By: Melody Simpson (@Melodysimpson)
As television continues to grow in its inclusivity, the breakthrough year when the director’s chair is filled with just as many diverse directors as the majority of white male directors has yet to come. It may take some time to get there. So while Hollywood catches up to the present day, it’s time to lift up the directors who are making big moves in the industry right now so that their accomplishments can make a wider path for those who will come after them. Here are just a handful of the diverse directors in Hollywood today who are responsible for many episodes of some of your favorite sci-fi/fantasy TV shows.
1. Darnell Martin
Most recently, Martin’s work has been seen on The Walking Dead in the episode “Go Getters” as well as multiple episodes of Grimm and an episode of The Vampire Diaries. Other titles that come to mind are Oz and Life on Mars. Martin has two NAACP Image Award nominations to her name as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her first feature film, I Like It Like That, which in 1994, made her the first African-American woman to ever direct a film for a major Hollywood studio. Up next for Martin? Directing an episode of the highly anticipated Syfy series, Incorporated and as well as an episode of the upcoming fourth season of Sleepy Hollow.
2. Karen Gaviola
In just the past two years, Gaviola has been on her share of incredible sets, from Lucifer, Blindspot, and Grimm to Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Gotham, one wonders why The CW hasn’t snagged her yet for their superhero lineup. It should only be a matter of time for this veteran director who has been in the industry since the mid-80s and earned the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series in 2007 for her work on “The Whole Truth” episode of the hit series, Lost.
3. Millicent Shelton
In 2009, Shelton’s work behind the camera on 30 Rock’s episode “Apollo, Apollo,” earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. Since then, Shelton has directed multiple episodes of Warehouse 13, Dominion, and The Flash – including the unforgettable episode, “Welcome to Earth-2” as well as an episode of The Originals among a host of other titles on her resume. From 2006 – 2016, she won three of her nine NAACP Image Award nominations. Up next? Shelton is directing an episode of Fox’s upcoming 10-hour event series, Shots Fired which was created by two writers of color, Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Secret Life of Bees,” “Love & Basketball”) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (“Notorious”).
4. Janice Cooke
If you’ve seen Grimm, Containment, or Ravenswood, you may have already seen Cooke’s work. Or perhaps you’ve seen it multiple times during a Charmed re-watch. Who can forget “Vaya Con Leos,” when Piper turns every male into a mirror image of Leo so the Angel of Death can’t find him? A classic Charmed episode, indeed. In 2006, Cooke was nominated for three NAACP awards in the same category, Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series for her work on Charmed, One Tree Hill, and Summerland. Cooke’s talent and versatility behind the screen speaks for itself, so there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more of her work in 2017. Stay tuned.
5. Kevin Tancharoen
If you watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Legends of Tomorrow, 12 Monkeys, or Arrow this past TV season, you’ve seen and without a doubt, loved Tancharoen’s work. Before that, you may have seen his episode of Supergirl (“Livewire”), The Flash (Running to Stand Still” and “All Star Team Up”, and numerous episodes of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Tancharoen knows his way around sci-fi/fantasy storytelling. After all, he’s had plenty of time to dive in after switching gears from directing in the music world (and directing the Fame remake at just 25 years old) to directing on the small screen. His career in TV is only just beginning so get comfortable seeing his name when you sit down on your couch.
Who are some diverse TV directors that stand out to you?