How Many Drama Pilots Were Directed By Women In 2017? One.
During the 2015 television season, four female directors helmed broadcast drama pilots (and two of them were women of color). In the 2016 season, only two of the over 40 drama pilots were directed by women. For the current season, the number has dropped to one. Of the 41 broadcast drama pilots set to air during the 2017 season, only ABC's Las Reinas will find a female director (Liz Friedlander, in this case) behind the camera.
In August, John Landgraf, CEO of FX, spoke with Variety about the lack of diversity at his two networks' (FX and FXX), and his attempt to hire more minority directors.
“I hadn’t been really focused on directors, I had been more focused on this question of storytellers in the broad sense, and how do we get everyone’s story told — not just white males,” Landgraf said. “How do we get the right shows, the right executive producers? Because ultimately that changes the composition of the way a story is told and presented and it does ultimately change the composition of the employee base.”
He added that the lack of minority directors resulted because “we just happened to all be working in a system that was racially biased, and weren’t taking responsibility for stepping up and acknowledging that and saying, ‘OK, we will be the change,’.”
Yet, despite FX's (and other networks') efforts, women's representation among TV directors has been decreasing.
According to the Directors Guild of America, "during 2015-2016 season, 17% of episodic directors were women, 19% minority," reports Deadline.
Comedic pilots fared slightly better. The 2017 season will see five comedy pilots directed by women, and a sixth is currently in negotiation.
“There is so much original television production,” said Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, notes the L.A. Times. His department studies diversity in Hollywood. “It used to be the big four networks, then you got the smaller networks, then the 60-plus cable networks. Now there are all the digital networks. We looked at 1,206 shows, most of them reality, but there is a ton of scripted television out there too. And on some level, the industry has to fill the space, so they can’t go back to the same 15 white guys. It’s created opportunities.”
“Our industry needs deliberate, decisive efforts now to get to gender balance, inclusion, and true belonging for a diverse talent pool,” said Katherine Sarafian, a producer and vice president at Pixar, notes Variety. “A clear goal like Women in Animation's 50-50 by 2025 is a fantastic step.”