Change is slow, especially when the change you’re searching for is in the diversity of Hollywood creators. Despite the slowness, though, a new study from the Director’s Guild of America reports that change is in fact happening.
The DGA study analyzed more than 4300 episodes of television produced during the 2017-2018 television season and compare them to 4500 episodes from the same time the previous year. They discovered that the number of episodes directed by women had increased four points, to 25%, while the number of episodes directed by people of color had increased by only two points.
"It's encouraging to see that the compass is pointing in the right direction, yet progress is mixed," said Thomas Schlamme, DGA president. "The bright spot here is that the doors are finally opening wider for women, who are seeing more opportunities to direct television. But it's disappointing the same can’t be said for directors of color. The studios and networks who do the hiring still have a long way to go, and we are committed to continuing this important fight."
According to the DGA, the slight change in the demographics of directors can be traced to the change in hiring practices among studios. As public outcry for more women and people to color behind the camera increases, so do diversity programs designed to offer those underrepresented demographics opportunities to break into an industry that is still dominated by a majority of white men.
The study could also be broken down by studio and found that Disney/ABC, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, and CBS landed in the top four slots for diversity. Somewhat surprisingly, streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazing (along with Sony and Viacom) landed on the bottom.
This latest study complements an earlier study from the DGA which outlined an increase in the number of women and people of color who had become first-time directors on television. This increase comes as shows like Queen Sugar and Jessica Jones make an effort to hire female directors and women of color into roles usually closed to them, taking a chance on first-time directors who are then offered bigger and better opportunities.