On January 13, more than 150 DGA members gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles Theater 2 for a first look at a new diversity initiative which will focus on education, networking and career development for DGA members through career and craft workshops and a curriculum-based speaker series.
In his welcome to the attendees, DGA President Paris Barclay said, “Tonight we’re kicking off the next phase in diversity programs at the DGA. The pressure on industry employers to change has never been greater than it is today. It feels like we’re on the precipice of real change. So what can we all do now to ensure that our members can seize opportunity and turn it into long term careers? The number one thing we’ve heard is that there is a tremendous appetite for education, career development and networking programs to help set you up for success. Tonight you’re going to hear about the evolution and development of our new diversity programs – what we’re calling the DGA Director Development Initiative – and we’re going right into the first of a speaker series: a panel of TV director-producers from various genres discussing the craft of directing and diversity.”
Barclay introduced DGA Diversity Task Force Co-Chair Todd Holland who spoke on behalf of himself and Diversity Task Force Co-Chair, Bethany Rooney. “In our research surveying our members, we learned that the biggest challenges after you land that first job and become a member is getting that second job – and then that third as a career builds momentum,” Holland said. “That’s what we’re focused on.”
Holland introduced DGA Assistant Executive Director/Director of Diversity Frank Bennett Gonzalez, who gave an overview of the Initiative before turning the evening over to a panel discussion during which Directors Norberto Barba, Pamela Fryman, Lesli Linka Glatter, and Ken Whittingham spoke about their directing careers and the challenges they have encountered as women and minority directors.
During the discussion, Barba revealed how a Guild diversity networking event helped him to survive a difficult time in his career. Raised in the South Bronx to Cuban immigrants, Barba is currently the Executive Producer and Director on NBC’s acclaimed drama series Grimm and has directed over seventy hours of television including The Bridge, In Treatment, Fringe, Numb3rs, and Law and Order: SVU. He has been a DGA member since 1994.
Fryman, who joined the DGA in 1984 as an Associate Director in daytime serials, spoke about how she made the jump from directing soaps like Santa Barbara to DGA and Emmy Award-nominated episodic comedies such as Frasier and How I Met Your Mother. A four-time DGA Award nominee, some of her other credits include Two and a Half Men, Friends, Cybill and The King of Queens.
Glatter spoke about the importance of being a mentor and allowing fellow women and minority directors to shadow her on set while she is directing hit shows like Homeland and Mad Men, doing work that has earned her two DGA Awards. A member of the Guild since 1985, Glatter’s other episodic credits include The Newsroom, The Walking Dead, Nashville, and True Blood, as well as the pilots for Gilmore Girls, In My Life and Pretty Little Liars.
A veteran of the industry, Whittingham spoke about his personal emphasis on transcending race in his career and how he is committed to setting an example as an African American man in the directing profession. During his quarter century behind the camera, he has directed episodes for a wide variety of television series including black-ish, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Survivor’s Remorse, The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Entourage, Everybody Hates Chris, and The Bernie Mac Show; and won NAACP Image Awards for his work on Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and The Office. He has been a DGA member since 1987.
The discussion was moderated by Director Mary Lou Belli, a DGA member since 1987 and two-time Emmy Award®-winning director whose credits include episodes of NCIS: New Orleans, Monk, Hart of Dixie, Wizards of Waverly Place, Girlfriends and The Game. Following the panel discussion, all attendees were invited to a reception in the DGA atrium.
You can watch video highlights in the gallery below. DGA members, CLICK HERE to watch the full discussions from each of the Director Development Initiative Speaker Series events.