Despite a precipitous 36% drop in the number of scripted TV episodes produced during the worst days of the Covid pandemic, the percentage of women and people of color who directed them reached record highs during the 2020 season- 21.
According to the latest DGA Inclusion Report, 38% of episodes in the 2020-21 season were directed by women, an increase of 8.6% from 35% the previous season, and more than double the 16 % they achieved in 2014. Color achieved 34% of episodes, up 17.2% from 29% the previous season, and more than double their 16% from 2014.
Even so, the guild noted that “While the shares of episodes directed by women and directors of color have continued to see incremental growth, the gains have not been shared equally. Latino and Asian directors saw minimal gains, continuing to remain underrepresented at 9% and 7% respectively.
Despite these percentage gains for women and people of color, the actual number of episodes they directed dropped significantly during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, as there were far fewer episodes. to achieve than the previous year. According to the report, there were 2,691 episodes covered by DGA during the 2020-21 season, down 1,495 episodes from the previous season’s 4,186 episodes. This resulted in approximately 440 fewer episodes to be made for women and nearly 300 fewer episodes to be made for people of color.
“As the pandemic hit, a big question in our minds was whether progress on inclusive hiring would reverse as the production environment changed dramatically with the implementation of the necessary Covid safety protocols,” said the president of the DGA, Lesli Linka Glatter. “Despite all the production challenges, the good news is that inclusive hiring continued to rise last year – both in overall hiring, as well as in the hiring of new directors. That said, although Although there has been continuous progress, the goal of a level playing field for all has yet to be achieved, and the statistics clearly show this, especially for our Latino and Asian members.
The report found that 18% of episodes in the 2020-21 season were directed by African Americans, up from 15% the previous season. This year’s inclusion report, however, does not include the prodigious production of director Tyler Perry, who is not mentioned by name in the report. A footnote states that “in designing the metrics for this year’s report, the DGA modified its methodology and data collection to improve the overall accuracy of the report. It was decided to remove an outlier from this year’s report. An African-American director with up to 150 episodes a year wrongly exaggerates the employment of African-American directors. All data in the report comparing 2020-21 to previous years has been adjusted so that statistics are comparable. »
According to the report, 9% of episodes were directed by Latinos in the 2020-21 season, up from 7% the previous year; 7% of episodes were directed by Asian Americans, which was about the same as the previous season, and less than 1% of episodes were directed by Native Americans, which was also similar to the season previous.
Broken down by gender, Caucasian males achieved 39% of episodes and Caucasian females achieved 23%; African-American men directed 11% of episodes and African-American women directed 7%; Latino men achieved 5% and Latinas 4%; Asian American men achieved 5% and Asian Americans 2%; Native American men made 0.3% and Native American women 0.1%.
Looking at the data in a different way – counting the number of individual directors whether they worked on a single episode or multiple episodes of the season – the DGA found that there were 896 individual directors hired to work. during the 2020-21 season on 170 DGA-US-based scripted television series. Of these directors, 39% were women; 61% were men; 64% were Caucasian; 15% were African American, 8% were Asian American, 9% were Latino, 0.02% were Native American, and 4% were unknown/refused to state their race or ethnicity. By contrast, in the previous 2019-20 season, when 1,268 individual directors were hired, 35% were women and 11% were African American.
According to the DGA, major studios oversaw the production of nearly three-quarters of the episodes covered in its latest report. As these charts show, among companies that oversaw the production of at least 50 DGA-covered episodes, Lionsgate had by far the highest percentage of directors of color (56%), while Viacom Media Networks was at tied with HBO for the lowest percentage (21%). HBO, however, had the highest percentage of female directors (46%) and Viacom Media Networks again had the lowest (26%).
A footnote states that the report “tracks employment by television studios (production), as opposed to distribution platforms. Many studios also produce series for third parties, and some studios are not affiliated with a distribution platform.
The DGA, for the first time, also released data on the inclusion status of directorial teams working alongside directors on scripted episodic shows. “For purposes of analysis,” the report states, “a single job has been defined as: a crew hire at a work
unit manager category, first assistant director, second assistant director, second 2AD, additional 2AD and managers covered by the DGA. The DGA notes that this data is based on full-season hires and not individuals hired for a day or a few days on an individual episode.
The report shows that there were 1,180 jobs in total in the directing team for the 2020-21 season consisting of 1,011 people, with some people working on more than one show during a season.
Broken down by gender and ethnicity, 465 of the management team jobs went to women, or 39% of the total, while 280 management team jobs went to senior management team members. colour, i.e. 24% of the total. African Americans accounted for 13% of jobs, Latinos 6%, Asian Americans 4% and Native Americans 0.6%.
A breakdown of the various senior management team job categories by gender and ethnicity shows the following:
• UPM: 201 jobs in total – 33% women; 11% people of color
• 1st AD: 338 jobs in total – 31% women; 22% people of color
• 2nd AD: 641 jobs in total – 46% women; 29% people of color
“We’re proud to release our first-ever report on executive team inclusion in episodic television,” Glatter said. “By focusing on full-season hires, we were able to create an important new baseline of current studio hiring practices for the production team. Unfortunately, this report reveals that studio hiring practices for the directing team raise concerns, particularly around the hiring of ADs and UPMs of color who make up less than a quarter of all team members hired last season.
The guild also noted that it began the process of identifying and tracking data on LGBTQ+ members and members with disabilities in 2021 and will seek to add inclusion statistics regarding these members in future reports.
The report, like previous reports, also looked at hiring data for episodic administrators for the first time. Over the years, the guild has complained that too many of these episodic “first break” directing gigs are given to show insiders who often aren’t pursuing directing careers and that they tend to be much less inclusive.
“Recognizing that inclusion cannot be truly achieved until the pipeline changes,” the DGA says it “has been closely monitoring for many years the number of first-break jobs awarded to those affiliated with the series in another capacity, primarily writers/producers and actors versus those given to people who were hired for their experience as directors working in other genres such as feature films and commercials”, which the guild calls “career directors”.
During the pandemic-hit 2020-21 season, employers hired 113 directors who had never helmed episodic television before. Overall, the percentage of first jobs awarded to directors of color increased to 39% (from 29% the previous season), while the share awarded to women was 46%, from 48% the previous season.
Of those early breakout jobs, 72 (64%) went to show-affiliated directors and 41 (36%) went to career directors. According to the guild, “The Career Director and Affiliate Recruit pools differ in terms of diversity – with the Career Director pool having higher percentages of people of color and women than Affiliate Recruits. Women represent 55% of recruitments of career directors compared to 40% of affiliated directors. Forty-four percent of directors of color are career directors while 38% are affiliated with the show. These inclusion differences are significant because, as DGA data since 2009 shows, two-thirds of career directors continue to direct another series, while only 25% of affiliate directors have continued to direct a series with which they had no affiliation. .”
In conclusion, the DGA noted that it “has been lobbying studios, networks and producers to be more inclusive in hiring for nearly four decades. Guild efforts include: gains from negotiations collective bargaining requiring TV studios to operate TV director diversity programs; ongoing meetings with studios, networks, and individual series regarding their hiring records; and publicly released reports detailing employers’ hiring habits Additionally, the Guild itself has launched a variety of mentorship and education programs for television producers to support the career development of its members.