More women and TV directors of color working, new DGA report shows

A scene from "The Chi"
Showtime’s “The Chi” was among the shows whose high percentage of women directors is helping increase diversity overall in Hollywood.
(Parrish Lewis / Parrish Lewis / Showtime)

Last year’s TV season saw a rise in the number of women and people of color directing television shows, according to a new report by the Directors Guild of America.

The percentage of the more than 4,300 episodes of television made by directors of color in the 2019-2020 season rose to 32% from 27% the year prior, up from 18% five seasons ago, the union said Tuesday.

Episodes directed by women grew to 34%, up from 31% from the prior season, according to the study.


The numbers suggest an improving picture in one corner of the industry, reflecting various efforts by studios and filmmakers to improve representation behind the camera.

Despite new highs in the shares of episodes directed by women and Black creators, Latino filmmakers and women of color remained severely underrepresented, the union said.

“It is vitally important that no group should be disadvantaged when it comes to developing a career,” DGA President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “While we see encouraging growth in some areas, we will not be satisfied until we see fairness for all.”

Showtime’s coming of age drama “The Chi” had a high percentage of female directors, with about 70% of the episodes directed by women of color, including Jet Wilkinson. HBO’s comedy “Insecure” and fantasy drama “Lovecraft Country” were also examples of series where at least half the episodes were directed by women, according to the DGA.

Ava DuVernay’s drama “Queen Sugar” continued to fuel a pipeline of female directors of color with its most recent seasons. DuVernay last week launched Array Crew, a database of below-the-line talent in a bid to facilitate increased hiring of diverse crew.

White men continued to dominate the profession, accounting for 43% of episodes directed, down from 50% the season prior.


The vast majority of female directors are white, accounting for 23% of the total number of episodes, up from 22% in 2018-2019. There were more white female directors overall than male directors of color directing TV episodes in the last season, which accounted for 22%, up from 19% in the prior season.

Female directors of color accounted for 10% of the episodes, up from 8% last year.

African American women directed 5.2% of the episodes, Latino females 2.4% and Asian American females 2.1%. The union doesn’t have a comparison for the prior season broken down by ethnicity.

Some studios have in the last year made additional investments in diversity initiatives, with producers like CBS Studios teaming up with the NAACP to create more representative TV shows.

CBS hires an industry veteran to make more inclusive programming as part of an NAACP joint venture.

Oct. 27, 2020

Major studios accounted for nearly three-quarters of the episodes in the study. While Sony ranked highest among studios for the percentage of directors of color on episodes it produced (tied with WarnerMedia), it ranked penultimate in terms of percentage of women directors with 32%.

Paramount ranked highest for its hiring percentage of women directors, with 47%. CBS ranked lowest with 30% of women directors on episodes of TV it produced. HBO ranked lowest in terms of directors of color it hired, at 18%.