Just days before the Golden Globes, the organization that gives out the awards is making headlines for alleged financial irregularities and a lack of Black inclusion.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a small group of international journalists, has just 87 members and none of them are Black, according to a weekend report published by the Los Angeles Times.
Earlier this month the HFPA raised eyebrows when the nominations were announced for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards and not a single Black-led film was nominated in the key best motion picture – drama category.
Despite winning a string of critics awards, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Judas and the Black Messiah, One Night in Miami and Da 5 Bloods were all snubbed in the category. Instead, The Father, Mank, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 picked up nods.
Now comes confirmation that the HFPA has not welcomed any Black members into its ranks. Although a rep for the organization told the Times it is “committed to addressing” the issue.
The HFPA has faced criticism in the past for lacking Black members, but the Times report said nothing has changed, even after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy led to new rules and increased diversity efforts by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars.
Diversity isn’t the HFPA’s only problem. A second — and more explosive — report by the Times included interviews with more than 50 people who described self-dealing, questionable ethics, and a recent lawsuit by Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa, who was denied membership.
She accused the HFPA of operating like a cartel that excludes qualified foreign journalists to protect the “professional turf” of its current members, while improperly subsidizing their income. Flaa’s case was dismissed because a judge said she didn’t suffer economic or professional hardship.
Others told the Times, the HFPA divided nearly $2 million among its members last year for serving on various committees, potentially violating tax laws for nonprofits. The paper described the HFPA as offering a “private retirement cushion for older members and a reliable income stream for nearly everyone else.”
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The article also said HFPA members sometimes receive lavish swag and free travel to exotic locations from the studios and networks whose movies and TV shows they write about and vote on.
In response, a representative for the HFPA told the paper, “We do not control the individual votes of our members. We seek to build cultural understanding through film and TV and recognize how the power of creative storytelling can educate people around the world to issues of race, representation, and orientation.”
The HFPA has long been a source or ridicule in Hollywood, yet the group carries considerable clout because the Golden Globe Awards bring in 18 million to 20 million viewers each year. The awards are also a huge marketing tool for the movies and TV shows that pick up nominations and win awards.
This weekend’s virtual Golden Globes will be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who will likely use the Times articles as fodder for their comedy material.
The 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards air live on Sunday, Feb. 28 starting at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on NBC.