Fe­male di­rec­tors make gains, mi­nori­ties lag: study

The China Post - - ARTS -

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.

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