Golden Globes’ Female Director Snub Makes Awards ‘More Irrelevant,’ USC Inclusion Initiative Head Says

“It continues to perpetuate a lopsided view of talent that fosters the longevity of male directors over their female peers,” Stacy Smith says

Little Women
"Little Women" / Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures

After the Hollywood Foreign Press Association failed to nominate a woman for Best Director at the Golden Globes on Monday, USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Stacy Smith told TheWrap that the nominations don’t reflect the reality of the industry and threatens to make awards shows like it “increasingly more irrelevant” if they fail to be more inclusive.

Smith says a bias still exists that suggests women are not allowed to lead, and that female stories are considered less important. The lack of female inclusion among director nominees threatens to thwart the progress that Hollywood has made in hiring and employment across the industry over the last several years.

“The real concern is, when you have an ecosystem that’s starting to change and a governing body that doesn’t, it really thwarts the effort of the entire ecosystem striving to reflect the world that we live in,” Smith told TheWrap. “We’re far from proportional representation, but we’re starting to see change, and this thwarts that progress. It continues to perpetuate a lopsided view of talent that fosters the longevity of male directors over their female peers.”

The HFPA overlooked strong contenders in the Best Director category, including Greta Gerwig for “Little Women,” Marielle Heller for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Lulu Wang for “The Farewell,” Olivia Wilde for “Booksmart,” and Lorene Scafaria for “Hustlers.” Instead, the nominees were all men: Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”), Sam Mendes (“1917”), Todd Phillips (“Joker”), Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”).

And Smith is not the only one criticizing the Globes nomination. One of the contending directors, Alma Har’el of the film “Honey Boy,” said in a tweet after the nominations, “do not look for justice in the awards system.”

The organization Time’s Up similarly condemned the HFPA.

“This year, there have been twice as many women-led features than ever, with more films by female directors on the way. And yet, as today’s nominations show, women – and especially women of color – continue to be pushed to the sidelines by a system that holds women back, onscreen and off,” the group said in a statement to TheWrap. “The omission of women isn’t just a Golden Globes problem — it is an industry-wide crisis, and it’s unacceptable. TIME’S UP will continue to fight until talented female directors get the opportunities and recognition they deserve.”

In a quote to Variety however, HFPA president Lorenzo Soria pushed back at the lack of diversity for women in the directing category by saying, “What happened is that we don’t vote by gender. We vote by film and accomplishment.” Smith said Soria’s statement is “an adventure in missing the point.”

“What we’re really seeing is a bias or a template or a mindset where females aren’t given the opportunity to lead in the same capacity as their male peers,” Smith said. “There are real consequences, because it’s communicating a double standard. Now we’re seeing studios and production companies hire differently, but we don’t see women lauded and celebrated for their achievements behind the camera.”

Smith said that this year, women saw a significant uptick in directing opportunities, with the average sitting between 12-14% when it generally sits at just 4%. And she noted that many of the films directed by women managed nominations at the Globes, even though their directors were absent. But the lack of nominations more broadly she says has direct consequences on the ability for women to attain opportunities in the industry moving forward or for their films to find box office success and profitability.

Smith said she’d like to review the criteria the HFPA uses to decide their selections, pointing to how Tina Tchen helped to revamp the process and outcome for the Grammy nominations within the Recording Academy to include the work of more female artists.

She explained that above all, the HFPA is made up of Hollywood’s press, and she hopes that enough voices will continue to call out any institution that fails to accurately represent the industry.

“Any system that is unjust needs to be called into account and needs to be held accountable because this is, in fact, a press outlet,” Smith said. “All bodies have a responsibility to represent the world as it is, not the world that is stereotypical or traditional in perspective. All of these cultural institutions are growing increasingly more irrelevant by the day if they do not look like the world in which we live.”

In the 77 years of the Golden Globes, only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director across seven films. Ava DuVernay was the most recent female nominee for her film “Selma” in 2015. Barbra Streisand and Kathryn Bigelow have each been nominated twice, and Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola have also received nominations.