Minority Women Less Likely to be First-Time Episodic TV Directors
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) recently confirmed what most wouldn’t find particularly shocking even though the stats are admittedly discouraging. According to Deadline, the latest data reveals that minority women are still lagging way behind Caucasian females and even further behind Caucasian males when it comes to garnering the opportunity to direct their very first episodic TV show.
The 2014-15 TV season inaugurated 128 first-time directors, and out of that group only one Africa-American woman and two Hispanic women made the cut. No Asian-Americans were included in the fold. Approximately 83.6% of the jobs were doled out to Caucasian men with 18 Caucasian women represented.
This is another nagging reminder that the industry at large is still struggling with issues of diversity – a handicap that many actors of color including comedian and actor Chris Rock, who wrote a scathing review of modern day Hollywood late last year have openly criticized. Despite women of color making up at least 19% of the U.S. population, only 2.3% were given the opportunity to as first-time episodic TV directors.
This consistent trend of sticking to mostly Caucasian males when it comes to filling up top spots that ultimately convert to career-making roles may shift over time considering the recent increased interest in TV shows that feature a mostly multi-ethnic cast. Shows like
Black-ish, Empire, Power, Survivor’s Remorse not to mention anything manufactured in ShondaLand have literally changed the game overnight due to their polarizing popularity, forcing TV execs at major networks to revamp the landscape that until just a couple of years ago was stagnantly undiversified.
It is possible though not guaranteed that this shift towards more ethnically-inclined shows could very well boost the chances of minorities particularly women of color in the showrunning arena. In the meantime there are up and coming talents who are putting their newfound fame to good use.
Issa Rae who became a household name due to the immense success of her web series, Awkward Black Girl, is currently working on her latest effort with HBO – a TV Pilot titled Insecure, about an African-American woman’s navigating life with all the complexities that surround her.
Lena Waithe, a writer and producer known primarily for her YouTube series, Dear White People which ended up getting the big screen treatment and was one of the most talked about films in 2014 just recently signed a deal with BET to helm a TV Pilot tentatively titled Twenties – about three black women in their twenties coping with ups and downs of life in Los Angeles.
There may be hope yet for minorities who have a vision and are determined to stick with it till the end. The dismal numbers may prove otherwise but nobody can discount the fact that times are changing. The ones on top may have to hold on for dear life as those at the bottom start to rapidly ascend – this could happen a lot sooner than we think.