On Sunday, during her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Jane Fonda, who has always been an ally, activist, and advocate for marginalized voices, talked about how she has seen “a lot of diversity” in her lifetime and that she has been challenged to understand some of the people she has met. It was one of those moments in which the next part could be really profound or take a turn for the worse. Luckily, it’s Fonda, so we know where she’s headed.
She went to address the hot-button issue of inclusion and representation in film and TV and mentioned Nomadland, Small Axe, Minari, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night In Miami, Ramy, I May Destroy You and many other films and TV series that were created by and feature people of color — many of which were snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this year’s Golden Globes. She praised the shows because they showed different perspectives, created empathy and allowed her to hear different stories.
“There’s a story we’ve been afraid to hear about ourselves in this industry,” said Fonda. “The story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out. The story about who is offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.”
“Let us all make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard,” she said, adding, “Let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone’s story gets told.”
Looks like the HFPA didn’t get that memo.
It’s no secret that the organization is having some problems when it comes to inclusivity. We’ve been talking about it all night and in the weeks leading up to Sunday night’s Globes. Many argue that these problems can be traced back well before this year’s ceremony, which tallied a handful of wins for people of color in some of the major categories.
Daniel Kaluuya won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for his turn as Black Panther Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. Even though, as the first win of the night, he had major technical difficulties in his acceptance speech, it was still a good win.
John Boyega scored a win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Supporting Role on Sunday for his work in Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe, while Kemp Powers’ Soul was honored with Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score.
The late, great Chadwick Boseman won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for his incredible performance in George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Andra Day scored her first Golden Globe win for playing the titular music icon in Lee Daniels’ The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Chloé Zhao made history as the first female filmmaker of Asian descent to win Best Director for Nomadland which also won Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Compared with last year’s Golden Globes, there was an uptick in wins for people of color. Last year saw Awkwafina winning for The Farewell, while Ramy Youssef won for Ramy on the TV side. All the other categories, much like this year, were dominated by white actors and filmmakers. This year’s wins can be compared to when people say things like “I can’t be racist, I have a Black friend!”
This year, of the 10 films nominated in the Best Picture categories, none center on a narrative about a person of color or an underrepresented community. However, there was Hamilton, a narrative traditionally told through a white lens that Lin-Manuel Miranda disrupted by telling it with people of color. Then there was Sia’s problematic Music, which could have been an opportunity for representation before a huge can of worms was spilled after she was accused of ableism after casting Maddie Ziegler in the role of an autistic girl.
Sure, there was an increase in people of color in major categories, but the bar was already low — and the HFPA barely met that. This, combined with its weak statement in regard to being more inclusive with its membership and its systemic problems overall, puts even more pressure on the organization to change when it comes to its perspective on diversity, inclusion and representation.
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