Fox has been incredibly supportive, but they would have been happy – not happy but, you know, fine — if I had booked a bunch of really good white guys they worked with before.If I had booked no African American filmmakers they would have said something.
I actually have worked with her as a writer on “The L Word.” She went on to become a really good filmmaker but she had never directed an episode of television.She wouldn’t have been approvable, except that she got into the Fox diversity program and Fox was really excited about staffing a director from their program and giving her her first episode of television. We’ve brought filmmakers who weren’t television directors but who were really in some cases revered and experienced filmmakers.I have talked to many showrunners who want to diversify their directing rosters but they try to book people and everyone is booked, or they can’t get people approved or whatever.What would you say to those fellow showrunners about making this effort?As a point of reference, according to the DGA, 82 percent of the directors hired for “Empire’s” first season were men and women of color, placing it on the Guild’s annual “Best of TV” list in terms of diversity (the guild’s site has links to reports and “Best of” and “Worst of” lists for 2014, 2013, 20).
First it starts with the premise and the will to do it, because it’s not a given. [The director roster began from] my worldview and my approach to staffing anything that I’ve done, but also [co-creator] Lee Daniels made it very clear how important it was for him that most of the episodic directors on “Empire” are African-American. “We need to find the best black directors who do episodic television and staff this show primarily with those directors.”As we were mounting the show in the first season, [co-creator] Danny Strong said to me, it’s really, really important to him that we staff as many women directors as we can. So clearly there are fewer black directors and fewer women directors than there are white guys, but they certainly are out there.When you start with the premise that 30 percent is the leftovers — the leftover [diversity] slots — that’s not a good place to start. It’s always the case that the really good directors that we want for our shows are very busy, and certainly since there are fewer black directors and fewer women directors [since many shows] have a wish to diversify, those directors do get booked very, very quickly.But we just made sure to get out there and find the best directors that were right for the show and book them.This website is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and our firm, and you should not act or rely on any information on this site without seeking the advice of an attorney.We would be pleased to communicate with you by email.Those links are provided as citations and aids to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest, and are not intended to state or imply that we sponsor, are affiliated or associated with, or are legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the links.