In an effort to increase the number of female directors in episodic television, the STARZ network has launched the #TakeTheLead initiative.

In the company’s first “Transparency Talk,” STARZ President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch announced that the network will partner with Alliance of Women Directors (AWD) throughout the program, which includes a commitment to staff emerging episodic directors for their first television directing assignment.

During the event Hirsch said, “We’re proud of the opportunities we’ve created for female and diverse directors thus far, but know there is more we can do. We dedicated our first ‘Transparency Talk’ to shine a light on how important it is to have representation behind the camera. Since mentoring programs don’t always materialize into staff opportunities, we’re excited that this program includes a commitment to not only support, but ultimately hire talented directors who just need an opportunity to put their skills into action.”

While participating in the discussion, AnnaLea Arnold, Executive Director at AWD, added, “More women and people of color behind the camera translates to stories on screen that are more authentic and reflective of our world. By amplifying narratives by, about, and for women, STARZ is making impactful change in the industry and has raised the bar of what inclusion looks like.”

The “Transparency Talk,” also included panelists Mignon Clyburn, former FCC Commissioner, Diversity Champion and Lionsgate Board Member; Liz Hilton Segel, Managing Partner, North America, McKinsey & Company; and Tasha Smith, multi-faceted Actress, Director and Acting Coach.

The event was moderated by Madelyn Hammond, from marketing agency Hammond & Associates.

The discussion also included a look at STARZ’s recent inclusion study done in partnership with UCLA’s Center for Scholars & Storytellers, which revealed that the network is pacing above industry averages when it comes to gender and ethnic diversity in the director’s chair: 49.3% of its directors are people of color and 43.7% are women. The report also showed that STARZ is exceeding industry averages by over 88% for directing opportunities for women of color.


Going forward, STARZ is hosting a series of monthly “Transparency Talks” that will bring relevant discussions to the forefront with organizations and members of key organizations including the ACLU of Southern California, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, California Film Commission, The LatinX House and more.

The next discussion is scheduled for Thursday, May 13th.

The series of talks will culminate with the first-ever STARZ Summit, a day that will showcase the company’s creative diversity and commitment to the next generation of diverse voices.

Applications for the directing program will be available to AWD members between May 1st and May 15th.

Candidates will be selected through an independent process and meet with STARZ Original Programming executives and STARZ showrunners who will determine program participants. The program will be tailored to participants’ areas of development with finalists receiving a staff directing assignment.

For more information about STARZ “Take the Lead” initiative, please visit this site.

To View the STARZ #TakeTheLead Video click here. 

Learn more about AWD here.