DGA Report Assesses Director Diversity in Hiring Practices for Episodic Television

DGA Diversty Report Episodic TV Directors

September 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES – The Directors Guild of America today released a report analyzing the ethnicity and gender of directors hired to direct primetime episodic television across broadcast, basic cable and premium cable.

The DGA analyzed more than 3,100 episodes produced in the 2011-2012 network television season and the 2011 cable television season from more than 190 scripted television series. The report showed that Caucasian males directed 73% of all episodes; Caucasian females directed 11% of all episodes; minority males directed 13% of all episodes and minority females directed 4% of all episodes. Among one-hour series, Caucasian males directed 76% of all episodes, and in half-hour series, Caucasian males directed 69% of all episodes.

In designing the parameters for this year’s report, the DGA made several changes to its methodology and data collection to improve accuracy and make it easier to compare data to other years. These changes included defining specific start and end dates for each television season production cycle; capturing more DGA-covered episodes; implementing additional automated calculation procedures; and clarifying, in cooperation with the companies, the status of directors whose ethnicity or gender had previously been identified as “unknown.”

As a result of these improvements, the DGA was able to improve the data for the previous 2010-2011 television season to more accurately report the statistics. The data now shows that in the 2010-2011 television season, Caucasian males directed 72% of all episodes (not 77% as had been reported); Caucasian females directed 11% of all episodes (unchanged from the 11% that had been reported); minority males directed 14% of all episodes (up from the 11% that had been reported); and minority females directed 3% of all episodes (up from the 1% that had been reported). The changes in data are a result of capturing nearly 300 additional episodes for the season and more accurately identifying the diversity status of the directors.

Comparing figures for 2011-2012 with figures for 2010-2011, this year’s report shows that the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males increased slightly, from 72% to 73%; the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian females remained the same at 11%; the percentage of episodes directed by male minorities decreased from 14% to 13%; and the percentage of episodes directed by female minorities increased, from 3% to 4%.

The shows highlighted below are from major production companies ABC, CBS, Fox, HBO, NBC, Sony, Warner Bros. and other production companies whose shows appear on broadcast, basic cable and premium cable networks. They do not include series that have been cancelled, and pilots are not included in the statistics.

DGA's "WORST OF" Lists

Following are the shows with the worst records of hiring women and minority directors for the 2011-2012 television season:


Title (Production Company) – Percentage of Episodes by Women or Minority Directors:

  • Chemistry (Chemistry Series/Cinemax) – 0%
  • Dallas (Horizon Scripted Television/TNT) – 0%
  • The Inbetweeners (On Site Productions/MTV) – 0%
  • Leverage (Leverage Productions/TNT) – 0%
  • Retired at 35 (King Street Productions/TV Land) – 0%
  • Supernatural (NS Pictures/CW) – 0%
  • Veep (Home Box Office/HBO) – 0%
  • Workaholics (50/50 Productions/Comedy Central) – 0%

Title (Production Company) – Percentage:

  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS Broadcasting/CBS) – 5%
  • Hart of Dixie (Bonanza Productions/CW) – 5%
  • Nikita (NS Pictures/CW) – 5%
  • Once Upon A Time (Digital 49 Productions/ABC) – 5%
  • Boardwalk Empire (Home Box Office/HBO) – 8%
  • Justified (Woodridge Productions/FX) – 8%
  • Modern Family (Twentieth Century Fox Television/ABC) – 8%
  • The Office (Universal Network Television/NBC) – 8%
  • Supah Ninjas (Uptown Productions/Nickelodeon) – 8%
  • True Blood (Home Box Office/HBO) – 8%
  • Community (Remote Broadcasting/NBC) – 9%
  • Two Broke Girls (Bonanza Productions/CBS) – 9%
  • Fringe (Warner Bros. Television/FOX) – 10%
  • Hell on Wheels (Entertainment One Television USA/AMC) – 11%
  • The Newsroom (Home Box Office/HBO) – 11%
  • Perception (FTP Productions/TNT) – 11%
  • The Wedding Band (Terrapin Productions/TBS) – 11%
  • Castle (ABC Studios/ABC) – 13%
  • Cougar Town (FTP Productions/ABC) – 13%
  • Gossip Girl (Warner Bros. Television/CW) – 13%
  • New Girl (Twentieth Century Fox Television/FOX) – 13%
  • Rizzoli & Isles (Horizon Scripted Television/TNT) – 13%
  • Shake it Up (It’s a Laugh Productions/Disney Channel) – 13%
  • Parks & Recreation (Open 4 Business Productions/NBC) – 14%
  • Revenge (ABC Studios/ABC) – 14%
  • The Vampire Diaries (Bonanza Productions/CW) – 14% 

