There’s no denying that 2018 was a phenomenal year for Black filmmakers.
From Ryan Coogler’s extraordinary directorial masterpiece that was Black Panther, to breakout director Steven Caple Jr. sitting at the helm for Creed II, to Ava DuVernay becoming the first Black woman to direct a $100 million film with A Wrinkle In Time, the year saw no shortage of noteworthy milestones for Black filmmakers overall. And while a new report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that Black filmmakers represented only 14% of the directors behind the top 100-grossing films of 2018, the number still represents a whopping 270% increase over what it was in 2017, as noted by Variety.
Unfortunately, the strides being made behind the camera in Hollywood on the diversity front as a whole still aren’t nearly as inclusive of women.
In addition to a noticeable lack of female directors, Hollywood writers rooms and production rosters for top-grossing films also failed miserably when it came to including women. Echoing the findings of the USC report, a similar San Diego State University study reported that of the 250 top-grossing domestic films in 2018, 73% had no women writers and 27% had no women producers, with a staggering statistic of 92% lacking women directors.
Consequently, in looking at the presence of women directors who spearheaded the top 100 grossing films of 2018, the USC study found only 4 of the films total had female directors at the helm. And of course, these numbers are, without question, even lower for Black women behind the camera.
Another blaring statistic noted in the study highlights the mere 46 women directors who were behind the top 1,200 grossing films over the past 12 years; a stark contrast to the 658 male directors within that same pool. Dr. Katherine Piper, who co-authored the USC study, cites the currently low likelihood of studios to hire women directors more than once as a large part of why more women aren’t making a larger splash at the box office—they simply aren’t being given the same scope of opportunities to do so.
“Women aren’t given as many chances to be hired again by studios,” Piper, told Variety. “And that makes it more difficult for women to see this as a career path they can pursue in order to provide for themselves and feed their families.”
Hopefully in 2019, with the tireless work of women leaders in Hollywood like Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, Ava DuVernay, Regina King and others who continue to intentionally create more opportunities for women creatives to share their skill set on large platforms, we’ll see these numbers begin to look a lot different sooner than later.