Why Mandy Moore would make a great director

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the all-female team of film critics at FF2 Media were assigned to write about their favorite female artists. Mine is Mandy Moore.

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Thanks to the fortitude and dedication of Scripted Programming Co-Presidents Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, NBC Entertainment’s Female Forward Initiative continues to provide female directors with the same opportunities as their male counterparts, increasing the low number of women directors (21 percent in the 2016-17 season) to achieve gender parity in scripted series. Hopefully, in the 2020-21 season, they will look in their own, proverbial backyard.

When This is Us star Mandy Moore appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show (the March 12 episode before halting production for health safety), host Jimmy Fallon posed a pertinent question: “When are you going to direct?” After all, the show has found directors in its other leads, Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley, who have used their expertise on the Pearson family to their advantage behind the camera. Why not Moore? 

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON — Pictured: Actress Mandy Moore during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on March 12, 2020 — (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC)

With more than 20 years in the entertainment industry and anchoring one of television’s most successful primetime dramas, the singer/songwriter/actor/talent-at-large continuously proves her ability to craft and deliver good stories. Hopefully, when This is Us returns for its fifth season in the fall, a turn in the director’s chair won’t just be a “next time.”

Here are five reasons why Mandy Moore would be a compelling director:

1. Knowledge of the Pearson family

As the matriarch of the beloved fictional family, Moore’s character of Rebecca Pearson appears in nearly every timeline of the show: young, old and every age in between and virtually becoming the hub in the wheel of the primetime drama. (When she’s not playing Rebecca, she has three and a half hours in the makeup chair to think about her). No other actor in the impressive list of cast members appears in every era, making Moore attuned to every version of Kate, Kevin and Randall there is, was or will be. 

2. Worked with women directors

While Moore has been directed by talented men named Ken (Olin for This is Us; Kwapis for License to Wed), she has also worked with women producers in different mediums: Lauren Dukoff for her newest music video, “When I Wasn’t Watching” to as far back as Clare Kilner for How to Deal (2003). Prolific directors like Tricia Brock and Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum, too, worked with Moore on the short-lived Fox dramedy Red Band Society (2014). 

And in keeping with the Female Forward Initiative, This is Us has seen its fair share of women behind the camera: Sarah Pia Anderson (“Pilgrim Rick”), Uta Briesewitz (“The Trip,” “That’ll Be the Day”), Helen Hunt (“Last Christmas”), Wendey Stanzler (“What Now?”), Regina King (“The 20’s”), Zetna Fuentes (“Clooney”), Joanna Kerns (“Vegas, Baby”), Rebecca Asher (“This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life,” “Katie Girls,” “Sorry”), Catherine Hardwicke (“Six Thanksgivings,” “The Cabin”), Roxann Dawson (“The Last Seven Weeks”), Anne Fletcher (“Our Little Island Girl,” “Unhinged”), Sarah Boyd (“The Graduates,” “Clouds”) and Jessica Yu (“The Club”).  

3. Worked with women writers 

Some of Moore’s most successful film achievements have been products of female writers. Bringing their characters to life from text to screen, she has starred in films like The Princess Diaries (2001) from screenwriter Gina Wendkos and based on a novel series by Meg Cabot; A Walk to Remember (2002) from screenwriter Karen Janszen; the aforementioned How to Deal (2003) from screenwriter Neena Beber and based on a novel by Sarah Dessen; Because I Said So (2007) from screenwriters Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson.

And This is Us, led by creator Dan Fogelman, has a writers room with a balanced representation of women’s voices: Bekah Brunstetter (“Career Days,” “A Manny-Splendored Thing,” “Clooney,” “The Waiting Room”), K.J. Steinberg (“The Best Washing Machine in the World,” “What Now?” “Number One,” “Number Two,” “Toby,” “The Graduates,” “So Long, Marianne,” “The Cabin”), Elizabeth Berger (“Pilgrim Rick,” “Jack Pearson’s Son,” “Moonshadow,” “Déjà Vu,” “The Car,” “The Wedding,” “Nine Bucks,” “Her,” “The Pool: Part Two”), Vera Herbert (“The Trip,” “What Now?” “Still There,” “The Fifth Wheel,” “Kamsahamnida,” “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away,” “Unhinged”), Laura Kenar (“The Big Day,” “Vegas, Baby,” “The Last Seven Weeks,” “A Hell of a Week: Part Three”), Kay Oyegun (“I Call Marriage,” “The Most Disappointed Man,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life,” “A Philadelphia Story,” “R & B,” “The Dinner and the Date”), Julia Brownell (“Katie Girls,” “Songbird Road (Part Two),” “Flip a Coin,” “New York, New York, New York”), Eboni Freeman (“Our Little Island Girl,” “Light and Shadows”), Danielle Bauman (“The Graduates,” “A Hell of a Week: Part Two”) and Casey Johnson (“Storybook Love”).

4. Knows the steps

Mandy Moore could give the other Mandy Moore a run for her money, maybe not as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance but as a director whose work in music videos and live performances hone the skill of timing. While an episode of television is a monumental responsibility, timing wouldn’t seem that difficult for a performer with 13 music videos, seven studio albums, seven tours (including her upcoming 2020 Silver Landings tour), three compilation albums, two video albums and 17 singles.

5. Vast body of work

With two decades of work as a singer and actress, Mandy Moore has as proven her talents in music, movies, comedy, drama and animation. She’s played a bully cheerleader, a meek Christian, a mother, a grandmother, a wife … if Mandy Moore is able to tweak the lens on the camera that captures This is Us, her best role may be yet to come. 

© Brigid K. Presecky (3/13/20) FF2 Media

Featured Photo: Mandy Moore, Silver Landings 

This is Us photos courtesy of NBC.

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Brigid K. Presecky
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FF2 Media Vice President and Managing Editor Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.
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