Paris Barclay, now serving his second term as the president of the Directors Guild of America, has been very much at the front of the current push for diversity.
“We are continuing to turn the heat up on diversity on studios and producers,” says Barclay, who was voted to a two-year term in 2013 as the openly first gay and first African-American president of the DGA, then re-elected last year. “We are continuing to push for our members getting into the mainstream. The studios are well aware that we are clanging that bell.”
Barclay also issued a strong statement on Jan. 25 that took Hollywood executives to task for failing to take enough action to address the lack of employment for women and minorities.
“The current Oscar controversy has put a spotlight on a condition that has long shamed this industry: the lack of women and people of color across all aspects of opportunity and employment,” he said. “The Directors Guild believes that the industry and the community should be responsible for telling all people’s stories and reflecting the diverse lives we lead.”
To that end, the DGA released its own surveys on first-time hiring of female and minority directors in feature films and TV, with the latter showing a slight uptick in the number of females in the episodic category.
Barclay, one of the busiest TV directors in the business with about 150 episodes of television under his belt, including “ER” and “The West Wing,” says the 16,000 members of the guild remain concerned about creative rights and tax incentives.
“There’s a lack of enthusiasm for working in Bulgaria and we are seeing a major uptick in California, thanks to the increase in that state’s incentives,” he says. “It’s working.”
Barclay recently shot episodes of “Empire” and spent 10 months in Wales as an executive producer on the FX drama, “The Bastard Executioner,”
Regarding this year’s 68th annual DGA awards, taking place Feb. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Barclay says he was particularly pleased about the range of ambition in the five top feature nominees and in the new rookie helmer category.
“I got to call them all and some of the first-time director nominees were speechless,” he says.