Television directing is still not very diverse

Behind the scenes of Empire, one of the few shows with a strong track record for diversity in directing talent

Much ink has been spilled about the changing face of television, with new shows (and their showrunners) finally expanding the diversity of experiences and characters on television. But even at a time with different people represented on screen in growing numbers, the picture behind-the-scenes has often still not caught up.

In analysis for Variety, Maureen Ryan discovered that white men directed about three-quarters of all television episodes over the past several years across all networks, including streaming platforms. Even at Netflix – often an incubator for new voices and perspectives – no woman of color directed any episode of their shows last season. As Ryan notes, this is in contrast to elsewhere in television production, where writers’ rooms have become increasingly diverse. The article partially points fingers at the exhausting television production process, where only trusted, experienced directors land major jobs… and few of those established names are women or people of color.

The article is an insightful read, particularly for the anecdotes from television industry professionals. Ryan even hints at a few solutions, such as expanding mentorship programs cultivated by the studios and guilds. There’s room for practical progress, even if it’s coming too slowly.

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