First-time women and minority television directors were hired in record numbers in the 2016–17 television season, according to a new study from the Directors Guild of America.
The annual study of first-time hires, which the directors' union has conducted since the 2009–10 television season, found that 56 first-time hires (25 percent) in the 2016–17 television season were ethnic-minority directors, while 73 hires (32 percent) were women. Those numbers are up 10 and 9 percent, respectively, from the 2015–16 season, which saw 24 ethnic-minority and 38 female new directors hired. Eighteen hires (8 percent) of the 2016–17 pool were female-minority directors, up from six hires (3.8 percent) in 2015–16.
"Finally, after years of our efforts to educate the industry, hold employers accountable through our contracts, and push them to do better, we're seeing signs of meaningful improvement," DGA President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement.
The DGA refers to this pool of first-time directors as the "pipeline of new episodic television directors." When diverse directors get a first opportunity at directing, the DGA says, odds are that those who are successful will establish longer-term careers.
Overall, episodic television was hiring more directors than ever before in 2016–17: An all-time high of 225 newbie directors helmed episodes for this year's television programming, the DGA found.