Back to IndieWire

Women and People of Color Directed More TV Than Ever This Season, and It Didn’t Cost White Men Any Work

According to a DGA study released Tuesday, more TV in general means more opportunities.

The Handmaid's Tale  -- "Offred" -- Episode 101 -- Offred, one the few fertile women known as Handmaids in the oppressive Republic of Gilead, struggles to survive as a reproductive surrogate for a powerful Commander and his resentful wife. Behind the scenes with Moira (Samira Wiley) and Reed Morano, shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

Reed Morano directing “The Handmaid’s Tale.”


There are plenty of upsides to the increase in television being made recently, and here’s a big one: More episodes means more opportunities for women and people of color behind the camera.

According to a study released today by the Director’s Guild of America, over the course of the 2016-2017 season there were 4,482 episodes of television produced under DGA contracts in the 2016-2017 season. This represents a 10 percent increase over last year, but more importantly that volume led to an increase in minority hiring for these shows.

The number of episodes directed by minorities in the 2016-2017 season was a 28 percent increase over last year, leaping from 783 episodes to 1,006 episodes. In addition, 205 individual minority directors found themselves working this year, a 46 percent increase over 2015-2016.

Women directed 955 episodes – 253 more episodes than in the 2015-2016 season (a 36% increase). The total number of individual women directors employed in episodic television grew 45% to 262 (up from 180 in the 2015-2016 season).

(For the record, none of this came at the expense of Caucasian males getting work. The number of episodes they directed increased from 2,717 to 2,749, and the number of individual Caucasian male directors employed grew five percent to 757.)

In all, this creates a picture of greater diversity than we’ve ever seen before:

With the top 10 networks for diversity hiring being, as ranked below:

In looking at the numbers, there are some key things to remember — such as the rising trend towards a single director helming an entire season of a TV show. It’s why “Mr. Robot” (directed by Sam Esmail) and “Twin Peaks” (David Lynch) show zero percent minority inclusion behind the camera, while the upcoming “She’s Gotta Have It” (directed by Spike Lee) hits 100 percent — and all those shows technically have no women working as directors.

There are some shows which display skewed results due to their status as international productions operating outside of a DGA agreement, such as “Black Mirror.” Of the six anthology episodes set to be released soon by Netflix, only one, “Archangel,” was directed by a woman (Jodie Foster). However, she was also the only DGA director of the foreign-shot series, and thus “Black Mirror” is listed as having 100 percent female representation (out of the one official DGA episode).

It’s also worth noting that the positive signs of change haven’t come out of nowhere; in the last two years, diversity hiring initiatives have begun making real progress in holding showrunners and studios accountable for real improvement.

20th Century Fox companies topped the list of studios making real strides in this area, and by no coincidence subsidiary FX has been fully dedicated to the cause, with network president John Landgraf announcing a commitment to equal director hiring for all FX shows in 2016.

FX is also the stomping ground for uber-producer Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation, which is devoted to enabling 50 percent female and POC representation behind the scenes.

The full DGA report can be read here.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox