Scarlet, Sistine and Sophia Stallone were lounging in the living room of their family’s Beverly Hills estate when their father — that would be Sylvester — announced that he’d just been on the phone with Lorenzo Soria, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The trio, ages 14, 18 and 20 (more about them here), had been chosen to share the honor of being 2017’s Miss Golden Globe.
“We all started screaming and jumping up and down, music blasting, dogs barking,” recalls eldest sib Sophia. “We didn’t think we would get it.” Perhaps they did not, but just about anyone else could have scanned the checklist — stunning, personable, fruit of the loins of a genuine Hollywood legend (and 2016 Golden Globe winner for Creed) — and seen the Stallone girls as shoo-ins.
In truth, the competition for Miss Golden Globe — the young women (and sometimes young men) who help hand out trophies and escort the winners on and off the stage at the HFPA’s annual awards ceremony — can get hairy. It may not be a speaking part, but it’s still a gig performing onstage at one of the biggest awards shows of the year, a chance to make a first impression not just on the Hollywood elite but on millions of viewers (18.5 million in the U.S. alone in 2016). For many actresses — Anne Archer (1971), Laura Dern (1982), and Melanie Griffith (1975) and her daughter Dakota Johnson (2006) — it’s among the very first screen credits on their résumé, while for others, like Candace Savalas (1987), Lisabeth Shatner (1985) and Lily Costner (2004), it’s also the last.
To qualify for the title, candidates must be poised, polished and harbor the DNA of a bona fide A-lister, although lineage has not always been among the criteria. When the HFPA first created the title in 1963, the honor was bestowed upon a pair of more or less randomly selected up-and-coming actresses, one from the world of film and one from TV: Donna Douglas (Elly May on The Beverly Hillbillies) and Eva Six (a Hungarian actress whose career didn’t quite pan out). “It was the very first award ceremony I ever attended,” says Linda Evans, Miss Golden Globe 1964, of her memorable night schlepping shiny hardware. “It was something MGM arranged for me to do,” recalls the 74-year-old Dynasty star. “They dressed me up, sent me there, I gave out the awards — and the rest is history.”
In 1971, though, the HFPA made a change: From that time forward, the title would be granted only to the offspring of the stars, preferably those with two famous parents. The shrewd move began what’s since become a Hollywood birthright and sparked a vigorous free-market competition among the town’s co-mingling gene pools. The next big change came 24 years later, when, in 1995, the club went co-ed, naming John Clark Gable, Clark Gable’s only son, the first Mr. Golden Globe (then 34, he also was the oldest ever chosen). “Truly an honor,” says Gable of the experience. “For the first time, they asked a male heir.”
The custom is not without its fans. “I love the Miss Golden Globe tradition. So retro. So old Hollywood. So ‘A Star Is Born,'” says New York awards season event planner Peggy Siegal. As for any aroma of entitlement, longtime Oscars head writer Bruce Vilanch is quick to wave it off: “Please — nepotism has never been hotter. Just look at the Trump kids! The Golden Globes are always ahead of the curve.”
The process of selecting a Mr. or Miss Golden Globe is not chiseled in stone. Some years it’s a more grueling gantlet than others. “There were about five of them in there,” remembers 24-year-old Greer Grammer (Kelsey’s daughter) of her interview with the HFPA at its Robertson Boulevard headquarters for the 2011 awards. “They asked, ‘What are you doing? What are your career hopes?’ I remember one person telling me that Frasier was more popular in England than in the United States, which I thought was hilarious.” Grammer had just been cast in the MTV series Awkward, and was feeling pretty upbeat about her prospects. “But I didn’t get it,” she says. “I was so sad because I had done pageants before, so I thought I’d be perfect.” Gia Mantegna, daughter of Joe Mantegna, remembers her audition that same year: “[They asked me] about my life and my career and what it meant to be the daughter of someone in the industry,” recalls the actress, now 26. “To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with what Miss Golden Globe was. [My father’s publicist] just told me to show up to this building and go on this interview. It seemed silly. Like, what is this? This is not anything I’m earning on my own. This isn’t a job. I’m just doing this because my dad’s an actor.” She ended up getting the gig.
