Paris Barclay
Barclay in 2013
Paris K. C. Barclay

(1956-06-30) June 30, 1956 (age 67)
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationTelevision director
Years active1989–present
Christopher Mason
(m. 2008)

Paris K. C. Barclay (born June 30, 1956) is an American television director, producer, and writer. He is a two-time Emmy Award winner and is among the busiest single-camera television directors, having directed nearly 200 episodes of television to date, for series such as NYPD Blue, ER, The West Wing, CSI, Lost, The Shield, House, Sons of Anarchy, In Treatment, Glee, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, The Watcher, and American Horror Story: NYC. He also serves as an executive producer on many of the shows he directs, and occasionally as a writer or co-creator as well. From 2013 to 2017, Barclay served two terms as the President of the Directors Guild of America.

With his ninth Emmy nomination for an episode of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story in 2023, Barclay became the first Black director to be nominated by the Television Academy in every narrative dramatic category.[1]

Early life and education

Barclay was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Raised Catholic, he attended La Lumiere School, a private college preparatory boarding school in La Porte, Indiana.[2] On scholarship, he was one of the first African-Americans to attend the school.

Barclay went on to Harvard College, where he was extremely active in student musical theatre productions and the a cappella singing group The Harvard Krokodiloes. During his four years there, he wrote 16 musicals, including the music for two of the annual Hasty Pudding shows. Barclay attended both the La Lumiere School and Harvard with John Roberts, now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His Harvard roommate was novelist Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha.

Music video career

Following his graduation from Harvard, Barclay worked as a copywriter and creative supervisor at Grey, BBDO, Cunningham & Walsh, and Marsteller. Barclay then moved into music video directing and production through his own company, Black & White Television. He directed music videos for Bob Dylan ("It's Unbelievable"), the New Kids On The Block ("Games"[3]), Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross ("The Best Things in Life Are Free"[4]). Most notably, he created eight videos for LL Cool J, including "Mama Said Knock You Out", which won awards from both MTV and Billboard—and went on to be listed by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.[5] In 2013, Complex Magazine ranked "Mama Said Knock You Out" as one of the top 50 rap videos of the 1990s,[6] crediting it with creating "one of the most crucial links in establishing the cultural bridge between boxing and rap." Barclay was often hired to direct videos for films, introducing audiences to House Party (1990), White Men Can't Jump (1992), Mo' Money (1992), Posse (1993), and Cool Runnings (1993), among others.

In 2012, Barclay directed his first music video in 16 years, working once again with LL Cool J and R&B star Joe on the video for "Take It". Also drawing on his music video experience was Barclay's episode ("The Coup") of the Steven Spielberg-produced NBC series Smash, in which TV Fanatic said that the Barclay-directed number for the original song "Touch Me" (written by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder) "pushed the boundaries from traditional Broadway show to music video level."[7]

Film and television career


Barclay began his successful career in television with an unaired episode of Angel Street in 1992. He was hired by John Wells, who was making his debut as an executive producer.

Barclay directed Shawn and Marlon Wayans' first feature film, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996) – also featuring Keenen Ivory Wayans, Vivica Fox, and Bernie Mac. Although it received mixed reviews, it was a box office success and has built a cult following since its release. Barclay also directed the HBO movie, The Cherokee Kid (1996), a Western dramedy starring Sinbad, James Coburn, Burt Reynolds, Gregory Hines, and A Martinez.

After directing episodes of ER, Barclay directed and eventually became a producer of NYPD Blue. In three years there, Barclay would receive two Emmy Awards for best directing—the second of which was for the episode titled "Hearts and Souls"— featuring the death of Jimmy Smits' character Bobby Simone. The episode has been ranked one of TV Guide's 100 Best Episodes of All Time.[8] Barclay reteamed with Smits again in his role as "Nero Padilla" on Sons of Anarchy.[9]


In 2000, Barclay joined forces with fellow NYPD Blue producers Steven Bochco and Nicholas Wootton to create City of Angels, a medical drama with a predominantly African-American cast including Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Maya Rudolph, and Vivica Fox. The show aired on CBS for two seasons while winning two NAACP awards.

