Golden Globes’ HFPA commits to having ‘Black journalists in organization’ after backlash

'We have our own work to do,' said HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne. 'Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital.'

After a lengthy recent expose by The Los Angeles Times that outed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as having no Black journalists among its 87 members, the organization says it’s committed to diversifying.

The HFPA chooses the winners of the annual Golden Globe awards, whose choices of both nominees and eventual winners has been called “wildly disconnected” from not only Hollywood but the larger cultural landscape. That description was particularly fitting for 2020 projects: Critically-acclaimed Black shows and films like HBO’s I May Destroy You and Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods on Netflix were both overlooked this year.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has no Blacks among its 87-person membership, chooses the winners of the annual Golden Globe awards.(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“We do not control the individual votes of our members,” an HFPA spokesperson told the newspaper. “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 organization issued a statement Thursday night, saying: “We are fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV and the artists inspiring and educating them.” Officials said they “understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”

Southern California-based journalists are eligible to apply for membership to the HFPA; however, the organization is reportedly considering changing that rule to expand its applicant pool.

HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne and its former president, Meher Tatna, addressed the diversity issue from the award show stage Sunday night.

“We recognize we have our own work to do,” Hoehne began. “Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.” Tatna followed, offering: “We must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen.”

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A journalist named Kjersti Flaa filed a lawsuit against the HFPA in November after her application was denied. In her suit, Flaa claims that the HFPA operates like a “cartel,” with many ethical conflicts in its ranks.

The HFPA said it is “committed to addressing” diversity, but that comes years following the Television Academy and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ efforts and initiatives to diversify after social media controversies like #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag was revisited this year with #GoldenGlobesSoWhite.

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