Hollywood Foreign Press promises to increase black membership from zero to 13%


Hollywood Foreign Press promises to increase black membership from zero to 13% by next year after publicists threatened to cut access to celebrities

  • More than 100 PR firms wrote to a letter on Monday demanding change
  • They said they would not provide access to their stars if nothing was done
  • The HFPA – which organizes the Golden Globes – said it would increase its membership of black journalists to 13% 
  • There are currently 87 members and none are black, according to L.A. Times
  • The HFPA says it will add another 13 members to bring the total to 100 
  • It comes a day after the Oscars announced its most diverse list of nominees ever
  • The Globes was slammed again this year for its lack of diversity  

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has promised to increase its black membership from zero to 13 percent after receiving an angry letter from 100 PR firms in which publicists threatened to cut off access to celebrities unless ‘discriminatory behavior’ was brought to a stop.

The HFPA is the organizing committee behind the Golden Globes and it also decides the winners. 

Earlier this year, it promised ‘transformative change’ and hired experts to tackle concerns around diversity and ethics following a furor over the lack of Black members in the group. 

The L.A. Times reported before the 78th Annual Awards on February 28 that there had been no black members for 20 years. 

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has vowed to make ‘transformational’ changes including hiring a diversity expert and mandating anti-racism training after it came under fire for not having a black member in more than 20 years

Ava DuVernay, who directed Oscar-nominated film Selma, echoed doubts about how the HFPA can tackle the problem from the inside

Ava DuVernay, who directed Oscar-nominated film Selma, echoed doubts about how the HFPA can tackle the problem from the inside

On Monday, 100 PR firms wrote a letter demanding to know what specifically was going to be done. 

The publicists said that if the HFPA didn’t increase black membership, it would cut off its access to the stars they represent. 

It’s unclear whether or not the PR firms consulted with the stars first. 

In their letter, they said: ‘We cannot advocate for our clients to participate in HFPA events or interviews as we await your explicit plans and timeline for transformational change.’ 

On Tuesday, the Association responded with a plan of how it will change. 

It said it was going to increase its members from 87 to 100 and that at least 13 percent – 13 – would be black.  

In a statement, it said: ‘The Hollywood Foreign Press Association reiterates that we are committed to making necessary changes within our organization and in our industry as a whole. 

‘We also acknowledge that we should have done more, and sooner. 

‘As a demonstration of our commitment, the board has unanimously approved a plan to increase membership to a minimum of 100 members this year, with a requirement that at least 13 percent of the membership be Black journalists.’  

The scandal erupted last month following a report by the LA Times that showed the prolific industry entity had zero black journalists among its 87 current members and that calls to hire a diversity expert to address the issue amid George Floyd protests last year were shot down.

The probe sparked a social media movement, spearheaded by Time’s Up and black director Ava DuVernay, demanding change and shrouding the 78th annual Golden Globes Awards in controversy. 

Monday’s letter from the PR firms also came as the 2021 Oscar nominees were announced. 

It is the most diverse range in the Awards’ history. 

MOST DIVERSE OSCAR NOMINATIONS EVER

This year’s Academy Awards are officially the most diverse yet with a record-breaking number of actors of color being nominated and two female directors receiving nods for the first time.

Biographical drama Mank led nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards on Monday with 10 nods, including best actor and best film. The Father followed closely behind with seven nominations.

Nine of the 20 acting nominees this year are actors of color and it is the first time in history that the best actor category isn’t majority white.

Nominations in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category include Steven Yeun (Minari) who is the first Asian American to receive a nod; Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) who received a posthumous nomination; and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) who is the first Muslim actor to be given a nod in the category.

It is also the first time two female directors have ever been nominated in the best director category, with Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) both receiving nods. Only five women have ever been nominated in the category before.

Zhao is also the first woman of color to ever be nominated for best director. She also got nominations for the film’s adapted screenplay, editing and as a producer in the best picture category.

The nine people of color nominated in acting categories include Best Actor in a Leading Role nominees Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Steven Yeun (Minari), Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee Youn Yuh-jung (Minari), Best Actress in a Leading Role nominees Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominees Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami) and Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah).

The last record for non-white actors being nominated was back in 2017 when seven actors of color were nominated, including Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Ruth Negga and Octavia Spencer.

Viola Davis, who won for her performance in 2016’s Fences, landed her fourth Oscar nomination, making her the most nominated black actress ever.

It follows a push from the Academy to diversify its membership following the #OscarsSoWhite race row back in 2015 and 2016 when only white actors were nominated.  

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