Study of TV Directors Finds Record Level of Diversity
According to a Directors Guild of America report, 50 percent of episodes were directed by women or people of color, a huge increase from five years ago. Still, there were gaps.
For the first time, more than half of the television episodes produced in a year were directed by women or people of color, according to a new report by the Directors Guild of America.
The report found that of 4,300 episodes produced in the 2018-19 season, some 50 percent were directed by women or people of color, a record high and up from 21 percent five years ago.
Of the 3,081 episodes produced at the eight major studios, Disney gave women and people of color the most directorial opportunities; 40 percent of its episodes, which include shows like “Grown-ish,” were directed by women, and 29 percent by people of color, figures that were trailed closely by HBO’s numbers.
Looking at the demographics of first-time television directors, the report found that women made up about half, another record, and that people of color comprised less than a third, down slightly from the previous year.
Yet the guild research also found that more than half of first-time directing work went to “series insiders” — people who have different jobs on a show and are given one-off directing assignments as a perk. The report said that group is usually “far less diverse” and such staffers rarely go on to directing careers.
“Producers hold in their hands the power to grant an opportunity that can set up an aspiring TV director for a lifelong career doing what they dreamed of,” Thomas Schlamme, the D.G.A. president, said in a statement. “The heart of the issue is that producers aren’t factoring in that every job given to someone who does not pursue a directing career equals an opportunity withheld.”