Increase in number of TV episodes directed by women and people of color: report

The 2020-2021 television season has seen an increase in the number of episodes directed by women and people of color, according to a report from the Directors Guild of America (DGA) released this week.

The DGA’s annual episodic TV director inclusion report found that women directed 38% of the 2,691 TV episodes covered by the guild, up 4% on the 2019-20 season. People of color directed 34% of episodes, an increase of 2% from the previous season.

The film and television industry has been called for years to redouble its efforts to diversify the representation of people on screen and behind the camera. According to a recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles, it was found that American audiences prefer various castings on television.

The Directors Guild of America’s annual Inclusion Report revealed an increase in the number of female directors of color during the 2020-2021 television season. Above, a clapperboard is pictured on the set of an Amazon Prime television series on April 12, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Manny Hernandez/GC Images

While the latest report from the Los Angeles-based guild says the results demonstrate “gradual” growth for women and people of color, it says progress is lagging for Latino and Asian American directors.

According to the report, Latino directors oversaw 9% of episodes covered by the guild, while Asian Americans directed 7%. Meanwhile, 18% of episodes were helmed by black directors and less than 1% were directed by Native Americans. White filmmakers made up the majority of television directors for the season, overseeing 62% of all episodes.

Among filmmakers taking the director’s seat for the first time, the DGA report noted a 10-point gain among directors of color, who accounted for 39% of the season’s first directing opportunities. Forty-six percent went to women, a 2 percent drop from the previous season.

In comparison to TV directors of color, TV director teams were made up of a lower percentage of people of color, at around 24% for the 2020–21 season. Seventy percent of jobs on management teams were filled by whites, while Latinos and Asians held 10% and blacks 13% of team hires. Women held 39% of leadership positions, according to the report.

The DGA noted that this was the first inclusion report that incorporated an assessment of episodic television production teams. The inclusion of this data “would create an important new baseline of current studio hiring practices for the production team,” DGA Chairman Lesli Linka Glatter said in a press release Thursday.

The coronavirus pandemic impacted the industry during the television season reviewed for the report. While the assessment included data gleaned from 2,691 television episodes, the DGA said the number represented a 36% drop in content volume from the previous season.

Glatter said the DGA had questioned whether inclusive hiring efforts might “regress” as the industry grapples with the pandemic, but said that doesn’t appear to have been the case.

“Despite all of the production challenges, the good news is that inclusive hiring continued its ascent over the past year, both in overall hiring and in the hiring of new directors,” Glatter said in the release. .

Even with recent progress, Glatter acknowledged that the report demonstrates continued delays in inclusive hiring within television. She pointed specifically to the report’s statistics on Latino and Asian American directors and said of the industry in general that “the goal of a level playing field for all has yet to be achieved.”

The DGA report focused on industry hiring trends by gender, race and ethnicity, but said future reports are likely to be more expansive.

“The DGA has begun the process of identifying and tracking our LGBTQ and disabled members in 2021 and will seek to add inclusion statistics regarding both communities in future reports,” the guild said.

The DGA seized Newsweek to comments made by Glatter in the release when it was reached for comment on Friday.


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