Following HFPA’s 13 Percent Black Member Mandate, Reports Surface Regarding Its Rejection of Black-Led Project Press Conferences

Interior view during the 78th Annual Golden Globes Media Preview on February 26, 2021.
Interior view during the 78th Annual Golden Globes Media Preview on February 26, 2021.
Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Do you remember during school lunch, there was always this one kid begging you to share your snacks with them, and after their relentless efforts, you just threw a few chips (let’s say they were Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for the full visual) onto an errant sheet of notebook paper and flung them toward the soliciting schoolmate all, “Here...damn!!”

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That’s how I envisioned the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announcing on Monday night that it will mandate a 13 percent minimum of Black members after a large group of major public relations agencies wrote a demand letter threatening that their clients would not participate in any HFPA press conferences if it didn’t get its diversity act together.

In case you missed it, the HFPA has been under fire ever since it was revealed that the non-profit organization made up of journalists and photographers had absolutely no Black members. Shortly after the publicist letter hit the news and social media, the HFPA responded with an official statement noting that it had “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.”

*Beyoncé voice* I don’t know much about algebra, but I do know 13 percent of 100 equals 13! 13. Talk about the bare minimum effort. I mean, is asking for true diversity, inclusion and equity too much to ask? Well, given the state of affairs of the entire Hollywood industry (because trust me, the HFPA is a symptom of a much larger scale problem), I guess it is.

Anyway, after the HFPA gave Black journalists and photographers their Flamin’ Hot Cheetos under duress, yet another scathing report surfaced on Tuesday morning, via The Wrap.

The Wrap reports:

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the Golden Globes, denied requests to hold press conferences for three major projects with Black-led casts in recent years, including Bridgerton, Girls Trip and Queen & Slim, individuals close to the projects told TheWrap.

All three projects submitted requests through their studio or streaming distributor to hold press conferences with the 87-member organization and were turned down for lack of interest or other reasons, according to individuals close to each project. None wound up receiving a single Globe nomination.

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Yikes. Any industry insider will tell you—while we’d like to think that elite awards are based on merit, the truth is, a huge chunk of a project or talent’s chance of winning is based on marketing. You have to make sure your project is constantly in the front of the minds of a voting academy, whether that be through advertising or press conferences.

Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes took to Twitter to voice their own experiences, following the news.

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“For the When They See Us/HFPA press conference, less than 20 of them showed up,” DuVernay tweeted. “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.”

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I’m sorry, what?! The sheer (and unprofessional) audacity to not only show up to a press junket without knowing the material but to use that moment to finagle a script hookup because you’re in proximity with a successful director?

“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.”

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Again...the audacity. There is absolutely no shame from the HFPA in disregarding a Black woman’s project, yet asking her to use her fame/status to present at its damn awards ceremony. I guess when the house is burning, that coveted “seat at the table” ain’t looking so enticing, is it?

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This egregious rejection actually reminds me of that time several reports came out that voting members of the Academy wouldn’t even watch the films in consideration that just so happened to be Black-Black-Blackity Black. You know, despite that being their entire responsibility during awards season—to watch and assess films that are submitted for consideration. See? This shit is systemic.

Since we’re on the topic of burning, how about we start with that very system?

The Root has reached out to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for comment on this matter.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

DISCUSSION

Grammys, hold my drink.