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In The Mix
May 19, 2016

Checks and Balances

Success in film does not guarantee success in TV.

Christine Champagne
  • Greg Endries

Oscar-nominated in 20OS for Johnny Flynton, a live-action short she wrote and directed, Lexi Alexander was sure her success would lead to opportunities in television.

"I wanted to get into TV from the beginning," she says. "I purposely made a 40-minute film, which in my mind worked like a TV episode. It was a drama, shot in five days and cost S35,000. I thought,'Now everybody will let me do TV!'"

But the gigs didn't come her way — at least not right away. Alexander went on to direct films, including Green Street Hooligans, which she cowrote, and Punisher: War Zone, but the former karate and kickboxing champ, who hails from Germany, just couldn't break into television.

After years of meetings with showrunners that went nowhere, she was hired by producer Andrew Kreisberg last summer to direct an episode of the CWs Arrow. Alexander worked for Kreisberg again late last year on CBS's Supergirl. "Had he not called me," she says, "I still wouldn't have a job in TV.

"Only now are other people calling," notes Alexander, who directed an episode of CBS's Limitless in February and is scheduled to direct an episode of the network's summer show, American Gothic.

Alexander is far from the only female director who has had trouble getting hired in television despite being eminently qualified. According to the Directors Guild of America, women directed only 16 percent of the more than 3,900 television episodes produced during the 2014-15 season.

"If it were up to me," she says, "we would be hiring professional diversity people who can really get into this and say, 'We have to change our attitudes.'"

While some women directors are reticent to bring up diversity for fear of jeopardizing their careers, Alexander is a tireless advocate. "I was raised to think that your legacy — what you've done to make this world a better place — is more important than how much money you have or what kind of house you can buy.

"And I don't think men enjoy it, if they're really being honest," Alexander muses of the industry's lopsided hiring. "Any workplace is much better off with some type of gender balance."

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