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New DGA Inclusion Report Reveals Gains in 2019-20 TV Season, But Disparities Remain
- Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021
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 today 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%
A further breakdown by ethnicity and gender can be found in Appendix A.
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 American 
- 7% were Latino
- 6% were Asian American
- 72% were Caucasian
Analysis & Ranking of Television Studios 
The major studios oversaw the production of nearly three-quarters of the episodes covered in this report. Their hiring records follow.
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.
Hiring data by individual series can be found in Appendix B:
First-Time Episodic Television 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.”
Appendix A – Breakdown by Ethnicity and Gender
Episodes directed in the 2019-20 TV season by:
- African American males: 12.5%
- African American females: 5.2%
- Asian American males: 4.3%
- Asian American females: 2.1%
- Caucasian males: 43.3%
- Caucasian females: 23.4%
- Latino males: 4.8%
- Latino females: 2.4%
- Ethnicity other/unknown/unreported males: 0.9%
- Ethnicity other/unknown/unreported females: 1.17%
Appendix B – Additional Data
The series and episodes analyzed were made under a DGA agreement by studios and production companies. The report analyzed the ethnicity and gender of directors hired to direct episodic television series across Broadcast, Basic Cable, Premium Cable, and Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD). Pilots are not included in the statistics. The DGA compiled the statistics in this report using internal information and information provided by production companies pursuant to the reporting requirements of its various collective bargaining agreements. All figures in this report are rounded to the nearest percentage or tenth of a percentage.
Click the links below to view PDF spreadsheets of the full data.
Note: Included in the data are foreign series shot abroad with one or more episodes made under a DGA agreement. Only the episodes that were made under a DGA agreement were included in the overall statistics.
The DGA has been pressing studios, networks, and producers to be more inclusive in hiring for nearly four decades. The Guild’s efforts include: collective bargaining gains requiring television studios to operate TV director diversity programs; ongoing meetings with studios, networks and individual series regarding their hiring records; and publicized reports detailing employer hiring patterns. In addition, the Guild itself has initiated a variety of TV director mentorship and educational programs to support the career development of its members.
For more information about the DGA’s diversity efforts, visit: http://www.dga.org/The-Guild/Diversity.aspx
 In most cases, the ‘episodes directed’ and ‘individual director’ percentages are similar. Part of the reason for the disparity with respect to African American directors (18% of episodes vs. 11% of individuals) is that a very high number of episodes were helmed by a single director (150 episodes in the 2019-2020 season alone).
 This report tracks employment by television studios (production), as opposed to networks (distribution). Hiring decisions are primarily made by studios – even when they share the same parent company as a network which may have some approval of those decisions. Moreover, many studios also produce series for outside networks, and some studios are not affiliated with a network.