicia Rivera-Frankl, and Zetna Fuentes before everyone retired to the lobby for a cocktail reception.

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Arteta studied film at Wesleyan University and The American Film Institute before his first feature, Star Maps, written and developed at the Sundance Institute Writers Lab, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997.  His other works include the Independent Spirit Award-winning, Chuck & Buck, and the features The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt and Cedar Rapids. In the television arena, Arteta’s work includes helming episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, Freaks and Geeks, Six Feet Under, The Office, Ugly Betty, The Big C, Enlightened, American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie and Getting On. He has been a member of the DGA since 1999.

Born and raised in the South Bronx, Barba spent two years at Columbia University before attending USC’s School of Cinema/Television and later becoming a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute. Since then he has directed nearly eighty hours of television including episodes of The Bridge, Lights Out, In Treatment, Fringe, The Event, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mentalist, CSI: NY and Law and Order: SVU, and the critically acclaimed movie for television Apollo 11: The Movie. Barba also served as executive producer/director on Law and Order: Criminal Intent for its sixth and seventh seasons, and currently is an executive producer and director on NBC’s acclaimed drama series Grimm. His feature film credits include Blue Tiger and Solo. He joined the DGA in 1994.

A native of Los Angeles, Dawson graduated from the University of California at Berkeley where she studied theatre and launched her career as an actress in the Broadway production of A Chorus Line and other theater productions such as The Tempest, prior to finding regular work in episodic television such Nightingales and Star Trek: Voyager. During Voyager’s seven year run she launched her directing career with an episode of that show before moving on to direct 10 episodes of the next Star Trek series, Enterprise. Her directing resume includes numerous episodic television shows such as Crossing Jordan, Cold Case, Scandal, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Bates Motel, The Good Wife and Treme. Dawson joined the DGA in 2000.

Mendoza started her career as a Production Assistant in the multi-camera/variety genre of television, working her way up to Production Supervisor on hit shows like In Living Color and Saturday Night Live, and becoming an Associate Director on shows such as The MTV Video Music Awards and several stand-up comedy and music specials. 10 years ago, she made her transition to full-time directing on HBO’s The Chris Rock Show and became one of the house directors on The Bernie Mac Show. Since then her work has included episodes of series such as 30 Rock, Whitney, Men at Work, and she earned an ALMA Award for her “Betty’s Baby Bump” episode of Ugly Betty. Mendoza’s other episodic credits include Growing Up Fisher, Go On, Crazy Ones, Bad Teacher, Scrubs and Gilmore Girls; and television specials such as four productions of The Gershwin Prize, In Performance at the White House four times honoring Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, with the latter earning her a DGA Award nomination. Mendoza has been a DGA Member since 1987.

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