The latest report from the Directors' Guild of America shows that directing jobs for the 2015-2016 TV season went to predominantly white men. Female directors increased only 1% from the previous year's report. That's achingly slow progress which is why news of Netflix's Jessica Jones hiring all women to direct the Marvel's next season is such great news.
– Mo Ryan (@moryan) October 22, 2016
Variety reported more from the event:
[Executive Producer Melissa] Rosenberg said that in the second season of the superhero show, she had wanted to increase the number of female directors – a goal that Marvel was completely on board with, she noted. Given how in-demand many women directors are these days, she and her fellow producers had set their sights on booking women first, she said, and contracting male directors later in the pre-production process.
But then someone else involved in the production – she didn”t specify who – floated the idea of booking only women as directors. Rosenberg was honest about the fact that she hadn”t contemplated that concept prior to that conversation, but she said she quickly jumped at the opportunity.
Ava DuVernay's Queen Sugar made the same decision for its debut season earlier this year to much praise. Do shows have to hire all women to direct full seasons? No, but it does help that slow progress and is both a great PR move and a statement to Hollywood at large: Hire more women; it's not hard.
Getting any job without experience is tough, so when productions are looking at directors, they're likely to pass over most women entirely. In the case of Queen Sugar, not only did DuVernay hire all women, she hired several who had never worked on episodic TV before, giving them a great addition to their resume.
Women, especially women of color, just aren't afforded the same opportunities as other directors. So while in a perfect world we wouldn't consider gender when hiring, it's something that does actually need to be considered. Variety notes Rosenberg said inclusive hiring for all personnel was “a conscious decision and it”s very important that showrunners do that.”
It's important, and it's important to keep discussing why it's important because many don't consider it at all.