I chickened out.
So I didn’t ask to direct. I was too scared. When the directors for all 13 episodes of season six were announced, I figured I had missed my shot. I’d been on this show for five seasons. I knew Brooklyn Nine-Nine like the back of my hand. I knew the way our show shoots. I knew the characters, the actors, the sets, the history, the quirks. I’d logged more than 100 episodes working with, watching, and learning from the best episodic television directors. I’d been secretly shadowing each of them for the last few years, using my time on set as a master class in directing. Deep down I knew that I could direct, except now I had blown my chance and wouldn’t get another one. At least not anytime soon.
But then NBC ordered five more episodes for season six. I felt like I’d been given another chance.
So I asked. I wrote an email—one that I read over and over before it was ready to be sent—to our showrunner and creator Dan Goor and our producer David Miner. I outlined my case for directing and told them what I knew to be true: that there are very few female directors in television, and even fewer women of color. I wanted to join their ranks.
And they said yes.
It turns out that asking isn’t the only scary part of going after a big dream. You know what’s just as scary? When you hear “yes.”
I was informed that my episode would center on Jake and Amy working on a case involving #MeToo and sexual assault. So while I felt a lot of pressure to get it right, I also felt so much trust. It gave me confidence because I knew I could prepare in a way that would lead to a smooth, even joyful, set. I could use this opportunity to give space to actors to create and play, which is what we do best. As I read the script, images began bursting into my mind and there was a fire inside me to tell the story that Lang Fisher and our writing staff had so beautifully and hilariously written. I felt full of ideas. I felt compelled to tell this story as honestly as I could. Mostly, I felt a very strange yet solid trust that the director who could do this was already inside me.