Diversity Scrutinized as Golden Globes Honor Mostly White Winners

Laura Dern, Sam Mendes and Elton John and Bernie Taupin winning -NBC Publicity - Split-H 2019
Courtesy of NBC

Upsets hit several categories, preventing a more inclusive winners' circle.

In his opening monologue on Sunday night, Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais joked that "the Hollywood Foreign Press are all very racist" in explaining why "many talented people of color were snubbed in major categories."

The winners list wasn't much different. The night started off promising, with Ramy Youssef nabbing best actor in a TV series musical or comedy honors for Ramy. But after that, most of the winners were white, spanning film and TV.

Upsets took place in several categories, preventing a more inclusive winners' circle. Hustlers' Jennifer Lopez lost out to Marriage Story's Laura Dern for best supporting actress, while Parasite's Bong Joon Ho was bested by 1917's Sam Mendes for best motion picture director (Bong did win a trophy for best foreign-language film).

When Elton John and Bernie Taupin took the stage to accept best original song honors for Rocketman's "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," it denied Beyonce a win for The Lion King's "Spirit." Awkwafina was the only person of color to win a major film award — for best actress in a musical or comedy for The Farewell (she also became the first person of Asian descent ever to win in that Globe category).

The parade of winners came in stark contrast to the group of presenters, which offered a more diverse portrait of Hollywood, with Tiffany Haddish, Priyanka Chopra and Salma Hayek among a lengthy list of stars to grace the stage.

In recent years, Hollywood has made a commitment to foster a more inclusive community in the wake of the nominations announcement for the 87th Academy Awards that launched the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015. But efforts to put more people of color behind and in front of the camera have yet to trickle down in a significant way when it comes to Hollywood’s top awards.

Earlier in the evening, Gervais joked, "We were going to do an 'In Memoriam' this year, but when I saw the list of people who died, it wasn’t diverse enough. No, it was mostly white people and I thought, 'Nah, not on my watch.' Maybe next year. Let’s see what happens."

Perhaps there was truth in jest.

(Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globes, shares a parent company with The Hollywood Reporter.)