The number of first-time female and ethnically diverse TV directors rose in record numbers for the 2016–2017 television season, according to a Directors Guild of America study released on Wednesday.
The percentage of first-time TV directors of color since the 2009–2010 season more than doubled and the percentage of women almost tripled, the DGA found. And the increases in just the last two years are stunning.
Fifty-six (or 25%) of all first-time hires in the 2016–17 season were people of color, a huge bump up from from 24 (15%) in the 2015–16 season. Seventy-three (or 32%) were women—up from 38 (24%) the prior season. The number of women of color rose from six to 18.
“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. He added, “The fact is, it all starts with the pipeline.” That’s true: as the efforts of people like Ava DuVernay show, when women and people of color are given the chance, they can both succeed and bring on more women and people of color in the process.
It’s worth noting, of course, that the numbers the DGA is celebrating are still relatively low. 72% of first time directors are still white and 68% of them are still men. While networks like NBC and CBS have launched programs to get more women and people of color hired as directors, it’s clear there’s still a long way to go.