New study says studios are hiring Black direct0rs by not women

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 1/4/2019, 10:48 a.m.
More and more movie directors of color are getting hired in...
Ava DuVernay

More and more movie directors of color are getting hired in Hollywood. That’s good news. However, women are still being left behind, says a report published in USA Today. For the first time in more than a decade, Hollywood studios hired a greater percentage of Black directors to helm top-performing films – 16 Black directors in 2018, actually – said a new study from Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. And yet, female directors continue to see no change over the same time frame. “Sixteen of the directors of the top 100 movies last year were Black – this historically high figure is nearly three times greater than the six Black directors working in 2017 and twice as many as the eight Black directors working in 2007,” said Smith in a statement. “While we do not see this finding mirrored among female or Asian directors, this offers proof that Hollywood can change when it wants to.” Just how bad is it for women behind the camera? Out of the 100 top-grossing films of 2018, only four women were at the helm: Ava DuVernay: ("A Wrinkle in Time"), Kay Cannon ("Blockers"), Abby Kohn ("I Feel Pretty") and Susanna Fogel ("The Spy Who Dumped Me"). The numbers only get worse looking at the 1,200 top-grossing films released between 2007 and 2018, according to the new study.

· Only 4.3 percent of all directors across the top films from 2007 to 2018 were female, a ratio of 22 males to every one female director.

· Only five Black women, three Asian women and one Latina have worked as directors on those 1,200 films, with no evident change over time.

· Asian directors represented only 3.6 percent of 2018’s top 100 film directors. Across the 12-year sample, just 3.1 percent of the 1,335 directors studied were Asian.

The report, titled “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair,” found that women continue to face major roadblocks industry-wide. Women of color "are nearly invisible in film production – whether as directors, producers or in below-the-line crew positions,” said Smith.

The study found that over the past three years, producers skewed heavily male (82.1 percent), as did cinematographers (97 percent), editors (84.5 percent), production designers (81.7 percent) and composers (97.7 percent). Very few women worked as first assistant directors (9 percent), which is typically a springboard into a director role. The inclusion report also examined executive ranks at seven major entertainment companies, and found an uptick in women holding board seats.