Time To Open Up Director Ranks

As the cable industry devoted last week to diversity efforts, a new report from the Directors Guild of America has found that minorities and women are not regularly being hired to direct television


The percentage of episodes directed by white and minority females remained even year-to-year at a paltry 12% and 2%, respectively, according to the DGA report, which looked at more than 3,500

episodes of more than 220 series produced in the 2013-14 network-television season and the 2013 cabletelevision season.

The only year-to-year gains were made by minority males, who directed 17% of show episodes compared to 14% last year. But a closer look reveals that all of those gains were made by one director,

Tyler Perry, who directed every episode of the three series that he has on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network: The Haves and Have Nots, For Better or for Worse and Love Thy Neighbor. The percentage of

episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased from 72% in 2012-13 to 69% in 2013-14.

Translated, women and minority males combined still directed just three out of every 10 television series episodes, according to the DGA.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell said during last week’s NAMIC Conference that the best way to ensure that the industry continues to make gains in minority and

female employment is to make sure there’s a strong and full pipeline of qualified executives waiting in the wings.

It’s hard to believe that there aren’t many talented female and minority directors awaiting their chance to showcase their skills behind the camera. They have to be given a chance.

DGA president Paris Barclay said as much in his statement regarding the report. “Unfortunately, it can be shockingly difficult to convince the people who control hiring to make even small

improvements to their hiring practices,” he said. “People often say, ‘Everybody is responsible for diversity,’ but in the end, that often means that nobody takes responsibility. It’s time for the people who

make the hiring decisions — be they studios, networks, production companies, or individual producers — to stop making excuses, stop passing the buck, and start living up to the country’s promise and

possibility by providing true equal opportunity.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.