Hollywood Foreign Press promises to increase black membership to 13%

Hollywood Foreign Press promises to increase black membership from zero to 13% by next year after publicists threatened to cut access to celebrities

  • More than 100 PR firms wrote to a letter on Monday demanding change
  • They said they would not provide access to their stars if nothing was done
  • The HFPA – which organizes the Golden Globes – said it would increase its membership of black journalists to 13% 
  • There are currently 87 members and none are black, according to L.A. Times
  • The HFPA says it will add another 13 members to bring the total to 100 

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has promised to increase its black membership from zero to 13 percent after receiving an angry letter from 100 PR firms in which publicists threatened to cut off access to celebrities unless ‘discriminatory behavior’ was brought to a stop.

The HFPA is the organizing committee behind the Golden Globes and it also decides the winners. 

Earlier this year, it promised ‘transformative change’ and hired experts to tackle concerns around diversity and ethics following a furor over the lack of Black members in the group. 

The L.A. Times reported before the 78th Annual Awards on February 28 that there had been no black members for 20 years. 

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has vowed to make ‘transformational’ changes including hiring a diversity expert and mandating anti-racism training after it came under fire for not having a black member in more than 20 years

On Monday, 100 PR firms wrote a letter demanding to know what specifically was going to be done. 

The publicists said that if the HFPA didn’t increase black membership, it would cut off its access to the stars they represent. 

It’s unclear whether or not the PR firms consulted with the stars first. 

In their letter, they said: ‘We cannot advocate for our clients to participate in HFPA events or interviews as we await your explicit plans and timeline for transformational change.’ 

On Tuesday, the Association responded with a plan of how it will change. 

Ava DuVernay, who directed Oscar-nominated film Selma, echoed doubts about how the HFPA can tackle the problem from the inside

It said it was going to increase its members from 87 to 100 and that at least 13 percent – 13 – would be black.  

In a statement, it said: ‘The Hollywood Foreign Press Association reiterates that we are committed to making necessary changes within our organization and in our industry as a whole. 

‘We also acknowledge that we should have done more, and sooner. 

‘As a demonstration of our commitment, the board has 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.’  

The scandal erupted last month following a report by the LA Times that showed the prolific industry entity had zero black journalists among its 87 current members and that calls to hire a diversity expert to address the issue amid George Floyd protests last year were shot down.

The probe sparked a social media movement, spearheaded by Time’s Up and black director Ava DuVernay, demanding change and shrouding the 78th annual Golden Globes Awards in controversy.  

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