Husam Asi, a BBC Cinematic presenter and member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), told Sky News over the weekend that recent backlash against the Golden Globes voting organization “mostly stems from jealously” among journalists upset they do not get the same perks and level of access to filmmakers and actors as members of the HFPA do. The HFPA came under fire in the week leading up to the 2021 Golden Globes, not only for the revelation that it lacks a single Black member but also for claims that votes can be influenced through gifts.
A report published by the Los Angeles Times noted that HFPA members were “routinely granted exclusive access to Hollywood power players, invited to junkets in exotic locales, put up in five-star hotels and, as Globes nominations near, lavished with gifts, dinners, and star-studded parties.”
Such was the case with “Emily in Paris,” the production for which invited 33 HFPA members to Paris in 2019 and put them up at the Peninsula Paris hotel (rooms book for upwards of $1,400 a night) and treated them to a gala at the historic Musée des Arts Forains. The widely-panned “Emily in Paris” ended up landing two Golden Globe nominations, including Best Television Comedy, while the far more acclaimed “I May Destroy You” was shut out. The snub raised questions around HFPA members being swayed by perks.
When asked by Sky News if access to Hollywood’s top talent and invites to parties and dinners swayed HFPA members into voting certain ways, Asi responded, “I personally was never affected by those.” Sky News reports Ari “acknowledged there is a need for more transparency around the organization, its members, and the selection process,” but he also “questioned why Oscar members are not criticized for enjoying similar perks.”
Asi was not asked about the HFPA’s lack of Black members, which became a centerpiece of the 2021 Golden Globes ceremony. Not only did hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey grill the HFPA for shutting out Black voters, but HFPA vice president Helen Hoehne appeared during the live broadcast to address the controversy, saying, “We celebrate the work of artists from around the globe. We recognize we have our own work to do. Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.”
Former HFPA president Meher Tatna added, “Everyone from all underrepresented communities [should] get a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen.”
The HFPA’s lack of Black voting members drew widespread criticism from the likes of Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Kerry Washington, and many more. The #TimesUp organization issued its own statement at the start of Globes weekend by posting on social media, “Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Not a single Black member out of 87. A cosmetic fix isn’t enough #TimesUpGlobes.”