LOS ANGELES — The 80th annual Golden Globe Awards returned to NBC Tuesday after a year mired in controversy due to a lack of diversity in nominations. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association made major changes since last year’s boycott, but industry leaders say the work is not over.
As she heads into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s meeting space, the president of the San Pedro/Wilmington branch, Dr. Cheyenne Bryant, takes in the cityscape of Los Angeles. This is the heart of show business and, in many ways, the land of opportunity. But Bryant said the city still falls short when it comes to equity.
“Underrepresentation is a deficit for every single person and it’s a human right to have equality and to have equity,” she explained.
This is across the board, Bryant said, but particularly when it comes to representation in television and film.
After the 2022 Golden Globe Awards were boycotted, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association teamed with the NAACP to showcase what they called a commitment to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry.
Bryant was part of that effort and said that before this call to action, about 85 people made up the HFPA’s voting body that determined who would be nominated for a Golden Globe. Not one of them was Black.
“Fifty-one-point-five percent now of their voting committee is racially and ethically diverse,” said Bryant. “Not only that, 52% of that 51.5% are women.”
A voting body that actress and writer Amber Dixon Brenner said needs to be willing, educated and open to receive a variety of different cultures and storytelling styles.
“If you have not been subjected to another culture intimately, you don’t always understand the ways that you have prejudice, without meaning to,” she explained. “There is a learning curve to conditioning.”
Implicit biases her late husband, well known film editor David Brenner, found impossible to accept.
Amber Dixon Brenner said it was eye-opening and challenging for her husband to see how differently he was treated, compared to his mixed race wife and kids.
He had always been drawn to dynamic storytelling with a purpose. One of the last films he worked on was “Avatar: The Way of Water,” nominated for the 2023 Golden Globes for best director and best drama picture.
Until his sudden death less than a year ago, Amber Dixon Brenner said her husband was fighting for diversity in the industry.
“To get true diversity, you have to be willing to be a disruptor, and that’s not a fun, safe place to be, right?” she said.
Although much progress has been made, Bryant admits there’s still work to be done when it comes to ensuring an equal playing field.
She points to Black female directors who were snubbed for critically acclaimed films like “Till” and “The Woman King.”
“I think that we are still creating the space of people becoming more accustomed to Black themed movies, even if they’re not Black and also it being a norm in our film industry,” she said.