Directors Guild of America President Wants More Than Just Academy Changes to Address Diversity Issues

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Paris Barclay. Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImages

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences responded swiftly to the growing #OscarsSoWhite controversy, voting last week to enact changes over the next four years to diversify its membership. But to other high-ranking branches of the industry, those internal modifications fail to address the greater problem at hand. On Monday, Directors Guild of America president Paris Barclay released a statement calling the Academy's changes shortsighted at best. "Many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted," Barclay says. "This alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve." The DGA has been self-critical of its own whiteness in the past, finding last year that white men largely get the upper hand in TV directing jobs.

Barclay now says that film and TV must give as many opportunities to women and people of color as each industry has historically given to white men — if not more: "Statements, statistics, pleas, and calls for action have done little to move the needle. It is time to be clear — structural changes are needed. Those who control the pipeline and entryway to jobs must move beyond the 'old boy' network and word-of-mouth hiring. They must commit to industry-wide efforts to find available diverse talent that is out there in abundance, or to train and create opportunities for new voices entering our industry. Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of 'approved lists.'"

Read Barclay's full statement below:

The current Oscar controversy has put a spotlight on a condition that has long shamed this industry: the lack of women and people of color across all aspects of opportunity and employment. The Directors Guild believes that the industry and the community should be responsible for telling all people’s stories and reflecting the diverse lives we lead.

Many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted. The Academy’s decisions – to broaden its leadership and membership, and to limit voting rights for those no longer active in the industry – are important actions and may lead to greater acknowledgement of more diverse films and people who make them. But this alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve.

Statements, statistics, pleas, and calls for action have done little to move the needle. It is time to be clear – structural changes are needed. Those who control the pipeline and entryway to jobs must move beyond the “old boy” network and word-of-mouth hiring. They must commit to industry-wide efforts to find available diverse talent that is out there in abundance, or to train and create opportunities for new voices entering our industry. Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of “approved lists.”

A small handful of executives had spoken of their intentions to improve – none have put forward a clear plan of action. Only when those who control the pipeline decide to individually, or jointly, take concrete action will we see significant change.