×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pilot Season: Female Directors See More Representation Gains

After a landmark year for female pilot directors in 2018, the 2019 season has seen further movement in representation for women behind the camera

With execs at the major broadcasters making decisions on the fate of pilots at this very moment, it’s worth noting that of the 63 pilots ordered this season across the five major broadcast networks, 25 were directed by women , or 40%.

Compare that with last 2018’s figure of 24 female-directed pilots out of 75, or 32%, and it appears that progress is continuing to be made, especially when put in context with the 2017 season which had only 9% female directors across its pilots.

The question still remains, will the progress instigated by the Time’s Up and Me Too movement and the push for female representation ever translate into full parity behind the camera on broadcast TV?

Despite two notable breakthroughs in Jude Weng and Jessica Yu, who are two of the first Asian-American women to direct broadcast pilots in TV history, the proportion of female pilot directors of color has stalled, sitting at 5 out of 63 or 8%, the same proportion as last year.

Weng directed the untitled Jessica Gao project for ABC, while Yu helmed the pilot for the NBC legal drama “Bluff City Law,” which was very recently picked up to series by the network.

The number of African-American female directors has dropped from three in 2018 to just one (Victoria ‘Vic’ Mahoney for CBS’ “Under the Bridge”) in 2019, while the number of Latina directors has also fallen from three last year to one (Eva Longoria for the CW’s “Glamorous”) this year.

Also worth noting is that of the 25 pilots directed by women this year, more than half (13) are dramas, a departure from previous years where female pilot directors were overwhelmingly in the comedy arena.

Breaking the numbers down by network, The CW and Fox tied for the highest proportion of pilots being directed by women at 50% (albeit The CW only had six pilots to Fox’s 12). One of those CW pilots is the “Riverdale” spinoff “Katy Keene,” which was directed Maggie Kiley and was picked up to series Tuesday. While at Fox, one of the more notable directors is “Russian Doll” co-creator Leslye Headland, who helmed the first episode for the untitled Annie Weisman-Jason Katims drama.

CBS has the most female directors overall, with seven of their 16 pilots directed by women. Among them is Beth McCarthy, who directed the pilot for the Chuck Lorre comedy “Bob Hearts Abishola,” and Pam Fryman, who ended up directing two pilots for the network in “Carol’s Second Act” and “Super Simple Love Story.” Fryman also directed the “Friends-in-law” pilot for NBC, which meant that the in-demand director equaled her tally of three total pilots from the 2017 season.

Meanwhile, the number of female pilot directors at ABC remained stagnant at six out of 16. Francesca Gregorini directed the much-anticipated “Hypnotist’s Love Story,” an adaptation of a novel by “Big Little Lies” author Liane Moriarty. “Life In Pieces” star Zoe Lister-Jones (pictured) was also among the female directors at ABC, as she wrote, directed and exec-produced her own project “Woman Up.”

Finally at NBC, only three of the network’s 13 pilots were directed by women, or 23%. Other than Yu and Fryman, the other woman to direct a pilot for the Peacock this year was Julie Ann Robinson, who helmed “Like Magic” with Jee Young Han and Rory O’Malley.

More TV

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Blake Jenner What If TV Show

    'What/If' Star Blake Jenner on Creating Chemistry With Jane Levy, Renee Zellweger

    Blake Jenner first rose to fame in 2012 when he won “The Glee Project” and therefore earned a role on “Glee” proper. In the years since, though, he graduated from teen heartthrob status to meatier, edgier roles in films such as “American Animals” and now the Netflix limited series “What/If,” in which he stars opposite [...]

  • Mario Lopez Candy Crush

    Mario Lopez, Seth Kurland Set Latinx Family Comedy Series at Netflix

    Mario Lopez and Seth Kurland are teaming up for a new comedy series at Netflix. Variety has learned that the streamer has given a 16 episode order to the multi-cam comedy “The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia” co-created by Lopez and Kurland. In the series, when Ashley Garcia — the world’s only 15-and-a-half-year-old robotics engineer [...]

  • HBO logo

    TV News Roundup: HBO Announces Recipients of 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship

    In today’s roundup, Fox Nation announces a fresh slate of programming for the summer and HBO announces the recipients of its HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. DEVELOPMENT: HBO has announced the recipients of its 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. The eight writers selected out of the 3,000 submissions will participate in an 8-month program of master classes and [...]

  • Big Bang Theory

    'Big Bang Theory,' 'Manifest' Among Top Live+7 Gainers of 2018-2019 Season

    With 2018-2019 broadcast season wrapping up, certain shows stand head and shoulders above their competition in the Nielsen Live+7 rankings. Live+7 data is currently available only through May 5, but the top dogs will likely see little change once the final numbers are in for the traditional September-May season. The top gainer in adults 18-49 [...]

  • Anna Kendrick Paul Feig

    Anna Kendrick, Paul Feig Team for Comedy Anthology Series at WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Anna Kendrick and Paul Feig are coming to the WarnerMedia streaming service Variety has learned that the upcoming streamer has ordered the romantic comedy anthology series “Love Life,” the first season of which will star Kendrick with Feig executive producing. WarnerMedia has ordered a 10-episode first season of the half-hour series. Lionsgate Television and FeigCo [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content