Sarah Terry
January 13, 2017 12:51 pm
Mike Windle / Getty

Awards season has really started to heat up, and everyone is eager to see who will win, and today, the Director’s Guild of America announced the nominees for the 2017 DGA Awards. The DGA recognizes directing talent in both film and television, and the films that win the DGA Award often gain momentum in the run up to the Oscars.

But even though we talk a lot about women behind the camera in Hollywood these days, the nominations show a dismal picture. Because there still aren’t enough women directing film and television to make them a dominant presence come awards season.

For this year’s DGA Awards, only 13% of the nominees were women in scripted film and television.

Yeah, that’s only TWO out of FIFTEEN nominees in the major categories: Feature Film, First-Time Feature Film, Drama Series, Comedy Series, and TV Movies or Mini-Series. Kelly Fremon Craig was nominated for her fantastically relatable work in The Edge of Seventeen (First-Time Feature). And Becky Martin was nominated for her work on Veep (Comedy Series).

We are SO excited for those talented ladies, but it’s clear that film and TV still need more women behind the camera.


In fact, only 7% of the top 250 films in 2016 were directed by women. And last year, about the same number of women were employed behind the camera as in 1982, so the situation hasn’t really improved much. With such a massive disparity, it’s hard for women to make a showing during awards season. While naturally, we’re upset that the DGA didn’t nominate more women, the problem is deeply rooted. We need more women directing more films to begin with, so there’s a better shot that those films will be recognized.

Statistics for women are better in television, but not by much.

In the 2015-2016 television season, 17% of episodic TV directors were women. But if you look at the nominations for Comedy and Drama Series, six of the ten nominees in those categories are also creators and/or executive producers on the show. Often, those people want to direct the big, juicy episodes that they might submit for awards consideration. And this year at least, the nominees are all men. Which is why we need to get MORE women not just behind the camera in TV, but in creating and decision-making roles.

But don’t worry, we’re not the only ones fighting for this.

Tons of Hollywood heavyweights stepped up to ensure that the next generation of directors will be more diverse. Ryan Murphy, for example, hired 60% women on his shows last year. Ava Duvernay hired all women on her show Queen Sugar, PLUS she’s officially the first woman of color to direct a $100 million movie (A Wrinkle in Time). Also, Melissa Rosenberg, the executive producer of Jessica Jones, hired all female directors for Season 2. So progress is being made, and our voices are being heard. But we have to stay vigilant.

Movies and TV are one of the most popular ways that we tell stories in our modern world, and we need to make sure that women’s stories are being told.