Directors Guild study: First-time TV directors overwhelmingly white

A study by the Directors Guild of America shows that first-time TV directing jobs go mostly to white males. Paris Barclay, the head of the organization -- seen directing an episode of "Sons of Anarchy" -- says: "There is a big opportunity here for those in charge of hiring to make a difference."
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Even as shows such as “Black-ish,” “Empire” and “Cristela” broaden the diversity of characters and stories on television, the opportunities for first-time female and minority directors on TV remain limited.

Women make up only 18% of first-time directors on episodic TV shows, while minorities comprise only 13% of first-time directors, according to a study published this week by the Directors Guild of America. The study charted the five-year period from the 2009-10 season through the 2013-14 season (excluding pilots).

“Every director needs a first shot to break into the business,” said DGA President Paris Barclay in a statement. Barclay, who is African American, has directed episodes of television programs such as Fox’s “Glee,” FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Good Wife” on CBS.


He added: “What this report reveals is that studios, networks and executive producers need to challenge their own hiring practices and offer talented women and minority directors the same opportunities they are giving white males.”

The study examined the demographics of 479 people in their first television directing jobs. Of these, 87% of first-time television directors were white, while 82% were male. According to the most recent census data, only 63% of the U.S. population is white, while 51% of the U.S. population is female.

This follows another DGA study, released in September, which showed that the representation of women and minorities in prime-time episodic directing jobs has not shown improvement in recent years. Among the findings were that white males had directed 69% of all prime time episodes, with minority men accounting for only 17%, white women for 12% and minority women for a mere 2%.

The new study revealed that 28% of first-time television directors were writers prior to taking the director’s chair. Another 18% were actors and 10% were assistant directors or unit production managers.

See the full study at

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