"Equity was a big part of the decision-making," says showrunner Matt Negrete of the all-female team that helmed the series' 10 episodes.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond returns Sunday night to AMC, and the second season of the zombie spin-off is notable because it is also its last. How showrunner Matt Negrete and co-creator Scott M. Gimple wrap up the series while also propelling the rest of The Walking Dead universe forward will be of interest to all the fans of the franchise.

But season 2 of TWD: World Beyond is notable for another reason: The entire season is being directed by women, and that is not unintentional. "Equity was a big part of the decision-making," says Negrete of hiring an all-female team to helm its 10 episodes. "I've been in so many departmental and prep meetings that were either comprised of all men, or where the men greatly outnumbered the women, so ultimately, my decision just felt right on a number of levels."

Below is a list of all the second-season episode numbers, their titles, and the directors behind them:

Episode 201: "Konsekans" — directed by Loren Yaconelli
Episode 202: "Foothold" — directed by Loren Yaconelli
Episode 203: "Exit Wounds" — directed By Aisha Tyler
Episode 204: "Family Is a Four-Letter Word" — directed By Aisha Tyler
Episode 205: "Quartervois" — directed by Heather Cappiello
Episode 206: "Who Are You?" — directed by Heather Cappiello
Episode 207: "Blood and Lies" — directed by Lily Mariye
Episode 208: "Returning Point" — directed by Lily Mariye
Episode 209: "Death and the Dead" — directed by Loren Yaconelli
Episode 210: "The Last Light" — directed by Loren Yaconelli

We spoke to Negrette about his choice, how the cast and crew reacted, and the overall direction of season 2.

Walking Dead: World Beyond
Alexa Mansour on 'The Walking Dead: World Beyond'
| Credit: Steve Swisher/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you set out to film season 2, did you make a conscious decision to hire only women directors, and if so, why?

MATT NEGRETE: While my overall goal was to bring in a slate of talented directors with differing voices and backgrounds that reflected the diversity of the cast, I'll say that equity was a big part of the decision-making. For season 1, I'd wanted to fill half of the directing slots with women, but unfortunately, due to some shifting production dates, we ended up coming up just short of that. So for season 2, I met with a lot of directors — men and women, from differing backgrounds and with varying levels of experience — with the goal of doing better. And when all was said and done, the directors I clicked best with were women.

Loren Yaconelli had directed the eighth episode of season 1 and really knocked it out of the park, so I jumped at the chance to bring her on as our season 2 producing director. Aisha Tyler had just finished directing a Fear the Walking Dead episode, and had this intense appreciation and respect for The Walking Dead universe. Heather Cappiello had also just shot an episode of Fear and brought an incredible passion to our meeting. And Lily Mariye had directed plenty of drama, action, and horror, and — like Aisha — had an acting background, which I always consider a plus.

Over the years, I've been in so many departmental and prep meetings that were either comprised of all men, or where the men greatly outnumbered the women, so ultimately, my decision just felt right on a number of levels. And, in the end, I think all of these talented directors brought a unique part of themselves to their episodes to great success.

Did you tell the cast this was happening, and if not, did anyone ever notice or say anything about all the directors on season 2 being women?

Once the directors were locked in, I sent the cast an email letting them know who we'd booked, and they were all really excited about the lineup. And as the season went on, I also heard from some of the crew who expressed to me how this slate of all-women directors was meaningful for them, how proud they felt to be part of a project with so many other women in key roles — not just as directors, but producers, first assistant director, art director, set decorator, and more.

I have to say, it means a lot to hear so many others express what this means to them. It's really reinforced for me the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion not just in the film industry, but in every line of work.

Walking Dead: World Beyond
Aliyah Royale and Jelani Alladin on 'The Walking Dead: World Beyond'
| Credit: Steve Swisher/AMC

When hiring a director, how much do you look for people who have already worked in the Walking Dead universe — like Aisha Tyler, who directed an episode of Fear the Walking Dead? 

Because World Beyond is a new show set in an existing universe with existing rules, having directors with knowledge of those rules (and how to execute them on screen) definitely gives everyone an extra layer of comfort and reassurance on set. The hardcore Walking Dead fans have immersed themselves in our post-apocalyptic world for over a decade now, and they've developed an extremely critical eye, so if the smallest detail on set isn't exactly right or a character's reaction to something doesn't ring true, it can completely break the illusion of the world. So yeah, experience in the universe, while not at all critical, is definitely a plus. 

What can you say generally about the direction in season 2?

I'll say that the direction of season 2 feels more mature and psychologically complex by design. Our characters have been through a lot. They've had to grow up fast and make some very hard decisions. To that end, it was important that the look of the show reflect that growing maturity, and thanks to our amazing directors and incredible (and incredibly hardworking) crew on the ground in Richmond, I think we pulled it off. 

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