BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) – Following two years of criticism for its lack of diverse membership, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes ceremony on Tuesday wasted no time putting the controversy in the spotlight.
Host and comedian Jerrod Carmichael opened his monologue with a blunt assessment: that he was there because “I’m Black.”
“This show, the Golden Globe Awards, did not air last year because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – which I won’t say that they were a racist organization – but they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died,” Carmichael said.
He was referring to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, which sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests against police killings and other violence against Black people. The watershed event inspired many organizations to create or reformulate anti-racist and inclusivity policies.
In 2021, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed the association, or HFPA, had no Black journalists in its ranks. Some members were accused of making sexist and racist remarks and soliciting favors from celebrities and movie studios.
The HFPA introduced new ethics policies, and expanded and diversified its membership. Among roughly 200 current voters, nearly 52% are racially and ethnically diverse, including 10% who are Black.
Carmichael recalled being called by Golden Globes producer Stephen Hill and being asked to host the awards. He jokingly addressed the discomfort of going from drinking mint tea one day to being asked to be the “Black face of a white organization” the next, and said deciding whether to emcee was a “moral and racial dilemma.”
However, Carmichael said — with tongue in cheek — Hill assured him the offer was because he’s “talented, charming, and one of the greatest comedians of a generation.”
“I took this job assuming that they (HFPA) hadn’t changed at all,” the host said. “I heard they got six new Black members, congrats to them, whatever. Sure. But that’s not why I’m here.”
Carmichael said he decided to host because of the talented people in the room that he admires, calling them “incredible artists.”
“Regardless of whatever the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s past may be, this is an evening where we get to celebrate, and I think this industry deserves evenings like these. I’m happy you’re here,” he concluded.
Among roughly 200 current voters, nearly 52% are racially and ethnically diverse, including 10% who are Black.
While Carmichael hit the issue head-on, the list of winners also reflected broad diversity, and many speeches aimed to elevate diverse talent. Television director and producer Ryan Murphy, accepting a lifetime achievement award, highlighted the LGBTQ+ talent in the room.
On the silver carpet, this year’s Golden Globe winner for best actress in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” Michelle Yeoh and “Elvis”director Baz Luhrmann also expressed the importance of celebrating all the talented people involved in Golden Globes.
“I think it’s important because this is an international Golden Globe, right? It encompasses everybody and that’s something we constantly talk about, inclusivity,” Yeoh said. “So, how can you not include them? What I think happened is that they needed to clean it all up. They needed to wake up to a brighter and more beautiful day.”
Yeoh believes that it’s time to move ahead.
Luhrmann echoed similar sentiments, saying, “I think the Golden Globes has really walked the walk, not just talked the talk. They’ve made real, significant changes.”
“We need them because this is about us all coming together and celebrating the movies,” he added.