White men have long dominated the Directing For a Drama Series Emmy category. Female and Black helmers did not land first nominations until three decades after the category’s 1955 inception (Thomas Carter in 1984, Karen Arthur in 1985)
This year, for the first time ever, the majority of drama directing nominations — four out of six (67%) — went to female/non-white helmers, Steven Canals for the finale of Pose, Julie Anne Robinson for the pilot of Bridgerton, Jessica Hobbs for The Crown and Liz Garbus for The Handmaid’s Tale.
The tidal change for female representation had been brewing. After five and a half decades of just a handful of nominated women altogether, with a single instance of more than one making the list (two in 1992), female drama directors have ramped up their showing in the past two decades. This marks the fourth time since 2010 that three of the nominees in the drama directing category are women. There have been three female winners to date.
Last year, out of eight nominations, half (50%), went to female/non-white directors, with Indian American helmer Andrij Parekh winning for Succession.
Meanwhile, the progress in Black drama director representation during the late 1980s and 1990s, which resulted in 10 nominations and five wins, stalled at the start of this millennium. Canals, who is Afro-Latinx, is only the second Black helmer to land a nomination in the category since 2003. (Carl Franklin was nominated in 2014 for House of Cards.)