- LOS ANGELES
Nearly a third of TV episodes in the 2019-20 season were helmed by directors of color, and more than a third were directed by women the Directors Guild of America announced in its latest Episodic Television Director Inclusion Report. While the shares of episodes directed by women and African Americans reached new highs, Latinos and women of color continued to be severely underrepresented despite their sizable and growing presence in the population, and employment of Asian Americans remained flat. With respect to the pipeline of first-time TV directors, the report found that some ongoing obstacles remained.
“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. Inclusion is not about one group or another, inclusion means everyone.”
Episodes directed/hiring breakdown
Of the more than 4,300 episodes produced in the 2019-20 season, the portion helmed by directors of color grew to 32%, up from 27% the prior season and from 18% just five seasons ago. Episodes directed by women grew to 34%, up from 31% the prior season and more than doubling over the past five seasons (from 16% in 2014-15).
Breaking down the data, in the 2019-20 season:
• 34% of episodes were directed by women, up from 31% the prior season
• 66% of episodes were directed by men, down from 69%
• 18% of episodes were directed by African Americans, up from 15%
• 7% of episodes were directed by Latinos, up from 6%
• 6% of episodes were directed by Asian Americans, flat with the prior season
• 67% of episodes were directed by Caucasians, down from 71%
Individual directors/hiring breakdown
The DGA report also includes the number of individual directors hired by employers last season. In other words, whether a director worked on a single episode or ten episodes in the season, they are only counted once in the below data.
There were 1,268 individual directors hired to work in the 2019-20 season. A breakdown follows:
• 35% were women
• 65% were men
• 11% were African American1
• 7% were Latino
• 6% were Asian American
• 72% were Caucasian
Analysis & ranking of TV studios
The major studios oversaw the production of nearly three-quarters of the episodes covered in this report. Their hiring records follow.
DIRECTORS OF COLOR
279 total episodes
33% directors of color
33% directors of color
32% directors of color
32% directors of color
28% directors of color
27% directors of color
19% directors of color
18% directors of color
70 total episodes
47% women directors
44% women directors
41% women directors
38% women directors
37% women directors
34% women directors
32% women directors
30% women directors
Companies that oversaw the production of fewer than 70 episodes were not included in the above ranking, as hiring patterns were less conclusive since a few episodes or a single series could swing percentages far into one direction or another. The most recognizable of those studios that were not included in the ranking were Lionsgate, Amazon and Viacom.
First-time episodic TV directors
Recognizing that inclusion cannot truly be achieved until the pipeline changes, the DGA has also been tracking and reporting publicly on trends in first-time TV director hires for over a decade.
In the 2019-20 season, employers hired 227 directors who had never directed episodic television. The percentage of these first breaks going to directors of color grew to 30% (up from 27% the season prior and just 10% in 2009), while the portion going to women was 47% (just below the prior season’s 48%, and up significantly from 11% in 2009).
Analysis of first-time hires
Last season, 105 first break jobs were given to individuals affiliated with the series in another capacity, predominantly writer/producers and actors. On the other hand, 115 (51%) were given to individuals who were hired for their experience as directors working in other genres such as features and commercials, referred to here as “career-track directors.”
Continuing career analysis
The DGA has been tracking career trajectories since 2009, and found that career-track directors significantly outpace affiliated hires in developing TV directing careers. Of the 434 career-track directors hired from 2009-2017, two-thirds went on to direct on another series (other than the one they were initially hired to direct). The percentages were even higher for career-track directors of color (77%), women (86%), and women directors of color (84%). On the other hand, just 25% of affiliated directors went on to direct for a series with which they had no affiliation – a number that continues to be a concern.
Additionally, the pools of career-track directors and affiliated hires differ in terms of diversity--with the pool of career-track directors having higher percentages of people of color and women than affiliated hires.
What was encouraging to see is that the portion of career-track director hires increased (up from 25% in 2009), and because of that increase, the pipeline is more diverse.
“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,” added Schlamme. “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.”
The DGA is also in the process of developing and refining methodology to track the hiring of members of the directorial team (assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors and stage managers). The new report will be released in the coming months.