The number of female and minority first-time episodic TV directors has been gradually rising since 2009, but the majority of directors are still undoubtedly white males. The Directors Guild of America has released the results of an annual survey of the gender and ethnic diversity of directors who received their first breaks in episodic television. The study projects that women and minorities remain overlooked for first-time TV directing roles, as reported by Deadline.
As stated in DGA’s report, overall, the number of first-time TV directors has been increasing every year since 2010. As for women and minority first-timers, the percentage has continuously varied, rising most years and remaining at 23% women and 15% minorities last year. In 2009, women and minorities were both at 12%.
The numbers are indeed rising, but extremely slowly. Despite the fact that the hiring of first-time minority directors has essentially doubled from 2009-2015, DGA says the hiring of first-time minority directors “has remained flat over the last seven seasons.” The number of women first-time directors has almost tripled over the same timespan, but the guild calls it only a slight upward trend.
Bethany Rooney, co-chair of the DGA Diversity Task Force said, “To change the hiring pool, you have to change the pipeline. Year after year when we put out our TV director diversity report, the media and public are stunned that the numbers remain virtually the same. But how can it change when employers hand out so many first-time director assignments as perks? If they were serious about inclusion, they would commit to do two simple things: First, look around and see that there’s already a sizable group of experienced women and minority directors ready to work and poised for success – and they would hire them. And second, they would more carefully consider these first-time directing jobs, and develop merit-based criteria for them — with an eye toward director career development. In the end, it’s all about who is a good director.”
This report is a precursor to the TV director diversity report of the 2015-16 season, which will be released later this summer.