Other years, the selection process has been considerably more laid-back. 2016’s Miss Golden Globe, Corinne Foxx, the 22-year-old daughter of Jamie Foxx, received a phone call “out of the blue” informing her she’d been chosen. “I was completely shocked,” she says. The same thing happened to Grammer, who in 2014, three years after being rejected, also received a call from the HFPA finally offering her the job. “I didn’t even have to go in for an interview!” she says.
There is no Miss Golden Globe training. Instead, the anointed are thrust into a whirlwind of nomination announcements, red-carpet appearances, pre-parties and rehearsals. Foxx says she “went into complete research mode” when she got picked. “Greer Grammer was the year before me, so I watched YouTube videos of how she gave out all the trophies.” The heavily publicized Miss Golden Globe party — the Stallone daughters’ was held at Catch on Nov. 11, though their selection had been leaked a few days earlier — serves as a dry run. “You are given a welcome by the HFPA president and you deliver a speech,” says Grammer. But those who’ve held the title say nothing prepares you for the physical (and even emotional) intensity of the job itself. “I didn’t realize how involved you are onstage,” says 2010’s Miss Golden Globe, Mavis Spencer (daughter of Alfre Woodard). “You have to give the winner the award and then move them to this mark. Then you have to move everyone off the stage and behind a wall. You’re running the show a little bit — it’s not just standing there being a pretty face. It isn’t as easy as you think, especially after the actors have gotten a few drinks into them.” Mantegna says she worked closely with the stage manager, “basically corralling everyone on and off. One of the scariest moments for me was seeing how comfortable everyone was just lingering.”
Spencer discovered this the hard way after The Hangover won best comedy or musical motion picture and “like 12 or 15 of them” rushed the stage, a task she likens to “herding sheep.” One of the Hangover crew — she’s not sure who — accidentally stepped on her foot, fracturing two bones. And that was not the evening’s only indignity: “I had a 6-inch pair of Valentino stilettos on,” says Spencer, who stands 5-foot-11 in flats. “Colin Farrell was one of the presenters and just looked at me and said, ‘I’m not standing next to her. I’m not doing it.’ I was a bit taken aback. And he was like, ‘Darling, I really don’t mean that in a bad way — but you’re huge.'”
Enduring bratty celebrity behavior is just part of the job. Grammer recalls being starstruck by a surprise presenter at the 2015 ceremony: Prince. “I was like, ‘OK, now you’re going to exit this way, Prince.’ He just gave me this look like, ‘Who are you?’ and exited in the opposite direction.” And Miss Golden Globe 1986 Calista Carradine, daughter of David Carradine, was horrified when Bette Davis threw a hissy fit right before presenting the best picture award. As Carradine describes it, just as an usher approached the 78-year-old screen legend, a cantankerous Davis snapped, “I don’t want one of those faggots to escort me to the stage!”
Some parents are more involved than others. “To be honest, my dad never watched awards shows, especially if there was a sporting event on,” says Gigi Garner (Miss Golden Globe 1988), daughter of James Garner. “I think he asked me if I fell.” Clint Eastwood has had two daughters in the club — Kathryn and Francesca — but didn’t attend their ceremonies. “Those awards shows are very intense, and I didn’t see any need to subject him to that,” says Francesca, whose mother, actress Frances Fisher, did attend. “She’s into that stuff — getting dressed up and all that.”
A younger generation of star parents gets in on the fun. “My dad was so excited for me,” says Corinne Foxx. “His advice was to always live in the moment. And don’t worry if you trip.” (She didn’t — nor, impressively, has any other Miss Golden Globe; nevertheless, face-planting remains the No. 1 Miss Golden Globe phobia.) It wasn’t until Mantegna saw her dad’s overjoyed reaction that the significance of being chosen fully sunk in for her. “He was so honored,” she says. “It was so much more than just being the son or daughter of someone famous. It was the fact that your parents had a career in Hollywood that was respected — that they are well liked.”
