Ryan Murphy's Push for TV Directing Equality Making Big Strides in First Year

The prolific showrunner's TV slate has hired 60 percent women directors in its first year.
Photographed by Miller Mobley

In its first year, Ryan Murphy's Half Foundation has succeeded in its plans to see, as its title would suggest, more than half of the prolific showrunner's TV programming be directed by women.

Ahead of its time in front of reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, FX unveiled a look at the strides that the Half Foundation has made in its first year. Of Murphy's slate, 60 percent of shows have women directors and 94 percent meet the minority requirement.

The Half Foundation, in collaboration with FX Networks and CEO John Landgraf, increased the director slate from 12 percent female/diverse directors in 2015 to 51 percent in 2016 for the network as a whole. That includes women and minorities serving as department heads and an all-female art department.
"I love looking around my company and empowering inclusion in all departments," Murphy said. “I recently led a production meeting and was proud to see that more than half of the people sitting at the table were women and minorities. That’s the way it should be.”

Half has also launched a directing mentorship program where every director on every Ryan Murphy Television production mentors emerging directors through the process, from preproduction to postproduction. It also provides a stipend that has provided more than $200,000 in financial aid to help with travel, lodging and daycare for working mothers. FX noted three participants in the program became first-time episodic directors as Murphy looks to hire more through the initiative. 

Additionally, Half has teamed with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in creating an internship program to create opportunities for underrepresented youth in collaboration with the California Film Commission. To that end, Murphy recently joined Garcetti’s Advisory Board on the Entertainment Inclusion Fund.

Half will also be launching Half Fest at Los Angeles' Skirball Cultural Center, whose mission is to “welcome people of all communities and generations to participate in cultural experiences that celebrate discovery and hope, foster human connections, and call upon us to help build a more just society.” Half Fest’s goal is to showcase its participants in the director mentorship program so that the industry may engage with diverse storytellers.

"I want to mentor and sponsor these emerging directors as storytelling continues to move forward and so should the storytellers,” Murphy said.

The news comes as many broadcast, cable and streaming outlets continue to make inclusivity a top priority onscreen and behind-the-scenes. 

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