Directors Guild Reports Progress in Diversity Efforts During 2020-21 TV Season

DGA annual study reports incremental gains for women and people of color in survey of television projects

iatse film set green screen
Getty Images

Despite the speed bumps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Directors Guild of America reported that slight progress was made in increasing the diversity of directors in television during the 2020-21 season.

The DGA’s latest annual report showed that 38% of TV episodes for 2020-21 were directed by women — up from 35% the previous season — while 34% were directed by people of color compared to 29% the year before. Those gains came from more opportunities for Black and Latino filmmakers, who comprised 18% and 9% of TV episodes compared to 15% and 7% in 2019-20.

In addition, the 34% share for directors of color is more than double the share accounted by the DGA in 2014, showing slow but steady progress in diversifying the directing pipeline in the entertainment industry.

The DGA has conducted this annual diversity study for more than 10 years, though this year is the first that assistant directors and unit production managers were also included in the study. There’s a longer ways to go for the latter category as just 11% were people of color with 33% women out of 201 unit production managers surveyed.

2nd assistant directors fared better at 46% women and 29% POC, while 1st assistant directors stood at 31% women and 22% POC. The DGA also provided a breakdown of the data by studio.

“When the pandemic hit, a big question on our minds was whether progress on inclusive hiring would backslide as the production environment changed radically with the implementation of necessary COVID Safety Protocols,” DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement. “Despite all the production challenges, the good news is that inclusive hiring continued its upward climb last year — both in overall hiring, as well as hiring of first-time directors.”

“That said – although there has been continued progress, the goal of a level playing field for all has not yet been achieved,” she continued. “In addition, the statistics clearly reveal this, especially for our Latino and Asian members.”

Diversity reports have become common practice among Hollywood’s guilds as the industry pushes for more inclusive practices after a century of the top roles in front of and behind the camera going to white men. This past fall, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents below-the-line workers, announced that it would begin conducting its own diversity reports, though the process through which this report would be conducted has not yet been disclosed.