In 2002 he returned to the John Wells fold to produce and direct a pilot, The Big Time, featuring Christina Hendricks, Dylan Baker, Molly Ringwald and Christopher Lloyd—which eventually aired as a two-hour movie.[10] In the years that followed, Barclay worked on a wide variety of television dramas and comedies. He served as co-executive producer and producing director of the series Cold Case, for which he has also directed nine episodes. Other shows he directed in the decade include The West Wing, Huff, Law & Order, Numb3rs, Lost, House, The Shield, Weeds, Monk,The Good Wife, NCIS: Los Angeles, Sons of Anarchy, CSI, The Mentalist and 9 episodes of Glee.

2008 marked Barclay's return to HBO, where he executive produced three seasons of In Treatment, as well as directed 36 episodes. The series garnered a Golden Globes nomination for Best Drama Series in 2009 and series lead Gabriel Byrne won the Golden Globe for Best Television Actor in a Drama Series that same year.[11] In 2008, the series won 2 Emmys for Glynn Turman for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series and Dianne Wiest won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.[12]

Also in 2008, Barclay collaborated with screenwriter Dustin Lance Black to write the MTV film Pedro, the story of Pedro Zamora from The Real World: San Francisco. The film, directed by Nick Oceano, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and earned the writers WGA, the Humanitas Prize, and GLAAD Media Awards nominations.


In 2011, Barclay became the executive producer and primary director for the fourth season of FX's Sons of Anarchy, a role he continued through the seventh and final season.

Also in 2013, Barclay directed two episodes of Glee, "Diva"[13] and "Lights Out".[14] For his work on "Diva", Barclay was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Direction in a Comedy Series,[15] his second Emmy nomination for Glee.

In 2014, Barclay directed the season premiere and penultimate episodes of Sons of Anarchy for the fourth year running. In addition to his Sons of Anarchy duties, Barclay also directed the milestone episode "100" for Glee, for which he received another Emmy nomination,[16] in addition to episodes of The Good Wife, Extant, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Halle Berry, and Manhattan, a Tommy Schlamme/Sam Shaw period drama for WGN America; and Glee's emotional flashback episode "2009" – the first half of the series finale.

In 2015, Barclay served his role as executive producer/director on FX's The Bastard Executioner, created by Kurt Sutter. The show starred Katey Sagal, Stephen Moyer, and Matthew Rhys. At the end of the year, he was enlisted by FOX to direct an episode of Empire, the Television Critics Association program of the year.

In 2016, Barclay joined the Shondaland family by directing an episode of ABC's critically acclaimed show, Scandal, created/produced by Shonda Rhimes, starring Kerry Washington.

In fall 2016, he completed the first season of FOX's Pitch, from writer/creators Dan Fogelman and Rick Singer, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos, Dan Lauria and Kylie Bunbury in the title role.[17]

In 2017, Barclay directed the pilot of and executive produced another Shondaland project, Station 19, which follows a group of Seattle firefighters in a spinoff of the highly successful Grey's Anatomy. The show is ABC's second highest rated drama, and is currently airing its sixth season on ABC.