DGA's "BEST OF" List

At the same time, the following shows are highlighted for hiring above the industry average in the 2011-2012 production cycle:


Title (Production Company) – Percentage:

  • The Game (Breakdown Productions/BET) – 100%
  • Let’s Stay Together (Breakdown Productions/BET) – 100%
  • Reed Between the Lines (Breakdown Productions/BET) – 100%
  • Single Ladies (Bling Productions/VH1) – 100%
  • Lab Rats (It’s a Laugh Productions/Disney XD) – 80%
  • Scandal (FTP Productions/ABC) – 67%
  • Suits (Open 4 Business Productions/USA) – 64%
  • Pair of Kings (It’s a Laugh Productions/Disney XD) – 62%
  • Nurse Jackie (Nurse Productions/Showtime) – 60%
  • Treme (Home Box Office/HBO) – 60%
  • Jessie (It’s a Laugh Productions/Disney Channel) – 58%
  • Drop Dead Diva (Woodridge Productions/Lifetime) – 54%
  • The Walking Dead (Stalwart Films/AMC) – 53%
  • Awkward (On Site Productions/MTV) – 50%
  • Grimm (Open 4 Business Productions/NBC) – 48%
  • The Middle (Warner Bros. Television/ABC) – 46%
  • Girls (Home Box Office/HBO) – 44%
  • 90210 (CBS Broadcasting/CW) – 42%
  • Covert Affairs (Open 4 Business Productions/USA) – 43%
  • Dexter (Showtime Pictures Development Company/Showtime) – 42%
  • Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (Twentieth Century Fox Television/ABC) – 42%
  • The Big C (Remote Broadcasting/Showtime) – 40%
  • Level Up (Alive and Kicking/Cartoon Network) – 40%
  • Suburgatory (Bonanza Productions/ABC) – 38%
  • Warehouse 13 – Universal Network Television/SyFy) – 38%
  • Boss (Boss Kane Productions/Starz!) – 38%
  • 30 Rock (NBC Studios/NBC) – 36%
  • The Good Wife (CBS Broadcasting/CBS) – 36%
  • Raising Hope (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/FOX) – 36%
  • Smash (NBC Studios/NBC) – 36%
  • Sons of Anarchy (Pacific 2.1 Entertainment Group/FX) – 36%
  • Austin & Ally (It’s a Laugh Productions/Disney Channel) – 33%
  • CSI: NY (CBS Broadcasting/CBS) – 33%
  • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC Studios/ABC) – 33%
  • Fairly Legal (Open 4 Business Productions/USA) – 33%
  • Body of Proof (FTP Productions/ABC) – 31%
  • Psych (Universal Network Television/USA) – 31%
  • Alphas (Open 4 Business Productions/SyFy) – 30%
  • Falling Skies (Turner North Center Productions/TNT) – 30%
  • Franklin & Bash (Woodridge Productions/TNT) – 30%
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day (Bad Wolf Productions/Starz!) – 30%  

Although the DGA does not include shows that have been cancelled in its lists, there are several series that ran for multiple seasons but ended production this season that deserve to be commended for their diversity in hiring, including Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (100%); Hung (60%); Hawthorne (56%); So Random! (54%); The Killing (46%); Eureka (38%); Make It or Break It (38%); CSI: Miami (37%); and In Plain Sight (31%).

Shows that are primarily directed by only one or two directors for the entire season [The Big Bang Theory; Delocated; Eastbound & Down; The Exes; Happily Divorced; Hot In Cleveland; How I Met Your Mother; It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia; Last Man Standing; The League; Louie; Mike & Molly; Rules of Engagement; Two And A Half Men; Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse; and Wilfred] were included in the overall data, but are not singled out in the lists above.

