Directors. Producers. Studio executives. Cinematographers. Costumers. From the bottom to the top of the production process, inclusion has proven to be a struggle for as long as the Hollywood machine has existed. And it’s not something that’s fixed simply, or all at once. The instincts and institutional walls blocking access are real and hard to combat. Only one in five shows during the 2015–2016 TV season credited a woman as the creator, according to a study by San Diego State University. On Adult Swim, that stat was one out of 34.
As BuzzFeed News' Ariane Lange reported in September, one source who’d worked with Adult Swim noted, “The lack of female creators was flagged as a problem as early as 2005, and yet it appears no concrete steps have been taken to meaningfully rectify that discrepancy in the intervening decade.”
Working toward inclusion — and the many rewards that come with it — takes concerted time and effort, from absolutely everyone involved. Arrow co-creator Greg Berlanti, for example, vowed this April to hire 50% women and people of color to direct for the series. “It is your burden. You’ll learn that it actually ends up making the show better, and it’s really smart business,” he said to a room of directors in April.
He also pointed out a familiar conundrum: In order to get hired for a big Hollywood job, you often need to have already worked a big Hollywood job. But as with actors, creatives break into the system when other people decide to take chances on them. Colin Trevorrow had mainly worked on small projects and indies before Universal handed him Jurassic World and its $150 million budget. That certainly paid off for them. Currently, Ava DuVernay is the only woman of color to ever direct a major studio film with a budget of $100 million. But she’s not the only one capable, willing, and raring to do the job. Progress requires taking those chances, and in mixing up who exactly is getting them.