Courteney Cox Laments The Lack Of Female Directors

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It’s no secret that women are grossly outnumbered in Hollywood in all types of roles. According to an official report by the Directors Guild of America, women only made up 14% of directors between 2012-2013, but that number has been pretty much the same for the past few years.

Across the pond in the UK, the number is (sadly) the exact same. Women are only 14% of the directors in the UK industry, according to a report by Directors UK.

Thankfully this issue is being addressed in Hollywood by the DGA. In 2013 the DGA Women’s Proposals Committee drew up a detailed proposal to include women’s issues in the 2014 Guild-studio Collective Bargaining negotiations.

Primary to the proposal was that, if female directors are to move forward, they need a program solely dedicated to the advancement of women, according to Women Directors in Hollywood.

The current mandate by the DGA states that the industry must make an effort to diversify, but that could mean an ethnic male gets hired, and women are still left out of the picture, so they are working to bring in a specific directive that will benefit women solely.

If the DGA and the studios agree to create a distinct program for women, the studios will then have a legal obligation to hire more female directors. Under the two-pie system, studios would have to BOTH increase ethnic minority hires and female hires.

Recent DGA statistics showed that in 2013 the employment of women directors of ethnicity had dropped from a “criminally” low 4% to 2%. Why is this so low? Why are so few women hired in the industry?

Today, only 13.6% of the DGA director category is comprised of women, but the pool of eligible women from which show-runners and executives hire directors, is actually much larger.

What will it take to change that 14% to a number much higher? Actress Courteney Cox is one celebrity who is speaking out in favor of hiring more women.

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She has directed several episodes of her hit TV show ‘Cougartown’ and will make her feature film directorial debut with ‘Just Before I Go’. She told Hello! Magazine in the UK while doing press for the film that she doesn’t understand why there are so few women.

“There’s a lack of a lot of things that women have not had the opportunity to do, but times are really changing. I think in the way we raise our children now, they’re raised with such confidence and drive and so different, so hopefully that will change.”

She added: “I hope there are more women directors. If women want to direct, they should be out doing it because it sure is fulfilling.”

In an interview with Indiewire’s ‘Women and Hollywood’ blog about her new film, Courteney gives her advice for other female directors.

“Have thick skin, trust your instincts and your vision. Ideally, there will be a time when this is no longer a question.”

Courteney is not alone in her category being a celeb-turned-director. Actress Eva Longoria has come a long way since her ‘Desperate Housewives’ days, creating her own hit drama series ‘Devious Maids’ and making her own directorial debut with a short film called ‘Out of the Blue’ which was part of Ron Howard’s Project Imagination with Canon.
She spoke about being in favor of seeing more female producers and directors, saying: ““If [women] don’t get behind the camera as producers and directors, our stories will never truly be told.”The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has recently called attention to the rampant discrimination faced by female directors.  As the Melissa Goodman, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Southern California wrote:“Gender bias – like all forms of bias – is complex and hard to dismantle, but the statistics alone strongly suggest that more action is needed in the industry. The DGA says it is working to address the problem and reportedly has new diversity agreements with the studios that strengthen enforcement and require improved programs to help women and people of color break into directing work (…) No doubt truly effective diversity programs and real enforcement of these agreements (and employers’ legal obligation not to engage in sex discrimination) would make a real difference.”

It’s not going to be a quick fix, nor is there one simple solution. But women who want to direct, produce, write etc cannot give up. We need to keep pushing through if we want the odds to be in our favor. Women don’t give up easily, history certainly shows that on all fronts. Hopefully one day we will get to a stage where gender isn’t a factor in hiring someone in Hollywood behind the scenes. Until then, we hope more celebs like Courteney, Eva and others will continue to speak up and use their platform to encourage more women to come to battle with them.

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