In early 2019, Barclay teamed up with the Human Rights Campaign and fellow award winner Dustin Lance Black to produce and direct a star-studded Americans for the Equality Act public awareness and advertising campaign. The series, which launched on March 25, 2019, with a debut video featuring Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field and her son Sam Greisman, features prominent figures in entertainment, sports and beyond speaking about the need for the Equality Act — a crucial civil rights bill that would extend clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections to millions of LGBTQ people nationwide.[18] The powerhouse lineup of supportive film and television actors, influencers, musicians and professional athletes, includes Adam Rippon,[19] Shea Diamond,[20] Alexandra Billings, Blossom Brown, Justina Machado,[21] Gloria Calderon Kellett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita,[22] Charlie and Max Carver, Karamo Brown,[23] Marcia Gay Harden, and Nyle DiMarco. The Americans for the Equality Act series is modeled after HRC's successful Americans for Marriage Equality campaign and was awarded at the 4th Annual Shorty Social Good awards, and helped lead to the passage of the act in the House of Representatives.[24]


In May 2021, Barclay directed a virtual reading of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, with Sterling K. Brown, Laverne Cox, Jeremy Pope and Guillermo Diaz.[25]

Also in 2021, after executive producing and directing 14 episodes of Station 19, Barclay directed two episodes of the Ryan Murphy Netflix series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (with Evan Peters, Richard Jenkins, and Niecy Nash). The series surpassed 1 billion hours viewed on Netflix, only the third title in Netflix history to cross the 1 billion hour viewing mark within 60 days.[26]

Despite controversies surrounding Dahmer, Barclay’s work on Episode 6, "Silenced," received wide praise. Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter[27] wrote, "Directed with more empathy than voyeurism by Paris Barclay, 'Silenced' tells the story of Tony Hughes (excellent newcomer Rodney Burnford [sic]), presented here as perhaps the only victim with whom Jeffrey had traces of a real relationship. It’s easily the best episode of the series, an uncomfortably sweet and sad hour of TV that probably should have been the template for the entire show. Tony was deaf and, in placing a Black, deaf, gay character at the center of the narrative, the series is giving voice to somebody whose voice has too frequently been excluded from gawking serial killer portraits." Kayla Cobb said in her review of "Silenced" for The Decider,[28] "It’s not just the strongest episode of the entire series; it’s one of the most heart-wrenching episodes of the year." For this episode, Barclay received a 2023 Emmy nomination for Best Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie.[29] Barclay’s work on the series finale, "God of Forgiveness, God of Vengeance," was also nominated by the Hollywood Critics Association.[30]

After Dahmer, Paris reteamed with Ryan Murphy to executive produce and direct 2 episodes of the Netflix series The Watcher (with Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, Margo Martindale and Mia Farrow). The series was a hit, ranking as the #1 most watched show on Netflix the week of its debut.[31]

Currently, he is directing two episodes of a new Ryan Murphy series American Sports Story: Gladiator, set to air on FX. He’s also in post-production on a feature documentary about the life of iconic keyboard and recording artist Billy Preston, due in 2024.[32]

Work in musical theater

In the theater, Barclay presented his original musical On Hold With Music at Manhattan Theater Club in 1984, with a cast including Jason Alexander, Terry Burrell, John Dossett, Ray Gill, and Maureen Brennan. Based on his life in advertising, Barclay wrote and composed the sung through musical in its entirety.[33]

In 1985, he wrote the book, music and lyrics for another musical drama entitled Almos' a Man, based on a short story by Richard Wright – which had been developed in the second year of the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop in New York,[33] under the tutelage of Charles Strouse and Stephen Sondheim. It was produced that year at Soho Rep, receiving a mixed review from The New York Times' Mel Gussow.[34]

After years of directing, Barclay returned to composing in September 2001 with the premiere of a musical based on the collection of letters Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Called Letters from ‘Nam, the play featured Grammy winner Maureen McGovern, future Tony winner Levi Kreis, and David Burnham. Praised by most reviewers[35][36] and opening days before the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Vietnam musical reportedly hit home emotionally with many who performed in it, produced it, or experienced it.[37]

In 2003, Barclay wrote songs for and co-directed Order My Steps for the Cornerstone Theater Company. The musical play, with book by Tracey Scott Wilson, dealt with the African-American church's response to the AIDS epidemic. The Los Angeles Times call a "moving tale about the human toll of AIDS."[38]

Barclay returned to Vietnam with One Red Flower: Letters from ‘Nam, a reworked version of the musical was produced at the Village Theater in Issaquah to further acclaim,[39] with Levi Kreis and David Burnham reprising their roles. Other productions followed, with the most significant being Eric Schaeffer's "gritty and emotional"[40] staging at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia in 2004.

