To paraphrase and co-opt what Viola Davis said during her acceptance speech at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, the one thing that every member of any under-represented group wants is just an opportunity.
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) have announced that New York’s elected leaders have taken decisive action to make storytelling more diverse, to ensure that the state’s television industry can continue to be a vital engine for the state’s economic growth.
The landmark bill would commit the state to incentivize companies to hire women and people of color to write and direct television in New York, in an environment that favors hiring practices based on who you know, and not always talent, which sidelines countless dedicated storytellers who just need an opportunity. The bill will create a tax incentive to hire women and people of color to write and direct television in New York.
The bill was shepherded by Senator Marisol Alcantara and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo through their respective chambers, with the support of the WGAE, the DGA, and all of the other entertainment industry unions and allies such as the New York State AFL-CIO and Broadway Stages. However, there’s still more to be done to get the bill across the finish line – the tax credit will need to be approved by the Governor, and appropriated in the state budget. The WGAE and supporters have expressed their commitment to seeing it through.
“People in the TV industry have understood for years that enhancing the diversity of writing and directing improves the stories that appear on screen,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “The missing link for policymakers has been putting money at the point of hire, and this legislation is an important step in that direction.”
“For years the DGA has pushed the industry to change their imbalanced hiring practices — so that talent, and talent alone, is the defining factor,” said Neil Dudich, Eastern Executive Director of the Directors Guild of America. “By encouraging studios, networks and producers to discover the talented New York TV directors and writers that are out there in abundance, this bill can be a meaningful step forward in establishing a level playing field for all.”