Universal Becomes First Studio To Accept Time's Up Challenge To Hire Female Directors

Universal Studios has become the first major Hollywood studio to accept the 4 Percent Challenge to hire more female directors in 2019. Issued by Time's Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the 4 Percent Challenge, which calls on Hollywood industry leaders to commit to announcing one project with a female director in the next 18 months, has already received the enthusiastic support of dozens of high-profile producers and actors. But Universal marks the first — but hopefully not the last — major studio to take on the challenge.

In a tweet posted Tuesday, Universal accepted the Time's Up challenge to hire more female directors. Universal's president of production, Peter Kramer, along with Peter Kujawski, chairman of the studio's specialty label Focus Features, and Margie Cohn, president of DreamWorks Animation, threw in their support for the challenge, writing that they "proudly join colleagues throughout the industry in accepting the #TimesUp #4PercentChallenge."

With this tweet, Universal joins more than 50 high-profile Hollywood producers, including Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, and Jordan Peele, who have taken up the Time's Up challenge issued by Tessa Thompson at the Sundance Film Festival. The challenge takes its name from the Annenberg Initiative's finding that, "only 4% of the top 100 studio films were directed by women."

But Universal's commitment is a major achievement for the movement. As the first Hollywood studio to commit to hiring female directors, Universal has more power to actively support female-led projects under its various labels. Time's Up acknowledged this triumph and issued a statement in response to Universal's commitment (via The Hollywood Reporter):

"Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, led by Donna Langley, just became the first major studio to sign on to the #4PercentChallenge. ... We hope their commitment inspires more content producers to make the pledge and work with female directors. Not only have a handful of the studio's first-look filmmakers already announced their commitment to the 4% challenge, many have already demonstrated their support to work with more female directors on an ongoing basis, and the studio will continue to support their efforts."

Hopefully other major studios will follow suit as Universal leads the way to even the playing field for female and male directors.