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When The Walking Dead: World Beyond returns for its second season this Sunday, it'll come with an extra layer of inclusive hiring for a series that already features a rather diverse cast of characters battling the various threats of the zombie apocalypse. As revealed today by Entertainment Weekly, every episode of World Beyond Season 2 is directed by women, a deliberate decision by showrunner Matt Negrete to add more inclusion to the series' staff.
The 10 episodes of the second season are divided among four directors, three of whom have previous experience in The Walking Dead franchise. World Beyond Season 1 director Loren Yaconelli returns for Season 2 to direct both the first two and the last two episodes, while the middle are divided up between Aisha Tyler (who previously directed Fear The Walking Dead), Heather Capiello (who also had previous Fear directing experience), and Lily Mariye (who past TV work includes The Terror, Stumptown, and Prodigal Son).
For Negrete, the decision to hire more women this time around began as making up for failing to meet that goal in Season 1, then grew to surpass the initial aim of getting women to helm half of the season's episodes.
"While my overall goal was to bring in a slate of talented directors with differing voices and backgrounds that reflected the diversity of the cast, I'll say that equity was a big part of the decision-making," Negrete said. "For season 1, I'd wanted to fill half of the directing slots with women, but unfortunately, due to some shifting production dates, we ended up coming up just short of that. So for Season 2, I met with a lot of directors — men and women, from differing backgrounds and with varying levels of experience — with the goal of doing better. And when all was said and done, the directors I clicked best with were women."
He added, "Over the years, I've been in so many departmental and prep meetings that were either comprised of all men, or where the men greatly outnumbered the women, so ultimately, my decision just felt right on a number of levels. And, in the end, I think all of these talented directors brought a unique part of themselves to their episodes to great success."
World Beyond represents an interesting stylistic and tonal departure from previous Walking Dead series, in that it deals with characters whose lives have progressed in relative normalcy in the years since the world changed, then throws those lives into turmoil. The first season debuted last year and greatly expanded the show's worldbuilding, setting the stage for bigger things to come that could include connections to the larger story of Rick Grimes going forward. The show is also a departure in that, from the beginning, it was planned as a finite, two-season story, which means Negrete and his directing team needed to make these episodes really count.
"I'll say that the direction of Season 2 feels more mature and psychologically complex by design," Negrete said. "Our characters have been through a lot. They've had to grow up fast and make some very hard decisions. To that end, it was important that the look of the show reflect that growing maturity, and thanks to our amazing directors and incredible (and incredibly hardworking) crew on the ground in Richmond, I think we pulled it off."
The Walking Dead: World Beyond returns Sunday on AMC.