Members of the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America have moved to form Jewish committees, finding that recent events demonstrate a need for better representation within the guilds.
In the DGA, members have gathered more than 300 signatures on a petition calling on the board to create a Jewish Diversity Committee, which would address issues like antisemitism and employment equity in Hollywood.
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“We want a seat at the table,” said Stuart Acher, a director who is organizing the effort. “The guild looks to these diversity committees as advisers to help protect representation and rights for people of that community. Now, Jews don’t have a voice. No one is speaking for the Jews.”
The DGA has eight diversity committees, including those for Black, Latino, Asian American, women, LGBTQ and disabled members.
In recent weeks, WGA West agreed to create a Jewish Writers Committee, which is co-chaired by Dan Signer and Patrick Moss. That move followed significant backlash over the guild’s decision not to issue a statement condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which killed some 1,200 people.
Hundreds of members signed an open letter calling out the union for refusing to take a stand on the issue, and WGA West leaders ultimately apologized for the “tremendous pain” caused by the decision.
The DGA, by contrast, did issue a statement condemning the attacks.
“We stand against the growing spread of antisemitism here in the US and abroad, and remain committed in our actions, words and deeds to supporting the Jewish people,” the union said at the time.
The DGA members who want a Jewish committee do not fault the union’s response to the attacks. But they argue that a committee is necessary to foster education and push back on stereotypes, such as “Jews control the media.”
“There are so many myths about the role of Jewish people in Hollywood that need to be dispelled,” said Jason Winer, a director who supports the effort. “One of the great strengths of the DGA has historically been protecting its members. While there might have been a time when there was a perception that Jewish people were not in need of the same sorts of protections afforded to other underrepresented groups, the times have quite obviously changed.”
Both the WGA and DGA groups aim to address the depiction of Jewish characters in media.
“Jewish roles are now more frequently played by non-Jewish actors, despite similarly ‘inauthentic casting’ no longer being tolerated by and for other races and ethnic groups,” the DGA petition states.
The DGA group has surveyed Jewish members, who say they have faced employment discrimination and pressure to “make their crew less Jewish.”
The DGA conducts periodic diversity surveys to address representation concerns, but there is no check box on the surveys for Jewish identity.
“We’re being marginalized and erased,” said Gregg Simon, another organizer. “If you don’t have a committee, you don’t have representation and you can’t speak directly to the board. It makes us Jews feel like we’re on the outside.”
Signatories include Amy Sherman-Palladino, Eli Roth, David Schwimmer, Greg Berlanti, Michael Chiklis and Steven Levitan. The DGA group is seeking to have the issue addressed at the Feb. 11 national board meeting.
A request was submitted to guild leaders on Friday.
“The DGA has received the request to form a Jewish committee and will now take that request under review,” a DGA spokesperson said.
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