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An Open Letter to DGA President Paris Barclay

An Open Letter to DGA President Paris Barclay

As President of the Directors Guild of America, your job is to represent all directors in Hollywood.  From what I can tell, you are a working TV director with lots of credits and I’m sure you’re very busy, but there is a crisis going on in your Guild, and in the industry, and it has to do with the lack of opportunities for women and for people of color to get jobs.

According to your Guild’s recent research, men still get the lion’s share of jobs. While more and more TV shows are being made, women directors, who number about 1,300 in your guild, still don’t have access to opportunities. Even first-time TV directors (and we know that TV jobs are the bread and butter of most all directors, especially women) the amount of women getting those gigs actually decreased last year to 16% from a not-so-whopping 20%. 

And then there were your recent comments to Vulture. The blog asked industry folks to name prominent women directors. The piece made it sound as though the only woman director people can name is Ava DuVernay. You actually named a couple more, including Betty Thomas, Lesli Linka Glatter, Jill Soloway and Dee Rees. Congrats — sincerely. Good on you for shining a line on these talented women directors. But then you said, “there’s like 15, 20, 30 others that are just available to do business right now.” That’s a problem.

You suggested that there are more qualified, talented women directors than people realize. Which is absolutely true. But do you — as the President of a Guild with 1,300 female directors ready to work — really believe that there are only 30 women available to do business right now? If you truly believe that to be the case — that just over 2% of the female members in your Guild are ready to work — maybe you should pause and consider what kind of President you are. 

I am one of Ava DuVernay’s biggest fans. I knew that she was a massive directing talent before “Selma” when the rest of the world learned of her immense talent. But while Ava’s visibility has grown since the release of “Selma,” it’s important to remember that she has only been in the public eye since the film’s release in December of 2014. That’s maybe 15 months. But the fact that people in general can only name one female director is gut-wrenching. You, as head of the Guild, should never ever diminish the potential of your membership. Would it ever be OK to say that there are only 30 men ready for business? Of course not. Yet, this seems to be a consistent perception — that women are just not competent and ready to work. You are continuing to perpetuate this myth. Your role is to combat it. 

The point I am trying to make is that the list of women directors is long and deep and it’s about time that people start acknowledging that. We all know the are upteen excuses as to why women don’t get hired to work, but it’s the job of the Guild to be pushing for opportunities for ALL members. 

One last gut wrenching thing to note: Alejandro G. Iñárritu now has more Best Directing Oscars than women.

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