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TV Directing Still Dominated by White Men, New DGA Report Finds. No Real Improvement in Diversity Hiring Practices During Past 4 Years

TV Directing Still Dominated by White Men, New DGA Report Finds. No Real Improvement in Diversity Hiring Practices During Past 4 Years

Another year, another report on the lack of diversity in the film and TV industry – specifically behind the camera this time around, courtesy of the Directors Guild of America, which, yesterday, released a report on the number of non-white and non-male directors hired to direct primetime episodic television, between 2013 and 2014, and across broadcast, basic cable, premium cable, and high budget original content series made specifically for online consumption.

In its report, the DGA says that it looked at more than 220 scripted series, and 3,500 episodes, produced in the 2013-2014 network television season, and the 2013 cable television season. And here’s what they found:

  • Caucasian males directed 69% of all episodes;
  • Minority males directed 17% of all episodes;
  • Caucasian females directed 12% of all episodes; and
  • Minority females directed 2% of all episodes.  

Shocking news, right? White men still dominate key behind the camera positions within the industry.Here’s how the 2013-2014 season compared to the 2012-2013 season:

  • The percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased from 72% to 69%;
  • The percentage of episodes directed by minority males increased from 14% to 17%;
  • The percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian females remained static at 12%; and
  • The percentage of episodes directed by minority females remained static at 2%.

So, a slight improvement certainly, but maybe a bit deceptive, especially when it comes to the percentage of episodes directed by “minorit males,” which increased by 3%, but, as the DGA report states, that 3% rise can be entirely attributed to the high number of episodes directed by a single director – Tyler Perry – who directed all episodes of three television series that he also produced, again, accounting for the entire 3% gain.

Certainly the scenery hasn’t changed at all for “minority female” TV directors.

The report also shared its “Best of” and “Worst of” lists of TV show diversity hiring practices. In the “Worst of” corner, series with the least amount of diversity in terms of who they hire to direct episodes include shows that I’m sure many of you watch religiously; like “Boardwalk Empire” (0%, meaning not a single woman or minority directed an episode all season. This one is a repeat offender, because it was also on last year’s DGA’s “Worst of” list),”Hannibal” (0%), “Resurrection” (0%), “NCIS” (8%), “CSI” (9%; also a repeat offender); “The Blacklist” (10%), and more.

On the other side of the ring, the “Best of” list (shows that hired women and minorities to direct at least 40% of episodes in the 2013-2014 production cycle): “The Game” (100%!!), “Hit the Floor” (100%), “The Real Husbands of Hollywood” (100%), “Single Ladies” (100%), “Power” (75%), “The Following” (67%), “Homeland” (67%), “The Good Wife” (50%), and more…

You can check out both lists in full via the DGA’s website here.

The bar graph above highlights the lack of any real improvement in diversity hiring practices in episodic television during the past 4 years. In short, male directors still directed 86% of all episodes; white male directors directed 7 out of every 10 episodes; and women and “minority male” directors combined, still directed just 3 out of every 10 episodes. Forget any significant improvements for “minority female” directors.

For its efforts, the DGA (who really have no say over what directors are hired for jobs) shares in the report that the organization is implementing its own diversity initiatives, including negotiating diversity provisions during the collective bargaining process; meeting directly with studios, production companies, and individual shows; tracking and publicizing employment statistics; appointing prominent members to the National Board’s Diversity Task Force; supporting the Guild’s member diversity committees; supplying those who hire with lists of experienced diverse directors; and calling attention to talented, diverse voices through the DGA Quarterly magazine, the DGA Student Film Awards, and the DGA Diversity Award.

In the most recent collective bargaining negotiations, the Guild negotiated a provision requiring each of the major television studios to establish a television director development program designed to expand opportunities for women and minority directors in episodic television. Additionally, the Guild negotiated the establishment of an industry-wide Joint Diversity Action Committee, to meet at least every four months, to enhance communication and provide regular feedback on the studios’ diversity efforts as well as to address industry-wide diversity issues. The first meeting is scheduled for October of this year.

Over the past four years, DGA executives and members of the Diversity Task Force have held dozens of meetings with studios, production companies, and individual shows specifically to address diversity in hiring. At these meetings, the DGA presents employment statistics that bring non-diverse hiring practices into stark relief, and provides a contact list of experienced women and minority directors to make it easier for producers making hiring decisions.  This list can also be obtained by any production company by contacting the DGA. While not every meeting has resulted in improved diversity, the DGA is pleased to see that some shows have made a noticeable improvement following these meetings.

Additionally, the Guild’s African American, Asian American, Latino and Women’s Committees continue to hold networking events with producers, networks and studio representatives to introduce talented directors to key producers and television executives; program educational seminars; and organize tribute events to highlight the excellent work being done by diverse directors.

Check out the full report, which contains much more info breakdowns on the above facts and figures, here.

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