University of Southern California Study Finds Large Increase in Hollywood’s Black Directors in 2018

A new study from the University of Southern California has analyzed the race of the directors of the top 1,200 fiction films released in the United States between 2007 and 2018.

Out of the 1,200 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018, 80 African Americans were directors or co-directors. In 2018, there were 16 Black directors among the 100 top-grossing films. This is the highest percentage of Black directors across the time frame. However, this jump is almost solely due to Black male directors. In 2018, there was only one Black woman director among the 100 top-grossing films.

When broken down by genre, Black directors were most likely to direct dramas, followed by comedies, and action films. A total of four horror, four thriller, three science fiction/fantasy, and two animated films were led by Black directors.

In 2018, Sony distributed the most films with Black directors with five movies, followed by Universal Pictures with three movies. Overtime, Lionsgate has distributed the most movies (20) with a Black director. However, 17 of those films were directed by one man, Tyler Perry. Perry has directed the most films of any Black director across the time frame.

The authors believe that while the industry has been making strides in the hiring of Black directors, they believe that studios can still increase their diversity by “setting target inclusion goals, adopting transparency in hiring practices, and calling for broader industry change.”

The full study, Inclusion in the Director’s Chair: Gender, Race, & Age of Directors Across 1,200 Top Films from 2007 to 2018, can be accessed here.

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