Golden Globes: Australian HFPA Member Says Black Representation "Not Really Anything We Focused On"

Speaking on Australian television, Jenny Cooney said she "always thought diversity was more about not skin color but about nationalities and where people came from."

The controversy over the lack of Black representation at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the body that organizes the Golden Globe Awards, rumbles on as an Australian HFPA member admitted that the organization did not see the lack of Black journalists as a "problem" and that the body was previously not really "focused" on upping Black representation.

In an interview on the Australian morning show Today Australia, HFPA member Jenny Cooney was asked directly about the controversy and why, given the global discussion over the issue of Black and minority representation over the last year, the organization had not looked to change the makeup of its members before this year's Golden Globes ceremony.

"I think for the HFPA, we’ve always considered ourselves such a culturally diverse group. I think 35% of our members are non-European, from everywhere from North Africa, Philippines, Bangladesh, Japan,'' said Cooney.

She added: "So the fact that there was not a Black member was not really anything we focused on because we were accepting and welcoming everybody from around the world that was based in L.A. that wrote for foreign publications, that was just our criteria."

"The fact that there were no Black members we didn’t really consider a problem, and now, of course, we realize that we should have been much more proactive about really going out of our way to recruit and work with the media, the journalists, the foreign press, everywhere," she continued.

Cooney was then asked if she, personally, didn't realize that the lack of Black members was a problem because she was white, she replied, "I'm surrounded by people of all colors in the HFPA. I always thought diversity was more about not skin color but about nationalities and where people came from."

She added that since the journalists were writing for specifically foreign publications, she didn't understand that, "we had to go and find a Black person. It sounded very strange."

When asked what the HFPA was doing to address the lack of Black representation, Cooney said the body was having a "dialogue" with Times Up and other organizations to fix the situation.

The hosts again pressed Cooney on why the HFPA failed to act despite the Black Lives Matter protests last year, and she said that COVID-19 had caused the body problems and also laid some blame at the door of the MPA.

''Keep in mind all the members of the HFPA have to be vetted first by the Motion Picture Association. It was a way of us making sure all of our members were legit journalists, and the MPAA did not have a Black member in their national directory at all," Cooney said.

The controversy blew up before the Golden Globes ceremony when the Los Angeles Times reported that the HFPA had no Black journalists amongst its 87 strong membership and further reports emerged that there had been no Black members since 2002.

At Sunday's Golden Globes, after taking shots from hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as well as a number of presenters and winners, the HFPA made a cursory acknowledgment to the mounting backlash over its lack of diversity.

"We recognize we have our own work to do," said Helen Hoehne of Germany. "Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization."

Former HFPA president Meher Tatna of India agreed. "We must ensure everyone gets a seat at our table."

"That means creating an environment where diversity is the norm, not an exception," Turkish member Ali Sar concurred, without offering any more details about how or when the HFPA would do so.

See the Cooney interview below.