In 2008, Barclay presented a reading of One Red Flower in Los Angeles to benefit New Directions, an organization that supports veterans of all wars. Maureen McGovern, Levi Kreis and David Burnham returned in featured roles, with television stars Hunter Parrish and Josh Henderson. Although it was not a full production, again it received glowing reviews, described by Beverly Cohn in the Santa Monica Mirror as an "evening that had the audience smiling with a lump in its throat."[41] Barclay is currently working with Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal) to develop One Red Flower as a television movie, now entitled Letters From ‘Nam.

Directors Guild of America

In June 2013, Barclay was elected President of the Directors Guild of America, the first African-American and first openly gay President in the history of the Guild.[42] After the vote, Barclay expressed gratitude for the honor and admiration for the Union's history, saying "I am profoundly honored to be elected President of the DGA.... The DGA has worked for more than three-quarters of a century to advance the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and I look forward to continuing this strong tradition of service. As the son of a glass blower and a tile maker from Chicago, I am extremely humbled to have the honor to serve in the footsteps of the legendary leaders of the DGA like Frank Capra, Robert Wise and Gil Cates." Barclay was nominated for the Presidency by past-President Michael Apted, who said of him, "Paris' qualifications for DGA president are exceptional.... His understanding of the issues facing directors and their teams is outstanding and his ability to resolve problems and create solutions is beyond compare." His nomination was seconded by Steven Soderbergh, who said of Barclay, "This is a great moment for our Guild; Paris will be a phenomenal leader as we move into the future."[43] Barclay was enthusiastically re-elected in June 2015.[44]

Before being elected DGA President, Barclay served four terms as First Vice President of the DGA, where he was the first African-American Officer in the history of the guild. While serving as First Vice President, Barclay was also chair of the DGA's Political Action Committee, whose mission it is to promote the interests of DGA members to state and federal lawmakers. Their top issues include battling online copyright threats and promoting production tax incentives. He also served on the Western Directors Council and co-chaired the Diversity Task Force, whose mission is to encourage the hiring of women and minority directors to networks and studios.[45] In addition, Barclay served as a board member of the DGA-affiliated Franco-American Cultural Fund, which promotes cultural exchange between French and American directors.

Barclay completed his second term as DGA president in June 2017. He was succeeded by Thomas Schlamme, whom he worked with on The West Wing and Manhattan, as well as on the DGA board.[46]

Barclay's work for the DGA continues even after his presidency: he helped create and teaches the Guild's First Time Director Orientation.,[47] and in the successful 2020 contract negotiations Barclay co-chaired the Television Creative Rights Committee.[48] He also serves as the co-Chair of the DGA's Return to Work Committee, which created the protocols that brought the industry back to work after the COVID shutdown. In 2021, he was elected the Guild's Secretary/Treasurer.

In 2021, he was named an Honorary Life Member of the DGA, one of the guild's highest honors, recognizing his career achievements and leadership in the industry. His acceptance speech earned praise for its focus on his hopes for his two sons.[49] He currently serves as the Guild's Secretary/Treasurer.


