entertainment

Black Golden Globes wins don’t make up for the lack of diversity behind the scenes


John Boyega won a Golden Globe for his performance in Small Axe (Picture: Getty Images)

Tina Fey summed it up best at last night’s Golden Globes: Awards shows are stupid but even stupid things need inclusivity. 

On the face of it, Black talent cleaned up at this year’s awards with Daniel Kaluuya, John Boyega, Andra Day and the late, great Chadwick Boseman earning the top best and supporting actor accolades across the TV and movie categories. 

Their deserved achievements will undoubtedly inspire future generations of young, Black, British, African-American men and women from small towns dreaming big of making it in Hollywood. 

However, the problem is that no matter what’s happening in the front-of-stage, backstage can still be rotten. 

If the Golden Globes were a rotting apple, I’d almost be ready to throw it in the bin.  

The awards could attempt to posit itself as inclusive because, ‘look how many Black people won this year’, but the horrible fact is that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) doesn’t have a single Black member out of 87 journalists.

Even worse, it reportedly hasn’t had one since at least 2002. 

The HFPA is an non-profit organisation consisting of members – journalists – who report on the entertainment industry for markets outside of the US. Membership criteria states that five new members are permitted to be added every year and, to remain active, they need to submit examples of their work.

Not only do they host the Globes each year but the HFPA narrow down the nominations list and decide on final votes for the winners.

When statistics like this are revealed, it becomes increasingly frustrating that some people criticise the existence of the BET Awards, NAACP Image Awards and Mobos.

Whenever these awards come about, there are often social media comments suggesting it’s offensive to have awards dedicated only to Black people only. However, history has proven that if we don’t celebrate ourselves, others won’t do it for us.

So while we should always celebrate the Boyegas and Kaluuyas winning top awards, the wider picture isn’t so golden and ultimately their accolades can be a distraction from what’s really happening behind closed doors. 

When the seedy truth about the HFPA was exposed by the Los Angeles Times, it was like the fog had cleared. 

Now we could understand how Michaela Coel, who delivered one of the most groundbreaking TV shows last year with I May Destroy You, was sensationally snubbed from the nominations list. 

If there isn’t a single Black member fighting for Black voices to be heard, how does a creative like Michaela Coel get a seat at the table? 

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How does a Black woman’s voice get amplified? 

With I May Destroy You, Michaela wasn’t only at the mercy of another director or writer who conjured up the script themselves or adapted an existing book into a TV show – she channelled her own horrific experiences into art and built a village around her to bring that vision to life. 

In many ways if this were a musician, Michaela would be akin to an independent artist fighting for respect. 

Without someone on the team who can understand her experience, that independent artist becomes an afterthought, if even that. 

The HFPA has recognised that it needs to do better and flippantly referenced an action plan, but what does that look like?  

Three members of the association stood up on-stage last night and acknowledged there is a deep-rooted problem with its membership. Yet no one offered a tangible solution. 

It’s almost as if they were only made aware of the appalling lack of diversity after the exposé was published. 

Andra Day has become the first Black best actress winner in 35 years (Picture: Getty Images)

As one Twitter user put it: ‘You could argue they’ve only had a week, but you could also argue they’ve had 78 years.’ 

When the #OscarsSoWhite controversy erupted in 2016, did the HFPA just assume they weren’t also part of the problem? The Oscars may have been the label on that tin but it also presented an opportunity for the Globes to look at revamping their own antiquated blueprint. 

They didn’t and now they have their own campaign hashtag, #TimesUpGlobes. 

The original #TimesUp movement was used to spotlight the misconduct and mistreatment that happens primarily against women in the film industry. 

However, as we add another extension to the campaign, it begs the question of exactly when will the time actually be up? 

How many hashtags will we have to use before Hollywood finally ‘gets’ it and implements change. 

Not just because they have to or to offer a cosmetic fix, but because they truly value a Black artist’s work. 

A blanket boycott of awards, like what happened at the 2016 Oscars, might not be the answer. 

Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah (Picture: Getty Images)

Director Ava DuVernay has pointed out that Black art doesn’t need validation from official boards but can only continue to be visible if those who finance, greenlight and produce films see the critical impact Black movies have on the likes of the Globes and Academy Awards. 

It’s a dirty game but, unfortunately, that’s Hollywood. 

The HFPA has said it is ‘committed’ to change going forward but what’s needed is transparency rather than their sweet nothings. 

The association does not release their list of members publicly but if they are truly ‘committed’ to inclusivity, those who support and watch the Globes deserve to know the faces of those voting for the nominated and winning projects. 

In the meantime, do not be fooled into thinking that last night’s triumphs for Black actors means change has happened. 

Each of those wins were undeniably well-earned and the actors deserve to be applauded but, we haven’t yet reached a resolution. 

I’m willing to give the Globes – and any other awards that want to step up to the plate – a chance to overhaul their voting processes to ensure a fair and diverse representation of what cinema looks like today. 

We need to at least hope that the film industry has the capability to move in the right direction, otherwise the only other option is to throw away the Globes and all the other bad apples in Hollywood. 

Metro.co.uk has contacted the Golden Globes for comment.

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