Comedian-Actor Zainab Johnson Set to Host the 13th Annual NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Finale Screening & Awards Ceremony on October 24

Presenters Include Melissa Barrera, Melissa Fumero, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Joseph Lee, Lyric Lewis, Trace Lysette, Kay Oyegun, Tess Paras, Bernardo Saracino, Mary Sohn, Kellee Stewart and David E. Talbert

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – October 19, 2018 – Comedian-actor Zainab Johnson (“Late Night with Seth Meyers,” HBO’s “All Def Comedy”) is set to host the finale screening and awards ceremony of the 13th Annual NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL on October 24, 2018 at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood. The festival which is part of the network’s talent infusion programs (NBC TIPS) celebrates diverse stories while finding the next generation of storytellers. Festival alumni include Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed 2”), Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show”), Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Simone Missick (“Luke Cage”).

Awards in nine categories will be presented to winning filmmakers by notable actors, writers, directors and TV personalities including Melissa Barrera (“Vida”), Melissa Fumero (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Akbar Gbajabiamila (“American Ninja Warrior”), Joseph Lee (“Searching”), Lyric Lewis (“A.P. Bio”), Trace Lysette (“Midnight, Texas,” Transparent”), writer-producer Kay Oyegun (“This Is Us”), Tess Paras (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Bernardo Saracino (“Midnight, Texas”), Mary Sohn (“A.P. Bio”), Kellee Stewart (“Midnight, Texas”), and writer-director David E. Talbert ( “Almost Christmas”).

This year, the festival is introducing the Next Generation Filmmaker Award presented by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion department along with the Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Content Group. This award recognizes a filmmaker who possesses a truly unique and innovative artistic vision and whose work delivers fresh content that has the power to connect, engage and inspire global audiences.

For a second year in a row, the festival will present the HARNESS Social Impact Award and the Critics’ Choice Award. The HARNESS Social Impact Award, presented in conjunction with NBCUniversal’s Social Responsibility division, will go to the filmmaker whose short best represents an important social issue. The honor stems from the festival’s continued partnership with HARNESS, an advocacy organization founded by America Ferrera, Ryan Piers Williams and Wilmer Valderrama that aims to connect artists, influencers and grassroots leaders to inspire action and change.

The Critics’ Choice Award honors the short that a jury of 25 film and television critics and entertainment writers feel is the most impactful. This year’s jury includes journalists from The Advocate, Brown Girl Magazine, Essence, CNN, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Her Campus, The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Kore Asian Media, Latina, the Los Angeles Times, Moviemaker Magazine, NewNowNext, Screen International, Slate, The Teal Mango, TVGuide, USA Today, and Vanity Fair, among others. The award will be presented by the president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Claudia Puig, who also served on the jury.

“The enthusiasm from the creative community reinforces the high demand for inclusive representation in film and television,” said Karen Horne, SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. “We are proud that our short film festival is a symbol of and catalyst for such change, and are thrilled with the caliber of our finalist filmmakers and quality of their work.”

Awards for Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Comedy, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Writer, Outstanding Actor and the Audience Award will also be presented at the ceremony.

They will be determined by a judging panel which includes NBC’s Co-Presidents of Scripted Programming Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Universal Television President Pearlena Igbokwe, NBC’s EVP of Casting Grace Wu, Vice President of Creative at Focus Features Rebecca Arzoian, and Universal Cable Entertainment VP Programming & Diversity Chika Chukudebelu, among others.

The finalists shorts, “B.U.T.S: Spanish Class,” “Kyenvu,” “Masks,” “Monday,” “Rani” and “We Know Where You Live” will be showcased at the finale screening and awards ceremony. Chosen from more than 3,400 submissions, the shorts set a festival record for female representation—both on and off camera. Four out of the six finalists were written and/or directed by women, and female characters are at the center of four of the shorts.

The finale screening and awards ceremony is free and open to the public. Tickets can be reserved here.

The NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL is presented by NBCUniversal and NBC Entertainment with title partners: Universal Pictures, Panavision, Xfinity and the NBCUniversal Division for Social Responsibility. Additional 2018 festival partners include Focus Features, Oxygen, USA Network, Bravo, Syfy, Fandango, E! Entertainment, Telemundo and Hulu, as well as industry partners including Creative Artists Agency (CAA), SAG-AFTRA, HARNESS, Tandem Productions, Final Draft, Everybody Digital, Writers Guild of America – East, Writers Guild of America – West, DGA and PGA.


Founded in 2006, the NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL is the first and only film festival created and run by an entertainment studio solely dedicated to celebrating the importance of diversity in entertainment and discovering the next generation of storytellers. The annual bicoastal program is a nationwide search for diverse talent, both in front of and behind the camera, including those from ethnically diverse backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ community and female content creators. Winners are awarded with prizes ranging from development meetings and holding deals with NBCUniversal to cash grants and industry standard software and camera packages. Festival alumni include Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed 2”), Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show”), Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Simone Missick (“Luke Cage”). For more information, visit #NBCUshortsFEST

About the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS)

Since 2000, NBC has been dedicated to discovering and nurturing on screen and behind-the-camera talent of diverse and inclusive backgrounds through the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS). NBC TIPS are amongst the most extensive and robust diversity and inclusion programs in the television industry. They feature more than 20 programs including Writers on the Verge, the Diverse Staff Writer Initiative, Female Forward, Emerging Director Program, StandUp NBC nationwide search for stand-up comedians and the NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL that celebrates diverse stories and the filmmakers who create them. Program alumni are celebrated producers, writers, directors and actors in the entertainment industry who have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards and include Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling, Deon Cole, Lil Rel Howery, Keto Shimizu, Natasha Rothwell, Danny Pudi and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. For more information, visit


Dupe Bosu,, 818-777-9356

Vanessa Pearce,, 818-777-3966

# # #