Sky has selected six applicants for its new Assistant Commissioner programme, a two-year scheme designed to attract creatives from outside the traditional commissioning pool.

Sky’s new Assistant Commissioners are Sholla Caramba-Coker (Drama), Leanne Cosby (Arts & Entertainment), Ziyaad Desai (Factual), Isaac Nartey (Kids), Sabrina Parmar (Film) and Giberte Phanor (Factual). A seventh recruit working with Sky Studios’ Comedy team will be announced soon.

The new two-year programme has been designed to bring fresh perspectives to Sky’s commissioning teams across Sky Studios and Sky UK, growing the overall number of commissioners by 30% from 23 to 30.

The Assistant Commissioners will collaborate with indies and creatives across all genres to take early-stage Sky Original projects from script to screen and bring new ideas to returning formats. They’ll also be supported by the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in a partnership which will give them access to group seminars, short courses and individual coaching and mentoring throughout the programme.

Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content Sky UK and Ireland comments: “We launched our search for new voices to add to our commissioning pool last summer, and it’s great to see the range of talent coming through the doors to shake up the slate. We know that the route into commissioning isn’t an easy one, particularly at more senior levels, so we’ve made it our priority to grow and diversify the team and by extension to safeguard our ability to provide customers with world-class content.”

Cécile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of Sky Studios said: “Across all genres, but particularly within Comedy and Drama, it is critical that we commission projects that reflect and represent the broadest range of lived experiences. Through the Assistant Commissioner programme, we have been able to bring in new talent, that will help shape our scripted slate over the coming years, ensuring we continue to produce unmissable TV that is loved by all Sky viewers and the world over.”

Sholla Caramba-Coker joins Sky Studios’ Drama team led by Meghan Lyvers, having begun her career as a script runner on Holby City. She went on to work for a number of production companies including South of the River Pictures and most recently Left Bank, where she was a Development Producer.

Caramba-Coker comments: “I’m absolutely elated to join Meghan and the team at Sky Studios, during what feels like an exhilarating time of expansion. I have long admired Sky’s output, which remains unmatched by way of scale: from Chernobyl, to Britannia and Gangs of London. I look forward to working alongside both rising and established British talent, and to carving out a new identity through the flagship shows, which remain within the trailblazing Sky Studios brand.”

Leanne Cosby joins Sky’s Arts and Entertainment commissioning team led by Phil Edgar-Jones, having previously worked as a theatre and dance producer at the Barbican. She headed up the Barbican’s artist development programme Open Lab, which receives over 200 submissions each year.

Cosby comments: “I am thrilled to embark on this new journey, following a 15-year career producing and programming live performance and dance. I hope to learn and challenge myself and I’m eager to see how my experience and perspective can contribute to the outstanding work being delivered by Sky.  I never expected an opportunity like this to come my way and I can’t wait to get started.”

Ziyaad Desai and Giberte Phanor join the Factual team led by Poppy Dixon. Ziyaad has produced and directed a number of documentaries including Mother Theresa: For the Love of God, Bad Influencer and Ambulance. Gilberte joins from Blast! Films where she was a development executive, and has also worked on previous Sky documentaries including Mandela: The Struggle Is My Life, a gold medal winner at the New York Film and Television Festival.

Desai comments: “Since coming together, Poppy and the Sky Docs team have been putting out some of the most innovative and exciting filmmaking around. Working with them as a director was a pleasure, and now I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the team.”

Phanor comments: “I’m thrilled to be joining Poppy and her commissioning team.As I used to work at Sky, I know the amount of creativity, dedication, and hard work that goes into creating premium content for viewers. I’m looking forward to playing my part in bringing audiences together through the distinctive storytelling and compelling films that Sky Documentaries is known for – I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Isaac Nartey joins the Kids team led by Lucy Murphy, having co-created Sky Arts’ BAFTA-winning spoken word programme Life & Rhymes whilst working as a member of Sky’s Young People team. He has most recently worked as Sky’s Manager of responsible Productions, ensuring content is produced in accordance with Sky’s sustainability and diversity & inclusion targets.

Nartey comments: “I am so excited about joining the Assistant Commissioner scheme. A few years ago I had the pleasure of co-creating an original idea and seeing it go from concept to screen and achieve critical acclaim, so having the chance to build on that is incredibly satisfying. Becoming a Dad has been the most rewarding thing in my life, so the opportunity to join Lucy’s team to shape the content that kids across the nation consume is an exciting journey that I cannot wait to start.”

Sabrina Parmar joins the Original Film team led by Julia Stuart, having begun her career in film marketing at Universal Pictures before becoming a script editor and most recently a Development Editor for Paramount.

Parmar comments: “Sky Original Films has an exciting slate of projects and exceptional relationships with writers, directors, and on-screen talent. I’m thrilled to be joining Julia’s brilliant commissioning team and look forward to bringing the very best film entertainment to audiences.”

The Assistant Commissioner programme has been funded by Sky as part of its £30 million commitment to tackle structural inequality, support diversity and inclusion, “and use our voice to make a difference in communities impacted by racism.”

Picture: Clockwise from top left: Isaac Nartey, Sabrina Parmar, Leanne Cosby, Ziyaad Desai, Sholla Caramba-Coker, Gilberte Phanor 

Jon Creamer

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