Trailblazing producer Shonda Rhimes and revered Hollywood director Ava DuVernay have condemned the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the embattled organization behind the Golden Globe Awards, for impeding Black from promoting their work to HFPA members.
“HFPA rejected our press conference,” Rhimes tweeted. “Until it was a ‘surprise hit’ (Grey’s, Scandal, Murder -SURPRISE!) And yet they STILL asked me to show up in person to present at the Globes. We’re not the only ones. This is why HFPA’s house is on fire.They lit the flame w/their own ignorance.”
DuVernay also hopped online to share her struggles while promoting her Emmy award-winning 2019 Netflix limited series “When They See Us.”
“For the WHEN THEY SEE US/ HFPA press conference, less than 20 of them showed up,” DuVernay wrote. “Based on the quality of their questions, I jokingly asked ‘Have any of you seen the series?’ Crickets. More came in the room when the pix were to be taken, at which time two peddled their scripts,” she wrote.
Pressure on the group was also ramped up this week when more than 100 public relations firms sent a letter informing the organization they had withdrawn all their celebrity clients from projects with the HFPA until it made a “profound and lasting change” to fix what it defined as the HFPA’s “longstanding exclusionary ethos … discriminatory behavior [and] ethical impropriety”.
According to Variety, the letter reads: “We cannot advocate for our clients to participate in HFPA events or interviews as we await your explicit plans and timeline for transformational change.”
“Anything less than transparent, meaningful change that respects and honors the diversity and dignity of our clients, their colleagues and our global audience will result in immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship between our agencies, our clients and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”
Last month, the HFPA came under fire after a report revealed that it has no Black members in its 87-strong voter group. On Monday, the organization pledged to have at least 13% Black members by the end of 2021.
“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,” the statement reads in part. “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.”