DGA Five-Year Study of First-Time Directors in Episodic Television Shows Women and Minority Directors Face Significant Hiring Disadvantage at Entry Level

DGA First-Time Episodic Directors Study

January 8, 2015

Los Angeles – The Directors Guild of America today issued the results of a five-year analysis of the gender and ethnic diversity of first-time directors on scripted series.

In the five-year period studied (2009-2010 through 2013-2014 television seasons), 479 directors received their first assignment in episodic television.  The study revealed that 82% of all first-time episodic directors during the five-year span examined were male and only 18% were female; 87% were Caucasian and only 13% were Minority directors.

These figures indicate that, despite the fact that the hiring of first-time episodic directors is a significant area of opportunity to broaden the diversity of the directing hiring pool, those with responsibility for hiring are repeating old hiring patterns and perpetuating the status quo that overwhelmingly favors directors who are white males. 

DGA Episodic Directors by Gender“There’s a big opportunity here for those in charge of hiring to make a difference – but they’re not.  Without change at the entry level – where women and minority directors get their first directing assignment – it’ll be status quo from here to eternity,” said DGA President Paris Barclay.  “Every director needs a first shot to break into the business – and what this report reveals is that studios, networks and executive producers need to challenge their own hiring practices and offer talented women and minority directors the same opportunities they are giving white males.”

Writers made up 28% of the first-time episodic director pool; actors made up 18%; assistant directors/unit production managers comprised 10%; cinematographers/camera operators were 8%; editors totaled 5%; other crew made up 5%; and non-writing producers were 1%.  The remainder of the group was made up of people who had previously directed in other genres including independent film, new media, commercials, music videos, student films and documentaries.

DGA Episodic Directors by Ethnicity“Look, the data is clear. Even when hiring first-timers, the studios and executive producers are making choices that show they don’t actively support diversity hiring,” said Betty Thomas, DGA First Vice-President and Co-Chair of the DGA’s Diversity Task Force.  “First-time TV directors are new to the game and come from all areas of the industry including film school – so why is a woman or minority any less qualified than anybody else?  It seems clearer than ever that we need to see different points of view.  Most of the industry claims to want a more diversified directing workforce – here’s their chance. It could all start here.”

This is the first in a series of DGA reports analyzing multiple aspects of the hiring practices for first-time episodic directors.

The DGA compiled the statistics for this report based on data from the 2009-2010 – 2013-2014 television seasons. The data excludes pilots. In cases where a first-time episodic director could have been assigned to more than one previous employment category, the DGA placed the director in the category for which he or she is most well-known.  All figures were rounded to the nearest percentage. 

Click here for the DGA’s most recent annual report on overall episodic director hiring was issued in September 2014 for the 2013-14 season.

DGA Communications Department (310) 289-5333
2013-2014 Episodic TV Director Diversity Report

Report finds that employers made no improvement in the hiring of women or minority directors in episodic television; hiring practices for first-time episodic directors perpetuate status quo.