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Women, Minorities Still Underrepresented as First-Time Episodic TV Directors: DGA Report

Woman and minorities are still lagging among first-time directors in episodic television, a new study from the Directors Guild of America shows.

The study, released Thursday,  found that 82% — or 501 of 611 — of all first-time episodic directors were male during a six-year span. Only 18% (110) were female and only 14% (83) were minority directors. The study period covered the 2009-2010 through 2014-2015 seasons, and results haven’t changed appreciably since the DGA released its findings on the 2013-2014 season.

The DGA also reported that 51% of female and 42% of minority first-time episodic television directors continued directing on other series — significantly higher than males at 33% and Caucasians at 36%.

DGA President Paris Barclay, a prominent TV director and exec producer on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” called on TV networks and producers to change their hiring practices.

“You can’t increase diversity in the long term without focusing on entry into the business – we challenge the networks, studios and executive producers who make all the hiring decisions in episodic television to set diversity hiring goals,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that hard, because we’ve found that when women and minorities do actually get their first breaks, they’re even more likely to continue on in television directing than the rest of the pool.”

The survey also showed that writers/producers made up 26% of the first-time episodic director pool; actors made up 20%; cinematographers/camera operators were 8%; editors totaled 5%; and other crew made up 6%. Only 27% of first-time hires were individuals who had previously directed in other genres. The remaining 8% was comprised of members of the directorial team – assistant directors, unit production managers and second unit directors.

“As it stands now, nearly half of the new hires are writer/producers or actors,” Barclay noted. “It may sound revolutionary, but those with the power to hire may want to consider bringing in more directors – people who are committed to directing as a career – instead of approaching the assignment as a perk. There are many willing, able, and experienced women and diverse directors out there – we encourage the employers to reach out and hire them.”

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