New Reports Show A Declining Job Landscape for POC TV Writers & Directors

By Arturo R. García

A new report from the Directors Guild of America indicates that the going is getting tougher for female and POC directors in television.

The DGA’s study, which covered more than 2,600 episodes produced during the 2010-11 TV season, revealed that white males directed 77% of the episodes for the 170 shows included, a 2% increase. White women and POC males directed 11% apiece, with POC females directing just 1% of episodes during the season.

The L.A. Times noted that the DGA’s report comes less than a month after a study released by San Diego State University showed a double-digit drop in the amount of female writers and directors on prime-time series, and six months after a Writers Guild of America study found evidence of a growing disparity in pay between white and POC television writers.

The DGA’s study singled out nine series who hired no women or minorities to direct episodes this past year:

  • Bored to Death (HBO)
  • Burn Notice (TVM Productions/Fox)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
  • Fringe (Warner Bros.)
  • iCarly (Uptown Productions/MTV/Viacom)
  • Justified (Woodridge Productions/CPT Holdings/Sony)
  • Leverage (Leverage Productions)
  • Victorious (Uptown Productions/MTV/Viacom)
  • Weeds (Weeds Productions)

Another 16 shows – including True Blood and Supernatural, which have been covered on Racialicious – were cited for hiring women or POC to direct less than 15 percent of their episodes. Only three shows – ABC’s The Middle (Warner Brothers), and HBO productions Hung and In Treatment – had a woman or a POC at the helm for more than 50 percent of their episodes.

Sons of Anarchy executive producer Paris Barclay, a member of the DGA’s diversity task force, told the Times, “It’s not enough to just give lip service to the idea of increasing diversity behind the camera. These programs are so far failing to live up to their promise. So we’re going to take the discussion straight to the people on each show who make hiring decisions.”

According to Roland S. Martin, that might not be an idle threat; the new DGA collective bargaining agreement will allow the Guild to meet “with executives responsible for hiring at the individual show level.”

The prospects were even more dim for first-time directors who weren’t white. POC men and women combined to constitute only 9 percent of the 130 new directors hired in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

“We’ve heard the excuses from those responsible for hiring that they don’t want to take a chance on a new director,” DGA board member Lesli Linka Glatter told Variety. “But the truth is that the industry hires new directors all the time; it’s just that most of them are white males.”

  • Excalibury2g

    I’m very surprised that Justified is on the list. The show creator seems committed to the idea of a diverse work environment and writing for POC. He actually did a seminar on it for the WGA and it is on youtube.  Linky:

  • Soulsentwined

    So as America is becoming more diverse, TV is becoming less diverse. They are going to lose a lot of viewers to streaming video series such as “League of Extraordinary Dancers” , “Awkward Black Girl”, and K-town Cowboys.

  • Anonymous

    Contrast this against the fact that Tyler Perry is now the highest paid man in Hollywood and you have a very grim picture for the future of diversity in Film and TV. 

  • Javan Nelums

    This is the reason why there are so many white leads, because Hollywood wants to make more money. They don’t want to tap into the POC market. This hiring tactic is like how the Jim Crow and the Nazi’s operate.