For the first time ever, women and people of color combined directed the same amount of episodes as white men last season, according the Directors Guild of America’s Episodic Television Director Inclusion Report for the 2018-19 season.
Those numbers are up from 42.5% during the 2017-18 season. Of the more than 4,300 episodes of TV filmed last season (not counting stand-alone pilots), 31% were directed by women and 27% were directed by people of color. Factoring in the 8% overlap between groups (when you combine both, minority women end up being counted twice), the total number of episodes directed by women and minorities comes to exactly 50%.
“Inclusion has been a priority of our Guild for a very long time as we’ve pushed the studios, networks and producers to do better in their hiring,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme. “While change had been glacial in past years, we’re pleased and incredibly encouraged to see the recent commitment undertaken by the industry.”
Over the last five years, the percentages of women and minority directors have increased significantly — 50% and 40% respectively. Still, men and Caucasians as non-mutually exclusive groups still make up the majority. As of last season’s statistics, men, regardless of ethnicity, made up 69% of all episodic directors last season, and Caucasians, regardless of gender, still made up 71% of all episodic directors.
Of the eight largest television industry employers — Disney/ABC, HBO, 20th Century Fox, Netflix, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, CBS, and Sony — Disney/ABC had the highest diversity rates among directors, with 40.1% directed by women and 29.3% directed by minorities, while Sony had the lowest, with 26.6% directed by women and 27.4% directed by minorities (including overlap). Amazon, Lionsgate, Viacom, Paramount, and other studios that produced less than 100 episodes last season were included in the overall count, but were not ranked along with the top eight for accuracy.
The Guild also looked at how many first-time directors were hired in the 2018-19 season. Of all 4,300 episodes, 227 were directed by first-time directors. The percentage of first-breaks that went to women hit a new high of 49% last season, while 29% of first-breaks went to people of color, down slightly from last the season before.
“Producers hold in their hands the power to grant an opportunity that can set up an aspiring TV director for a lifelong career doing what they dreamed of,” said Schlamme. “And while we’re encouraged to see nearly half of first jobs went to women last year, and nearly a third went to directors of color — we still have a lot of concern over the underlying hiring practices that reduce the number of jobs available to budding and experienced directors alike. The heart of the issue is that producers aren’t factoring in that every job given to someone who does not pursue a directing career equals an opportunity withheld.”