Boston University School of Law

Jay D. Roth (’71) awarded DGA Honorary Life Member Award

As a labor law practitioner and the second-longest serving national executive director of the Directors Guild of America, Jay D. Roth (‘71) has been a respected leader in the entertainment industry for the past 25 years. At the Guild’s 60th Annual Award Gala in January 2008, Roth was awarded the DGA Honorary Life Member Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and innumerable contributions to the organization over the past 12 years.

“Being honored with the Honorary Life Member Award was a wonderful thing – it was like the embodiment of how I feel about this organization and the work that we do every day,” said Roth.  “And it means that I’ll be part of the DGA family for the rest of my life, and I can’t think of a better reward than that.”

The DGA Honorary Life Member Award is given to those who excel in the areas of creative achievement, directing or dedication to the DGA.  Since 1995, Roth’s devotion to the DGA has proven both laudable and indispensable, especially to DGA President Michael Apted. Apted has applauded Roth as “a true industry leader, admired and trusted by all sides,” noting that “His skill, his intelligence, his energy and his real love of the DGA and what it stands for are priceless assets to our Guild and the entertainment industry. He’s a remarkable man with a brilliant mind and great insight.”

The DGA represents 14,000 directors and members of the directors’ teams who live and work worldwide in all genres of entertainment – film, television, commercials and new media.  “The DGA protects our members’ economic and creative rights so that they can also enjoy benefits like healthcare, pension plans, credit for the work they do and residuals when their work is reused,” said Roth. “Without the DGA, our members would have no guarantee of any of these benefits, nor would they have any control over the creative elements of their work.  So from a labor perspective, the work of the DGA is tremendously important to the lives of thousands of people and their families.”

Roth’s unarguable commitment and talent have earned the Guild five successful labor agreements, modernization of the National Board and improved management of its core functions. His vision has also lead to the institution of new departments including the Guild’s first Communications, Credits, Diversity, Governmental Affairs, Organizing and Research Departments. Roth’s efforts have not only lead to organizational redevelopments but to physical ones as well – in recent years he has supervised projects and renovations in DGA buildings in both New York and Los Angeles.

“The core of why the Guild exists is to protect the creative and economic rights of DGA members,” said Roth.  “So every few years I’ve had the opportunity to lead that process, together with a member chair, in a big way through the major studio and network negotiations with the companies that employ our members.”

Before joining the DGA, Roth was Managing Partner of Taylor, Roth, Bush & Geffner where he was a labor attorney representing entertainment guilds, labor organizations and pension, health and welfare funds. During his time with the firm, Roth fought for financial rights on behalf of directors and creators within the entertainment industry by arguing bankruptcy cases and securing industry pension plans.

Roth does much to support the industry outside of his work with the DGA. Currently he is treasurer of the Motion Picture & Television Fund; a trustee of the DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plan; a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ Government Liaison Committee; and an honorary member of the Society of Camera Operators.

Reported by Lauren Shiraka