Female directors make gains, minorities lag: study
Female directors are getting slightly more work in the expanding world of U.S.-based TV series and outlets, but the same can’t be said for their minority counterparts, according to a new Directors Guild of America study.
Women directed 16 percent of the nearly 4,000 episodes that aired last season, a year-to-year increase of 2 percent, the guild found.
Minorities, both male and female, directed 18 percent of episodes, a 1 percent dip, according to an analysis of episodes from nearly 280 broadcast, cable and online series from the 2014-15 season.
Both the TV and movie industries have long been under scrutiny for a lack of opportunity for women and minorities, with studies by entertainment unions and others finding that the preference for hiring white men is deeply entrenched.
The TV “pie is getting bigger,” the directors guild noted in the annual study released Tuesday, with the total of 3,910 episodes representing a 10 percent increase over the previous season.
But the video-on-demand services that are contributing to the explosion of choices are also abetting the status quo, the guild said.
Netflix, Amazon and PlayStation fielded series that appeared on the guild’s “Worst” list of 61 shows that hired women or minority directors for fewer than 15 percent of episodes.
Some didn’t hire any women or minorities for the season studied, the guild said, including Netflix’s “Marco Polo” and PlayStation’s “Powers.”
“The uptick in the number of episodes directed by women — modest but hopeful — is just a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done by studios, networks and showrunners before we can begin to realize equal opportunities in television for our members,” guild President Paris Barclay said. “With so many more episodes and work opportunities, employers should seize the opportunity for diversity with their choices, especially when it comes to first-time episodic directors.”
Of the 128 first-time TV directors hired in the 2014-15 season, 84 percent were male, up from 80 percent in the previous season — hiring that has a “significant impact” on the hiring pool over time, the guild said.
For women, the study found a 21 percent year-to-year growth rate in directing jobs, from 509 episodes in the 2013-14 season to 618 episodes in the 2014-15 window.
While there was a 5 percent increase in the number of episodes directed by minorities — to 694 from 660 in 2013-14 — that represents half the percentage increase in total episodes.
The number of shows without any female or minority directors on the “Worst” list was up 17 percent over the previous season, the study found. Entries from the U.S. cable and broadcast world include HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”; Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World”; Fox’s “Gracepoint”; Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”; and CBS’ “Mom.”
In this image released by Fox, Taraji P. Henson appears in a scene from “Empire.” The show is included in the U.S.-based television series that a Directors Guild of America report released Tuesday, Aug. 25, said made the “Best” list, with at least 40 percent of episodes directed by women or minorities.