Ryan Murphy Announces 'Half' Initiative to Create Behind-the-Camera Equal Opportunities
Ryan Murphy launched Half, an initiative within Ryan Murphy Television that aims to make Hollywood more inclusive by creating equal opportunities for women and minorities behind the camera. Less than one year after launching Half, Ryan Murphy Television's director slate hired 60% women directors and 94% met the minority requirement. In collaboration with John Landgraf and FX Networks, the director slate significantly increased from 12% female/diverse directors in 2015 to 51% in 2016 for the network as a whole. There are women and minority department heads across many departments as well as even staffing an all female art department. "I love looking around my company and empowering inclusion in all departments" says Murphy. "I recently led a production meeting and was proud to see that more than half of the people sitting at the table were women and minorities. That's the way it should be."
Concurrent with the hiring goals, Half launched a Directing Mentorship Program in which every director on every Ryan Murphy Television production mentors emerging directors through pre-production to post-production along with offering a significant stipend for their commitment. The Directing Mentorship Program had 29 participants in 2016 and has added 30 participants in 2017 providing more than $200,000 in financial aid. These funds provided critical stipends for travel, lodging, and daycare for working mothers, allowing them to meet personal financial obligations while gaining unprecedented access to further education and career growth. Three participants in the Directing Program became first time episodic directors and Murphy continues to search for more talent through the program.
Half has collaborated with Mayor Eric Garcetti on creating an internship program to create creative pathways for under-represented youth in conjunction with the California Film Commission. Recently, Murphy has joined Mayor Eric Garcetti's Advisory Board on the Entertainment Inclusion Fund.
Half will be launching Half Fest at the Skirball Cultural Center whose mission is to "welcome people of all communities and generations to participate in cultural experiences that celebrate discovery and hope, foster human connections, and call upon us to help build a more just society." Half Fest's goal is to showcase it's participants in the Director Mentorship Program so that the industry can engage with diverse storytellers.
Half aims to not only be a trailblazer, but also a trendsetter with its operation. All practices are TRANSPARENT and the database of information and statistics are available to all so that other companies can follow Half's model of inclusion and diversity of hiring across every department. Half and Ryan Murphy advocated that giving first time women/diverse directors an episode is not a risk but an opportunity to invest, cultivate and build careers. Murphy added that "I want to mentor and sponsor these emerging directors as storytelling continues to move forward and so should the storytellers."
Photo Credit:RD/ Erik Kabik/ Retna Digital