Diversity of TV Directors Ticks Up in DGA Study: "The Compass Is Pointing in the Right Direction"

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Women and people of color are gaining ground as employment practices evolve.

A record high percentage of scripted episodic television directing jobs went to women and people of color, the Directors Guild of America reported Wednesday, with 25 percent of the 2017-2018 season's episodes helmed by women and 24 percent by people of color.

Those numbers represent a four-point increase for women, but just a two-point increase for people of color. The percentage of episodes directed by white males decreased from 61 percent to 56 percent.

"It's encouraging to see that the compass is pointing in the right direction, yet progress is mixed," said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. "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."

The DGA study analyzed nearly 4,300 episodes produced in the season, compared to nearly 4,500 produced the previous season. Pilots were excluded. Caucasians directed 235 fewer episodes, while the number helmed by ethnic minorities was essentially stagnant — 10 to 15 more or fewer episodes than the previous season (the numbers varied among ethnic groups). Women directed 131 more episodes than in the 2016-2017 season, and men helmed 339 fewer episodes.

Broken out by studio, Disney/ABC, Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate and CBS held the top four spots in the hiring of diverse directors. In the middle were Paramount, HBO, NBC Universal, and Warner Bros. At the bottom: Sony, Netflix, Viacom and Amazon.

The study complements a DGA study released six weeks ago that focused on diversity among first-time TV directors, which found that more women and ethnic minorities were getting a first-time shot at helming.