NBCUniversal’s 12th annual Short Film Festival celebrating diversity in storytelling has named Emmy Award nominee Lena Waithe as one of it’s first celebrity ambassadors where she will act as advocates for the festival and join the judging panel determining award winners.  In addition to Waithe, powerhouse producer Debra Martin Chase will join the judging panel as well.

The judging panel will also include NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke, Universal Television President Pearlena Igbokwe,  (Sparkle), Sakina Jaffrey, Allen Maldonado, Victor Turpin and Masi Oka. America Ferrera, Mariska Hargitay, and Chrissy Metz will also serve as the studios celebrity ambassadors alongside Waithe.

The festival also named its nine finalist shorts: Akashi, Audible Static, Couples: Movie Night, Cul-De-Sac, Emergency, Groundhog Day for a Black Man, Lost Dogs, Misery Loves Company: Pussy and Pop Rox. The finalist shorts set a new festival record for female and Asian-American representation; six of the nine finalist shorts were either written or directed by women and six of the films feature Asian-American stories or writer-directors. The finalist shorts were selected from among 16 semi-finalists shorts that were showcased at public screenings in New York last month.


Over the past decade, the annual NBCUniversal Short Film Festival has celebrated up & coming directors, writers, producers and actors, introducing them to top industry tastemakers, and has become the industry’s premiere diversity short film festival; a nationwide search for talent both in front of & behind the camera, focused on discovering the next generation of storytellers. This bicoastal festival hosts a series of events, including acclaimed filmmaker workshops, semi-finalist screenings in NYC and a red carpet awards finale at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles.

The films and filmmakers will be recognized at the finale screening and awards ceremony on October 18, 2017 at the Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood. The event is free and open to the public.

If you are interested in attending, be sure to reserve your tickets from the festival website