During his three decades as a director, Barclay has developed a strong reputation as a go-to director capable of working adeptly in multiple genres - described in a June 2011 article in Variety as a "highly adaptive force with the ability to control both TV detectives and scene-stealing gleesters". The same article ranked Barclay among the "Ten TV Directors Who Leave Their Mark"[50] and another called him “one of the most reputable TV directors in Hollywood.”[51]

Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter stated in an interview with The Star-Ledger[52] that it wasn't until Barclay came on board to direct that the show found its "groove", observing: "We had all those glitches in those first two or three episodes [...] We had (Paris) come in [...] and we all just started trusting what we were doing here." Later in an interview for Variety, Kurt stated "The great thing about (exec producer Paris Barclay) is that he's a writer and he's also a director [...] so he can get the scripts and understand the production realities of it but also understand creatively what the need for everything is."[53]

In an interview with TV Fanatic, Glee actor Blake Jenner credited Barclay for guiding him through a difficult scene in the episode "Lights Out", saying "He was just so nurturing."[54]

In a piece for Vulture, television critic Matt Zoller Seitz cites Barclay as one of the few producer/directors who can "manage and drive the medium [of television]" as well as a writer-showrunner can. Seitz explains, "Directors tend to think in terms of images and moments; those skill sets aren't often compatible with the left-brain requirements of managing a sitcom or drama (though there are always exceptions; see veteran TV director Paris Barclay's executive-producer credit on FX's stylishly nasty biker drama, Sons of Anarchy)."[55]

Ryan Murphy, creator of the Fox hit Glee, called Barclay's episode "Wheels" a "turning point for the show".[56]

Over time, many of Barclay's former assistants have gone on to great Hollywood success in their own right. One of his first assistants was Kevin Williamson, writer of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, and the creator and executive producer of the hit television shows Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and The Following.[57] Josh Barry, another former Barclay assistant,[58] was the head of the television department at Prospect Park after working as an executive in Drama Development at ABC.[59] He was recently tapped to be the President of Shawn Levy's 21 Laps Television as part of a major deal with Netflix.[60] Sam Martin, the former HBO executive (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Lackawanna Blues) and film producer (Pariah), and Jason Clodfelter, former VP of Drama Development and now Co-President at Sony Television,[60] both previously served as Barclay assistants.[61]

Personal life

Openly gay since late in his college days,[62] he was a regular contributor to The Advocate for several years. Barclay married food-industry executive Christopher Barclay (né Mason), his partner of 10 years, in 2008.[63] They have 2 children.



Year Title Notes
1996 Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood


As a director

Year Title Notes
1992 Angel Street 2 episodes
1993 Moon Over Miami Episode: "Black River Bride"
1995 Extreme Episode: "Death Do Us Part"
1995 Silk Stalkings Episode: "Tricks of the Trade"
1995 Diagnosis: Murder Episode: "Witness to Murder"
1996–2000 ER 3 episodes
1996–1997 Sliders 3 episodes
1996 Second Noah 2 episodes
1996 America's Dream Television movie
1996 The Cherokee Kid Television movie
1997 Brooklyn South Episode: "A Rev. Runs Through It"
1997–1998 Clueless 2 episodes
1997–1999 NYPD Blue 12 episodes; also supervising producer
2000 City of Angels 4 episodes, also co-executive producer and co-creator
2000–2002 The West Wing 3 episodes
2002 The Chang Family Saves the World TV pilot
2002 The Big Time Television movie
2002–2003 Fastlane 2 episodes
2003 American Dreams Episode: "Change a Comin'"
2003 The Street Lawyer TV pilot
2003–2008 Cold Case 9 episodes, also co-executive producer
2003–2007 The Shield 3 episodes
2004 Huff Episode: "Lipstick on Your Panties"
2004 Dead Lawyers TV pilot
2005 Law & Order Episode: "Ain't No Love"
2005 NUMB3RS Episode: "Dirty Bomb"
2005 House Episode: "Three Stories"
2005 Hate TV pilot
2007 Dirt 2 episodes
2007 Lost Episode: "Stranger in a Strange Land"
2007–2009 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 4 episodes
2007–2008 Monk 2 episodes
2008 Weeds Episode: "The Three Coolers"
2008 The Mentalist Episode: "Red Brick and Ivy"
2008–2010 In Treatment 36 episodes, also executive producer
2008–2014 Sons of Anarchy 15 episodes, also executive producer
2009–2010 NCIS: Los Angeles 2 episodes
2009–2015 Glee 9 episodes
2009–2014 The Good Wife 2 episodes
2010 Miami Medical Episode: "An Arm and a Leg"
2011 The Chicago Code Episode: "Greylord and Gambit"
2011 Big Mike TV pilot
2012 Smash Episode: "The Coup"
2013 Last Resort Episode: "The Pointy End of the Spear"
2013 The New Normal Episode: "Rocky Bye Baby"
2014 Extant Episode: "Shelter"
2014 Manhattan Episode: "Last Reasoning of Kings"
2015 The Bastard Executioner 4 episodes, also executive producer
2016 Scandal Episode: "I See You"
2016 Empire Episode: "The Tameness of a Wolf"
2016 Pitch 4 episodes, also executive producer
2017 How to Get Away with Murder Episode: "I'm Not Her"
2017 Perfect Citizen TV pilot
2018–2024 Station 19 18 episodes, also executive producer
2021 Rebel Episode: "36 Hours"
2022 Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story 2 episodes
2022 The Watcher 2 episodes, also executive producer
2022 American Horror Story: NYC 2 episodes
2023 With Love Episode: "Christmas Eve"

