The employment of women and minority directors set an all-time record in the 2016-17 television season, according to the latest hiring data compiled by the Directors Guild of America – more evidence that the industry is moving toward more diversity in the directing chair.
The percentage of women directing episodic TV shows increased by a whopping 23.5% from the previous season – up from 17% of the shows the year before, to 21% last season. The number of ethnic minority directors, meanwhile, increased 15.8% – up from 19% of the shows a year ago to 22% last season. Combined, women and minorities directed 38% of the episodic shows this season, up from 33% a year ago – a 15% increase.
African-Americans directed 13% of the shows; Asian-Americans directed 5%, and Latinos directed just 4%. The report did not include any data on Native Americans.
The DGA report noted, however, that not all employers are equal when it comes to diversity. Nearly half (45%) of all the shows produced by 20th Century Fox companies last season were directed by women or minorities, while Netflix finished last among the top 10 companies with only 20.5% of its shows being directed by women or minorities. Of the top 10 companies, Netflix was the only company that finished – and just barely at that – in the 20% range. All the others but Fox were in the 30% range.
Combined, the top 10 employers oversaw the production of more than 75% of the episodes produced last year, the guild said.
Here’s how they ranked:
20th Century Fox companies – 45%
CBS companies – 39.8%
NBC Universal companies – 38.6%
Amazon – 38.2%
Disney/ABC companies – 36.3%
Warner Bros. companies – 36.2%
HBO – 33.3%
Sony companies – 31.8%
Viacom Music & Ent. Group Companies – 31.6%
Netflix – 20.5%
Amazon, however, led the field in the percentage of women directors (33.6%) but came in second to last with only 10% of its directing jobs going to ethnic minorities – ahead of only Netflix at 4.5%.
Netflix, at 15.9%, finished second to last in the percentage of women directors, ahead of only Viacom Music & Entertainment Companies, at 14.8%. Netflix also led all the major companies in the percentage of Caucasian male directors – 77.3%.
“While this report, and our recent report on hiring of first-time TV directors, reflect some progress overall, there are stark disparities among the major studios that raise questions about how committed to inclusion some employers really are,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme. “We want to make sure that every talented individual has an equal shot, and a path forward. But for that to happen, employers must expand their hiring processes to discover the world of capable directors hiding in plain sight. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why they’re not doing more. Even if all the right reasons are not enough for them, they should at least be motivated by the bottom line – inclusion just makes good business sense.”
Because of the ongoing explosion in the number of shows being aired in the television universe, the overall number of women and minorities working as directors has increased even more. There were 4,482 episodes in the 2016-2017 season, representing a 10% increase in total episodes since the 2015-2016 season, and a 42% increase since five seasons ago.
And with that expansion came more directing jobs for everyone. Women directed 955 episodes last season, 253 more than the year before, representing a 36% increase. Minorities, meanwhile, directed 1,006 episodes last season – 223 more episodes than in the 2015-16 season, an increase of 28%.
And the total number of individual women and minorities directing shows increased even more, meaning that the work is being spread around to more directors. The total number of individual women directors employed in episodic television grew 45% to 262 women, up from 180 in the 2015-2016 season. The total number of individual minority directors employed in episodic television grew 46% to 205, up from 140 in the 2015-2016 season.
And while the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased to 62% – down from 67% in the 2015-2016 season, the number of episodes they directed actually went up slightly, from 2,717 episodes the year prior to 2,749 last season. The total number of individual Caucasian male directors also increased, by 5%, to 757 last season, up from 723 in the 2015-2016 season.
The DGA’s annual report analyzed an all-time high of nearly 4,500 episodes produced in the 20162017 television season, up from 4,061 episodes in the prior season.
The DGA noted that its report tracks employment by television studios, which are in the production business, as opposed to networks, which are in the distribution business, “because hiring decisions are primarily made by studios, even when they share the same parent company as a network which may have some approval of those decisions. Moreover, many studios also produce series for outside networks, and some studios are not affiliated with a network.”
In September, the DGA reported that the hiring of first-time women and minority directors had also set a record, meaning that more women and minority directors are entering the production pipeline. That report found:
- That of all the 225 first-time directors hired last season, 73 (32.4%) were women, which was way up from 38 (24%) the prior season;
- That 56 – nearly one-in-four – were ethnic minorities, which was also way up from the 2015/16 season, when only 24 (15%), or less than one-in-seven, were hired;
- And that 18 (8%) were female minorities – triple the number and more than twice the percentage from the prior year, when only six were female minorities (3.8%).
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