Once again, the number of television episodes directed by women and people of color bested its own record. The Directors Guild of America released its latest “Episodic Television Director Inclusion Report” and the study found that over half of episodes, about 57 percent, from the 2019-2020 season were helmed by women and POC. That figure was 50 percent in the previous season, itself a new high.
An analysis of the 4,300-plus episodes produced in the 2019-2020 season, the report found that women helmed 34 percent of episodes, as compared to 31 percent in the 2018-2019 season and 16 percent in 2014-2015. People of color directed 32 percent of all 2019-2020 episodes, a solid bump from the prior season’s 27 percent and a major uptick from 2014-2015’s 18 percent. Eighteen percent of this past season’s episodes were helmed by Black directors, seven percent by Latinx directors, and, six percent by Asian directors.
While strides are no doubt being made, the TV directing landscape is still dominated by white dudes. Of the individual directors hired in the 2019-2020 season, 65 percent were men and 72 percent were white. Sixty-six percent of episodes were directed by men, and 67 percent were helmed by white directors.
“It’s hard enough to achieve success in the competitive world of TV directing,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme. “Therefore, it is vitally important that no group should be disadvantaged when it comes to developing a career. That’s always been the driving force of our work to push this industry towards more inclusive hiring practices and a level playing field. Our most powerful tools to analyze the availability of opportunities have been these in-depth data reports. And while we see encouraging growth in some areas, we will not be satisfied until we see fairness for all.” He continued, “Inclusion is not about one group or another, inclusion means everyone.”
The DGA’s study also offers a detailed breakdown of the shows that produced episodes in the 2019-2020 season, and the demographics of their directors. Shows such as “Vida” and “Boomerang” featured all-WOC directing teams, while series like “Betty” were directed solely by white women. “The Eddy” and “The Queen’s Gambit” are among the shows that featured zero women or POC directors.
Of the 227 first-time TV directors in the 2019-2020 season, 47 percent were women, about the same as the previous year’s 48 percent. Directors of color represented 30 percent of first-timers, a slight improvement from 2018-2019’s 27 percent.
“Changing the pipeline is key to one day achieving an inclusive industry, and this data on first-time hires shows we are on the road to getting there,” Schlamme explained. “The greatest tool that producers have toward that goal is in giving a first break. But to truly achieve the potential of that power, employers must be conscious of the weight and meaning of that incredibly valuable first directing job – which is not only for the enormous benefit of the individual, but for the industry at large.”
Check out the full DGA inclusion report here.