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Top Female Directors
Top Female Directors

Female TV Directors Talk Navigating a Male-Dominated Trade

Jodie Foster, who tackled TV directing in a 2017 episode of “Black Mirror,” regrets not hiring more female crew members when she first began spearheading her own projects.

“As a director it never occurred to me to seek out women crew members,” Foster said. “I sought out the guys that I worked with, the guys that I knew that I thought were doing great work. I’m almost ashamed of that, until recently where I realized that we actually do have to make an effort.”

Recruiting more women behind the camera was a major topic of conversation at Variety‘s 2018 Directors Roundtable. During their chat, Foster, Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”), Lesli Linka Glatter (“Homeland”), Mary Harron (“Alias Grace”), Helen Hunt (“Feud,” “Splitting Up Together”), Melina Matsoukas (“Insecure”), and Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) discussed the lack of parity between men and women behind the scenes as well as ways in which female directors can correct the issues.

“For me, it’s about the conversation, and when a door opens for you, opening it for somebody else,” Matsoukas said. “I think it’s just about bringing the next generation up, and also crewing, and being very conscious of that and making sure everybody that you bring into this family has a priority to bring in other women and other people of color.”

Adlon recalled making a conscious decision to hire more women on the set of “Better Things,” while Glatter said the even split between genders on “Homeland” drastically affects the perspective on set because equal female representation on crews is so rare.

“In Season 3 of my show, I said, ‘I need a female key grip.’ There is no f—ing way that this doesn’t exist,'” Adlon said. “There are so many jobs that young women don’t know about.”

“When I started directing at BBC, there were no women,” Harron added. “It was a lot of talented but grumpy guys, and you would have to deal with an entrenched perspective.”

In order for changes to happen on an institutional level, Ross suggested altering girls’ mindsets at an early developmental stage.

“We are still fighting against a system that makes little girls grow up to dream of their wedding and not of the many, many things that they could do in the world, and how they’re going to shape their lives,” Ross said.

Watch the full conversation above.

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