UPDATED, 7:35 pm: Days before the annual Golden Globe Awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association responded to criticism of the lack of diversity among its ranks. The group was the target of a damning exposé in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday which found that HFPA had no black journalists among its 87 members.
“We are fully committed to ensuring that our membership reflects the communities around the world who love film, television and the artists who inspire and train them,” HFPA said in a statement tonight. “We understand that we need to involve black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will work immediately to implement a plan of action to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”
A spokesman for the group added that the majority of its members are female and that 35% of its members are from non-European countries. The spokesman added that the HFPA has welcomed membership applications for all Southern California-based journalists of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds who write for international media, and has not ruled out its rules being changed to expand the pool of applicants.
Read more details below.
PREVIOUS February 21: It’s no secret that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a very divisive entity in the film and television industries. Some celebrate it, others think it is a joke. No matter what you think, the elusive organization that includes eighty members of the international press, ranging from unknown to truly unknown, retains its power as we are a week away from the HFPA’s 78th annual Golden Globe Awards, one of the most famous awards ceremony in the industry.
The choice of HFPA for nominees this year has always been questionable, as they seem to be completely disconnected from the zeitgeist of Hollywood and the cultural landscape overall. This year’s nominees may have been the last straw as there were blatant omissions that caused more uproar than usual – especially on critically acclaimed series and films like I can destroy you and Since 5 Bloods.
The Los Angeles times with not one but two articles dug deep into the heart of the HFPA and found that even its own members question the organization’s actions.
Regarding the shortage of black members, the HFPA only had to say that they were aware of it and “committed to addressing” it. It should be noted that the Television Academy and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as the many guilds, have openly addressed the lack of diversity in Hollywood. It may move slowly, but it’s there.
Regarding criticism of the lack of Schwarz-led projects on their nomination list, an HFPA spokesman told the L. A. Times: “We do not control the individual voices of our members. We are trying to build cultural understanding through film and television and to see how the power of creative storytelling can educate people around the world on issues of race, representation and orientation. “
Journalist Kjersti Flaa filed a lawsuit against the HFPA in November. She was denied membership in the organization and the HFPA was accused of having a “culture of corruption”. She even claimed that the HFPA operated like a cartel with many ethical conflicts hidden behind a “code of silence”.
The L. A. Times did their due diligence and spoke to them. more than 50 people including publicists, executives, and current and former members, and this has not helped the HFPA’s reputation. This includes findings that the HFPA has made significant payments to its own members that are questionable and may conflict with Internal Revenue Service guidelines. According to the L. A. TimesHFPA members raised nearly $ 2 million in payments for committees and other duties in the fiscal year ended June 2020. This is twice as much as three years ago.
One of the members told this LA times: “It’s a nice idea to take the money from NBC and use it for good causes like classes and restoring films. But the spirit now exists to milk the organization and take the money.” It’s outrageous. “
An HFPA representative replied, “None of these allegations have ever been proven in a court of law or an investigation. [and they] Just echo ancient tropes about the HFPA, reflecting unconscious prejudices about the diverse membership of the HFPA. “
The organization also said, “Our compensation decisions are based on an assessment of compensation practices by similar nonprofits and the market prices for such services.” They added that their compensation is “reviewed by a professional nonprofit compensation advisor and, if necessary, an outside attorney.”
Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.