Over the last couple of years, the entertainment industry has been going through a bit of an upheaval. With #MeToo and Time’s Up leading the charge for people speaking up about the abuses occurring behind-the-scenes, more attention has been brought on the roles of women and directors of color in the system, and how the industry has truly been dominated by white males. Now, in a new report from the Directors Guild of America, we’re starting to see that change is happening. At least on the television front.
The overall findings show that in the last “season” of TV (2017-2018), the number of women and directors of color behind the camera has grown to record-high levels. The report states that women directed 25% of all episodic TV series, which is a 4% growth from a year ago and almost double what it was 5 years ago. Minority directors saw an finally tally of 24% of all directing jobs, which is a 2% increase from last year and almost 20% from 5 years ago. So, at least in the TV industry, the tides seem to be changing as far as inclusivity and diversity are concerned.
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DGA president Thomas Schlamme said about the findings (via Deadline), “It’s encouraging to see that the compass is pointing in the right direction, yet progress is mixed. The bright spot here is that the doors are finally opening wider for women, who are seeing more opportunities to direct television. But it’s disappointing the same can’t be said for directors of color. The studios and networks who do the hiring still have a long way to go, and we are committed to continuing this important fight.”
As you might expect, males (and white men, in particular) took the biggest hit in the number of TV directing gigs. Overall, men saw their piece of the directing pie shrink 4% from 79% last year to 75% this year. As for white men, the report found that the total number of jobs they received dropped by 355 fewer episodes to a total of 2,414. So, yes there was a decline, as you would expect, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to see more significant changes.
The DGA report also breaks down the individual studios and networks to show who is leading the charge (and inversely, who is struggling to keep up). As with most things in the entertainment industry, Disney/ABC leads the way with a whopping 51.7% of all its episodes directed by females or minorities. The Mouse House was the only studio/network to have over 50%. Fox, Lionsgate, and CBS followed in second, third, and fourth place with 47.8%, 47.5%, and 46.8%, respectively.
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Bringing it up the rear are some surprising companies. Viacom found themselves at the bottom with only 30.5%. Next are Amazon and Netflix, with 31% and 32.3%, respectively. With the amount of international fare on Netflix, especially, you have to be surprised. That is until you realize that Netflix purchases a lot of the “Originals” content and only produced a handful of series (9 to be specific).
Breaking it down even further, Netflix had the second-worst percentage of female-directed episodes with only 20.2% and Amazon was dead last in the percentage of minority-directed episodes with only 5%. To put that last number in perspective, the second-worst in the minority-directed category is Netflix, but the studio still had 14.1% of its episodes directed by a director of color.
So, as you can see, strides have been made, and TV is an industry that can normally react much quicker than film. But the DGA hopes that in the future, the numbers show a little more parity.