Mega-producers Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay on Tuesday called out the “ignorance” and self-dealing of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and suggested the beleaguered organization behind the Golden Globe Awards hampered opportunities for Black creators like them to promote their work to HFPA members.
Rhimes, DuVernay and others like the Black List founder Franklin Leonard responded to a Tuesday report from TheWrap about how the organization rejected studio and network requests for press conferences on multiple Black-led projects, including “Girls Trip,” “Queen & Slim” and Rhimes’ hit Netflix series “Bridgerton” — all of which were later overlooked for Globes nominations.
“HFPA rejected our press conference,” Rhimes tweeted to her 1.9 million followers on Tuesday. “Until it was a ‘surprise hit’ (Grey’s, Scandal, Murder -SURPRISE!) And yet they STILL asked me to show up in person to present at the Globes. We’re not the only ones. This is why HFPA’s house is on fire.They lit the flame w/their own ignorance.”
Also Read: HFPA Rejected Press Conferences for Black-Led Projects Like 'Bridgerton,' Insiders Say (Exclusive)
DuVernay recalled her own experience promoting her acclaimed 2019 Netflix limited series “When They See Us” — which earned 16 Emmy nominations (and won two) but was completely snubbed by the Globes. “For the WHEN THEY SEE US/ HFPA press conference, less than 20 of them showed up,” DuVernay recalled in a tweet to her 2.7 million followers. “Based on the quality of their questions, I jokingly asked ‘Have any of you seen the series?’ Crickets.”
She also called out the 87 members of the group for being more interested in snapping selfies with stars and promoting their own careers. “More came in the room when the pix were to be taken, at which time two peddled their scripts,” she wrote.
A rep for the HFPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As TheWrap reported earlier on Tuesday, an individual close to “Bridgerton” said the HFPA initially declined Netflix’s request for a press conference last December and suddenly asked for one a few weeks later — just days before the deadline for Golden Globes ballots. An HFPA insider said the group held a press conference with stars Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor on Jan. 8, just before nomination ballots were due.
Also Read: 70 Hollywood PR Firms Threaten Golden Globe Blackout in Mass Action
In the end, “Bridgerton” was completely snubbed for Globes nominations. The show received two nominations for next month’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, for best ensemble in a drama series and Regé-Jean Page as lead actor in a drama series.
In a follow-up tweet, Rhimes noted that she should count her blessings given the success that her work has enjoyed elsewhere in the industry: “And I’m the lucky one. More important: think of all the great talent and shows out there that never even got a chance.”
The outcry from prominent Black creators marks the latest challenge for the HFPA, which has been battered by accusations of self-dealing and bias after reports surfaced that the 87-member group has no Black members. On Monday, the organization vowed to have at least 13% Black members by the end of 2021.
That announcement came shortly after dozens of Hollywood PR firms threatened a blackout of the Golden Globes and all HFPA events by their clients.
For the WHEN THEY SEE US/ HFPA press conference, less than 20 of them showed up. Based on the quality of their questions, I jokingly asked “Have any of you seen the series?” Crickets. More came in the room when the pix were to be taken, at which time two peddled their scripts. https://t.co/pBWbUz2FZ3 pic.twitter.com/5XbiSeOBDz
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 16, 2021
HFPA rejected our press conference. Until it was a "surprise hit" (Grey's, Scandal, Murder -SURPRISE!) And yet they STILL asked me to show up in person to present at the Globes. We're not the only ones. This is why HFPA's house is on fire.They lit the flame w/their own ignorance. https://t.co/RPZaCa4ty3
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 16, 2021