Music videos

Year Title Artist Ref.
1989 "The Rhythm" Kwamé
1989 "Big Ole Butt" LL Cool J
1989 "One Shot at Love" LL Cool J
1990 "Jingling Baby" LL Cool J
1990 "Around the Way Girl" LL Cool J
1990 "Funhouse" Kid 'n Play
1990 "Unbelievable" Bob Dylan
1991 "Strictly Business" LL Cool J
1991 "Mama Said Knock You Out" LL Cool J
1992 "Tragic Comic" Extreme
2012 "Take It" LL Cool J Feat. Joe

Awards and nominations

Competitive awards

Year Association Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1998 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series NYPD Blue Nominated [64]
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series NYPD Blue: "Lost Israel, Part 2" Won
1999 Outstanding Drama Series NYPD Blue Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series NYPD Blue: "Hearts and Souls" Won
2002 The West Wing: "The Indians in the Lobby" Nominated
2010 Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Glee: "Wheels" Nominated
2013 Glee: "Diva" Nominated
2014 Glee: "100" Nominated
2023 Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series or Movie Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: Silenced Nominated [29]
1997 Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing - Drama Series ER Nominated
1999 NYPD Blue Won
2001 The West Wing Nominated
2002 The West Wing Nominated
2003 The West Wing Nominated
2006 House Nominated
2007 Robert B. Aldrich Service Award Received
2009 Outstanding Directing - Drama Series In Treatment Nominated
Outstanding Directing - Comedy Series Weeds Nominated
2010 Outstanding Directing - Drama Series In Treatment Nominated
Outstanding Directing - Comedy Series Glee Nominated
2021 Honorary Life Member Received

Honorary awards

Year Association For Ref.
1998 Project Angel Food Founder's Award from in 1998
2001 GLAAD Association Stephen F. Kolzak Award
2003 US Department of Health and Human Services Voice Award [65]
2004 Pan-African Film Festival Pioneer Award
2009 POWER UP Top Ten Gay Men in Entertainment [66]
2010 Shane's Inspiration Gala Visionary Leadership Award
2010 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Television with a Conscience [67]
2010 Peabody Award In Treatment [68]
2010 Cornerstone Theater Bridge Award [69]
2011 Advertising Age 50 Most Creative People [70]
2012 Liberty Hill Foundation Upton Sinclair Award [71]
2012 In the Life Media Family Values Award [72]
2013 Peabody Award Glee [73][74]
2013 African-American Film Critics Association Legacy Award [75]
2014 NAACP Image Award The Hall of Fame Award [76]
2017 Aviva Family & Children Services Program Artistic Excellence Award [77]
2017 Hasty Pudding Institute of Harvard University Order of the Golden Sphinx [78]
2018 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award [79]


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