Kelsey Grammer also beamed over Greer’s induction. “I think my dad thinks he’s kind of, well, ‘not looked well upon’ in Hollywood,” recalls his daughter. “The first year I didn’t get it, he was like, ‘Oh, honey, it’s all political. Because of me, they’re not going to choose you.'” When she finally landed the gig in 2015, he was determined to show up to support her — but so was her mother, makeup artist Barrie Buckner. (“They don’t talk,” explains Greer.) And thus enters another potential snag for aspiring Miss Golden Globes: warring parents. “I tried not to think about it too much,” recalls Grammer of keeping her parents apart throughout the stressful evening. To ensure no embarrassing scenes were made, a plan was hatched in which her mother “walked the red carpet, then ditched me for my room at the Beverly Hilton. She watched from there in her pajamas.” Dad, meanwhile, took over once the awards began inside the hotel ballroom. “It was cool to have both of them there — in their respective areas,” she says.
Some of the best action unfolds behind the scenes. Mantegna says she “completely blacked out” when Warren Beatty slapped both hands on her cheeks and declared, “You would be a perfect Deanie in a remake of Splendor in the Grass!” (The movie is one of her all-time favorites.) Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Miss Golden Globe 2003 and the daughter of Andy Garcia, recalls a moment in a packed green room when Nicole Kidman, who wore a prosthetic nose to play Virginia Woolf in The Hours, had second thoughts about a gag. “They had a clown nose and Nicole was going back and forth with the makeup artist as to whether or not she should walk onstage with it on.” (Kidman decided against it.) In the 2015 green room, Miss Golden Globe grad Dakota Johnson spotted a nervous-looking Grammer and lent a word of advice. “She said, ‘Just have fun and look out for people — because the celebrities have been drinking.'”
Touched by her encounter with Johnson, Grammer reached out to Corinne Foxx when she got the gig, and Foxx in turn reached out Sistine Stallone when the announcement was made in November. “She found me on Instagram and sent me a long message,” Sistine says. “She felt like it was her obligation to reach out to me. She gave me her number.” Dern, meanwhile, was at the Dec. 12 nominations announcement, where she offered the trio encouragement. “She told us, ‘Relax. You’re going to have a great time,'” Sophia recalls.
There isn’t any payment for the job, but the honorees don’t walk away entirely empty-handed. “My keepsake is ethereal — the memories stirred by countless photos of those times,” says Evans. A slightly more practical souvenir: Moet & Chandon sends the kids home with a magnum of champagne with the words “Miss Golden Globe” written across the bottle in rhinestones. But the pay dirt is the opportunity to spend an evening schmoozing with powerful producers and stars. Spencer says it was her appearance onstage at the Globes that led directly to a partnership with fashion designer Zac Posen: “He saw me on TV, and he specifically wanted me to be his muse.” Foxx credits the night with landing her a Wet n Wild cosmetics campaign. “I mean, you’re onstage in front of millions of people,” she notes. “You’re going to get noticed.”
Grammer’s career had already been humming along — Awkward was in its fifth and final season when she was Miss Golden Globe — but she got some priceless career advice from that year’s hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. “I told them how MTV had picked us up and canceled us at the same time,” Grammer says. “And they both laughed and were like, ‘That’s good, though, that you know your show is ending, because a) you can end it properly and b) you can go and find another job.’ I was like, ‘Wow, you’re right.'”
But perhaps the most valuable part of the experience is that for a fleeting moment, these children of the stars, who’ve spent their whole lives in the shadow of their parents, finally get their time in the spotlight. “You’re always a little behind the scenes,” says Spencer. “It’s nice to stand on your own.” The Stallone sisters certainly appear ready for their close-up: “This is the first time without our parents by our side,” says Sistine. “The way we behave is a reflection of the Golden Globes. We need to be responsible and mature.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.