DGA Diversity Report Episodic TV Directors GenderWhile some individual shows appear to have made an effort to increase diversity in hiring, and more shows hired enough women and minority directors to earn a spot on our “Best Of” list, overall statistics for episodic television indicate that little has changed since last year. Too many shows failed to reach even the low threshold of hiring women or minorities for at least 15% of episodes in a season.

The Guild’s African American, Asian, Latino and Women’s Committees continue to hold meetings and networking events with producers, networks and studio representatives to introduce talented directors to key producers and television executives. Additionally, several diversity programs that were established years ago by production companies, at the urging of the Guild, continue to give women and minority directors exposure to executive producers and others who make hiring decisions, but these programs have not yet made any demonstrable difference.

Over the past two years, DGA executives and members of the Diversity Task Force held more than a dozen meetings with production companies specifically to address diversity in hiring. The meetings highlighted the fact that many companies feel more comfortable continuing to hire directors with whom they are already familiar, perhaps explaining why diversity statistics have remained relatively stagnant.

DGA Diversity Report 2012“Our industry has to do better,” said Paris Barclay, the DGA’s First Vice President and Co-Chair of the Diversity Task Force of the DGA National Board. (Barclay is also an executive producer for Sons of Anarchy and won a DGA Award and two Emmys for directing NYPD Blue along with multiple other nominations) “In this day and age, it’s quite disappointing that so many shows failed to hire even a single woman or minority director during the course of an entire season – even shows whose cast and crew otherwise is notably diverse. And, ‘We just don’t know anybody,’ doesn’t cut it anymore – the pool of talented and experienced women and minority directors grows every year, and too many of these qualified, capable directors are still overlooked.”

The DGA maintains a contact list of experienced women and minority directors to make it easier for producers making hiring decisions. The list can be obtained by any production company by contacting the DGA.

“Like any director working today, I started out when somebody took a shot at hiring me,” said Lesli Linka Glatter, Board Member and Co-Chair of the Diversity Task Force of the DGA National Board. (Glatter won a DGA Award and was nominated for an Emmy for directing Mad Men, and this year has directed episodes of The Newsroom, Boss, True Blood, Homeland, Walking Dead and Nashville.) “It’s how we all start out – male, female, white or minority. As somebody who has been an executive producer on a television series, I can tell you that increasing director diversity is as simple as hiring more women and more people of color. It’s time that every producer, every showrunner, every person responsible for making hiring decisions in episodic television take a careful and honest look at their hiring practices and ask themselves how they can do better.”

In last year’s report, the DGA verified statistics for all shows with representatives of the employers. One issue that arose after the release of the report was related to the series Burn Notice, which had been incorrectly placed on the “Worst Of” list based on statistics that had been verified by the employer. Further investigation showed that the error occurred when only the first half of Burn Notice’s episodes for the season were analyzed; basic cable production cycles often differ significantly from traditional broadcast network production cycles, one of the reasons that the DGA changed its methodology in this year’s report to specifically define start and end dates for production cycles. The improved methodology shows that in the 2010 basic cable production cycle, Burn Notice had 18 episodes and hired women or minority directors 28% of the time. In the 2011 production cycle examined in this year’s report, Burn Notice hired women or minority directors to direct two of their 18 episodes for a total percentage of 11%.  

The DGA compiled the statistics for this report from information provided by the production companies to the DGA pursuant to the requirements of the collective bargaining agreement for episodes produced during the 2011-2012 season, and then validated the data directly with the shows themselves, and then again with a labor relations representative at the production company if available.  A few shows failed to verify their statistics, in which case the DGA made its best effort to validate the data with someone at the production company level. 

Lily Bedrossian -
Executive in Charge of Public Relations
(310) 289-5334
The Good Fight

Over the past 30 years, Guild diversity committees have advanced the cause of women and minority members.

Disney/ABC-DGA Directing Program Orientation

14 directors recently selected for the Disney/ABC-DGA Directing Fellowship Program gathered at Guild headquarters in Los Angeles for an orientation.

2012 EDSC Showrunners Event

EDSC hosted an event designed to introduce qualified female directors and directors of color to executives in episodic television shows shooting in the New York area.

Music Resources for the Indie Filmmaker

The African American Steering Committee invited a panel of experts for a discussion about how indie filmmakers can find music for their projects.

A Conversation with Director Jessica Yu

The Asian American Committee hosted a screening and Q&A with director Jessica Yu’s on her new documentary, Last Call at the Oasis.