Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. She served as technical director on the network’s signature news programs, 20/20, World News Now, and Primetime Live before being assigned to The View. Just five out of 25 technical engineers at The View are African American, however Butler believes she has come across more black cameramen, editors, and producers at ABC than throughout her 20-year career in television. Not to mention that The View’s African American co-host, Star Jones, has been a powerful voice on the show since day one. “My job here has been the most rewarding as well as the most challenging,” says Butler.
Union and guild jobs for people working in television are tough to come by, black or white. The Young and the Restless’ Rowell was instrumental in campaigning for an African American hairstylist (Nancy Morrison) to be hired on the show. Rowell notes the worker’s union (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) is mired with age-old practices that leave little room for new talent.
Garnering industry respect is another bone of contention for Rowell. Soaps have two weekly fan bibles: Soap Digest (1 million paid circulation) and Soap Opera Weekly (288,000 circulation). Both publications are owned by New York-based Primedia, and the ratio of blacks on the covers of major soap magazines was slightly less than 1%, according to Rowell, who says she conducted a three-year study.
“To suggest blacks do not sell covers or that our storylines are not comparable to our Euro-American thespians is nothing short of reckless and divisive,” notes Rowell, who says she confronted Primedia execs. “To diminish our talent by this practice is to diminish our stature within the cast.”
–Additional reporting by Marcia A. Wade
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
AFTRA represents performers, journalists, and other artists working in news and broadcasting, entertainment, the recording business, and commercials. Its Equal Employment Opportunities office works with the major networks to create showcases to identify minority talent. Contact: 212-532-0800 or 323-634-8100
Directors Guild of America
DGA represents directors working throughout the U.S. and abroad. The African American Steering Committee addresses the specific needs of African American members of the guild. Contact: 310-289-2000, 212-581-0370, 312-644-5050
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
IATSE represents technicians, artisans, and craftpersons working in the theater, television, and motion picture industries. Contact: 212-730-1770
International Cinematographers Guild
The guild represents camera professionals such as directors of photography, camera operators and assistants, and still photographers. Contact: 323-876-0160
Writers Guild of America
WGA represents writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable and new technologies industries. The Employment Access Department works with producers and studio and network heads to increase the availability of assignments for African American writers. Contact: 323-951-4000 or 212-767-7800
www.wga.org and wgae.org
ABC Talent Development Programs
ABC offers annual fellowships in feature film and television in an effort to discover and employ culturally and ethnically diverse creative talent, directors, and writers. Contact:
CBS Diversity Institute
The network has two programs designed to identify promising minority writers and directors. In 2005, CBS News will implement a program to develop a pool of minority producers and correspondents. Contact: