Closing the gender gap in Hollywood? These female directors are changing the game

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From left, Ava DuVernay, Niki Caro and Patty Jenkins are all making strides to close the gender gap in filmmaking.

It is not controversial to say that Hollywood has a gender-equality problem. And it's especially rough out there for women behind the camera. In fact, Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to win an Oscar for directing -- which she won in 2010 for "The Hurt Locker," and is just the fourth to be nominated. Ever.

The Director's Guild of America (DGA) reports that women directed only 17 percent of television episodes in the 2015-2016 season and currently account for just 6.4 percent of feature films. That number drops to 3 percent for major box-office movies.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been investigating the alleged discriminatory hiring practices used by studios that keep women and people of color from directing positions. The investigation is ongoing, but Deadline reported that "Every one of the major studios has received a charge contending that they failed to hire women directors."

However, it's not all doom and gloom. In this rough climate, there are plenty of women working diligently to create amazing television and movies. Here, espnW highlights a handful of remarkable women making the world better, one well-directed moment at a time.

Ava DuVernay

We'll start with the obvious here, DuVernay is soon to be a household name (if she isn't already). She came to prominence as the director of "Selma" (2015) and was recently nominated for an Academy Award for her documentary "13th," which examined the 13th Amendment and mass incarceration. She also created and was the executive producer for OWN's "Queen Sugar," and directed the Nine for IX film "Venus Vs." for espnW.

Her next project is a Disney film adaptation of the Madeleine L'Engle 1962 book, "A Wrinkle in Time." DuVernay is the first woman of color to direct a movie with a production budget of more than $100 million. So, it's safe to say she's a pretty big deal.

Patty Jenkins

She is directing "Wonder Woman." Enough said. 

Jenkins' directorial debut was "Monster" in 2003. Since then, she's worked mostly in TV, directing episodes of "Entourage" and "Arrested Development." However, "Wonder Woman," which debuts on June 2, 2017, will be her first foray into the big-budget film world. A woman directing a movie about one of the most badass female superheroes? We are here for that.

Regina King

King is best known for her acting skills, including her Emmy-winning performances in John Ridley's anthology series "American Crime," but the actress has also been building a directorial profile. She's directed television episodes of "Being Mary Jane," "Pitch," and "Scandal." Look for her to continue to do solid work and have a big moment in the next couple of years.

Lexi Alexander

She is a rabble-rouser, activist and former martial arts champion. Alexander was nominated for an Academy Award for her short "Johnny Flynton," and was the first woman to direct a superhero film when she helmed "Punisher: War Zone" in 2008. She is currently working on the Chris Benoit biopic, "Crossface," which is scheduled to be released in 2018. Additionally, she has a few television projects in the works. 

Amma Asante

Asante broke through with her film "Belle" in 2013 and has been on a roll ever since. She collaborated with David Oyelowo in "A United Kingdom" (2016) and is currently working on "Where Hands Touch," which will be released in 2017. Her productions often feature women in lead roles, and Asante hopes to continue to do that, telling espnW that "right now, my goal is to tell our stories. I keep that hope. I keep that fight."

Lucia Aniello

Known for her directorial work and writing on "Broad City," Aniello is breaking into seemingly uncharted territory for women -- a big-budget rated-R comedy. "Rough Night" stars Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Zoe Kravitz, hitting theaters on June 16, and tells the story of a wild night gone horribly wrong. The film fits squarely in the genre dominated by films like "Bridesmaids," "Neighbors" and "The Hangover." Aniello's success could mean more women are getting to try their hand at blockbuster comedy.

Niki Caro

Caro is killing it. She's one of the few women to ever direct a sports film with "McFarland, USA" and she helmed "The Zoo Keeper's Wife." Next, she's tackling the live-action remake of beloved Disney classic "Mulan," which is tentatively slated for a 2018 release.  

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