DGA president Thomas Schlamme vowed tonight at the DGA Awards that the guild will do everything in its power to combat sexual harassment in the industry, which he said has now reached a “tipping point.” His opening remarks at the awards show come just two days after the guild issued a lengthy statement on its procedures for handling sexual harassment complaints.

“Today we are witnessing a historic cultural shift in our industry and hopefully our society as well,” he told the black-tie crowd. “Our Guild has been outspoken about our commitment in the drive to more respectful and inclusive workplaces, which includes a world where our members and others can show up for work without any fear of sexual harassment.  As we do with all issues of importance, we are applying our best minds to help develop long-term permanent solutions. Earlier this week, we launched a resource with information about what our members need to know and how our Guild is here to help. We’re also proud to be participating in the new Commission chaired by Dr. Anita Hill, along with our sister guilds, studios, and other industry leaders, some of whom I welcome here tonight.

“On a personal note, as a man in this industry, I believe it’s incumbent upon us to listen, especially to those who have been the victims of this injustice, but we must do more than that. We must speak up! This is not just a fight by women for women, they didn’t create this problem. It’s a fight by everyone for a better world for everyone.

“Changing culture won’t happen overnight.  It never does. But what’s clear is that an important part of this effort is our continued decades-long fight to ensure the full and fair participation of women and people of color in the director’s chair. We’ve made some significant progress, but we must keep our foot firmly planted on the pedal and not let up. I truly believe we are at a tipping point and I’m optimistic about what the future holds.”

Read his opening remarks in their entirety below.

It’s my pleasure to welcome everyone here tonight to the 70th Annual DGA Awards. This is one of my favorite nights of the year because we come together for a big family dinner to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our colleagues.  And it’s been like that since the very beginning. In 1948, when announcing our first ceremony, then-Guild president George Marshall said it best: “No one is better suited to select the best-directed pictures than directors themselves.”

I couldn’t agree more and the reason it feels like a family affair is because while we recognize the breadth and scope of the work of these directors we also acknowledge the vital contributions of the entire directorial team. To all the UPMs, ADs, Associate Directors and Stage Managers – without whom we’d never get this job done – if your director wins, please come up and join him or her on stage.

Tonight also marks my first DGA Awards as President. To be honest, I’m still getting used to it. Perhaps a little ironic given a good portion of my professional career was working on The West Wing, with First Time Director Nominee Aaron Sorkin, which centered on a fictitious President who in all his strengths and weakness always tried to find the better angels in himself and others. Tragically, that doesn’t seem to reflect the current occupant of The West Wing. So, I will continue to model myself after the fictitious one!

As President, my mantra remains the same as when I was co-chair of the negotiating committee. Honor our past, stay extremely flexible in our present, and keep a keen eye on the future. That’s been the key to our recent historic gains in streaming residuals, as well as our new commercial contract, our fight against piracy, and our success in keeping production booming here in California, New York and other locations where our members live and work. And it will continue to serve this union as we prepare for the next wave of change.

And when it comes to change, today we are witnessing a historic cultural shift in our industry and hopefully our society as well. Our Guild has been outspoken about our commitment in the drive to more respectful and inclusive workplaces, which includes a world where our members and others can show up for work without any fear of sexual harassment.  As we do with all issues of importance, we are applying our best minds to help develop long-term permanent solutions. Earlier this week, we launched a resource with information about what our members need to know and how our Guild is here to help. We’re also proud to be participating in the new Commission chaired by Dr. Anita Hill, along with our sister guilds, studios, and other industry leaders, some of whom I welcome here tonight.

On a personal note, as a man in this industry, I believe it’s incumbent upon us to listen, especially to those who have been the victims of this injustice, but we must do more than that. We must speak up! This is not just a fight by women for women, they didn’t create this problem. It’s a fight by everyone for a better world for everyone.

Changing culture won’t happen overnight.  It never does. But what’s clear is that an important part of this effort is our continued decades-long fight to ensure the full and fair participation of women and people of color in the director’s chair. We’ve made some significant progress, but we must keep our foot firmly planted on the pedal and not let up. I truly believe we are at a tipping point and I’m optimistic about what the future holds.

Before we move on with tonight’s festivities, I would like to acknowledge the leadership, dedication and support of my fellow-officers and our National Board which I am pleased to point out is made up of over 50% women. And I especially want to thank our First Vice President Betty Thomas. Before I took this role, I consulted with my friend who has dedicated over 25 years to serving our Guild in the trenches fighting the good fight and her sage counsel continues to be of enormous importance to me as do all of our Board members.

To all of those board members here tonight, please stand and be recognized for the work you do year-round on behalf of your fellow members.

My Presidency last year coincided with another transition as longtime DGA executive Russell Hollander so seamlessly took on the role of National Executive Director, ensuring the continued strength and stability of our Guild. I rely on Russ’s partnership and wisdom immensely. Thank you Russ. And thanks to the incredible DGA staff you lead for everything that you all do for us.

And finally, thanks to the many members of the Nominating Committees and Blue Ribbon Directors Panels who generously gave of their time to select the best of our members’ work.  And a very special thanksto the Guru of Live Events, Don Mischer, who so graciously added Awards Chair to his growing list of Guild contributions.