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A record-breaking number of women are leading TV's most popular shows

Over the past year, 40% of the directing jobs for the top 200 shows on television and streaming went to women.
A record-breaking number of women are leading TV's most popular shows
Posted at 9:03 PM, Aug 21, 2023

On-screen and off, more women are leading the most popular shows on television.

The ReFrame Report on Gender and Hiring in TV analyzed the 200 most popular scripted series of the past year, and the findings included: Gender parity in writing credits, a record-breaking 54% of series featuring women in lead roles, and a growing number of women directors.

"Women's voices in general are just really coming forward," said independent filmmaker and director Deborah Kampmeier. "And that's an incredible thing." 

During the 2022 and 2023 television seasons, Kampmeier directed episodes of "The Gilded Age," "Star Trek: Picard," "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Tales of the Walking Dead." Starting out as a director in the indie film scene, Kampmeier broke into television in 2019 with Ava DuVernay's "Queen Sugar" — a drama about a rural Louisiana family that took its final bow last year. 

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As a series executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and created by DuVernay, "Queen Sugar" was hailed as a "TV landmark for women directors." DuVernay strived to have every episode of the series directed by women — many of whom were directing for TV for the first time.

"That changed everything for me. I had been trying to get through that television door for decades," said Kampmeier. "And Ava opened that door and changed not only the landscape of my career, I think she single-handedly changed the entire landscape of television in terms of opening the door for so many women."

Kampmeier says a "sisterhood" was born out of "Queen Sugar," and others in the industry have referred to the ongoing successes of the series' directors as "the Ava effect." 

Over the past year, 40% of the directing jobs for the top 200 shows on television and streaming went to women — which is up from 36% the year before according to ReFrame's recent report. And for the second year in a row, the majority of this year's Emmy nominees for best comedy series are led by women. That includes "Abbott Elementary," "Only Murders in the Building," "The Bear," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Wednesday."

"We are creating culture when we're making film and television, and that culture needs to be informed by all of us," said Kampmeier.


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