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Spike Lee to Golden Globes: ‘Put some sistas and brothers up on that wall’

Spike Lee leaning on a staircase railing against a dark green backdrop
Director Spike Lee released a statement on the HFPA’s lack of Black members.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Director Spike Lee is calling on the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to do the right thing when it comes to diversifying its voting body for the Golden Globes.

After the HFPA snubbed his 2020 war drama, “Da 5 Bloods,” and appointed his children Golden Globe Ambassadors in the same year, Lee released a statement to Variety referencing his seminal 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” while criticizing the group’s lack of any Black members.

“The Hollywood Foreign Press clearly has much werk to do,” Lee told the publication. “However, it’s been a joy to watch our children Satchel and Jackson serve as the ambassadors to the Golden Globes. I hope the HFPA understands in order to stay relevant, they must diversify their membership. Put some sistas and brothers up on that wall. Y’all buggin’ out!”

Lee’s children with producer Tonya Lewis Lee made history earlier this year as the first two siblings of color to be appointed ambassadors to the ceremony, which has recently been marred by scandal.

Satchel and Jackson Lee, the children of filmmaker Spike Lee and producer Tonya Lewis Lee, are the first siblings of color to be named Golden Globe Ambassadors.

“I had never heard of Golden Globe Ambassadors and then I had never heard this is the first time the Golden Globes was having [sibling] ambassadors of color either,” Lee previously told The Times of his kids’ groundbreaking achievement. “So, I guess, better late than never — and it’s an honor that it’s Satchel and Jackson.”

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Sunday night’s awards show comes on the heels of a bombshell investigation by the Los Angeles Times that exposed years of corruption within the HFPA and revealed there are no Black members in the organization.

Fanning the flames were this year’s controversial nominations, which drew sharp criticism for snubbing Black talent in major categories. For example, critically acclaimed films directed by and starring Black artists — such as “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” — were excluded from the best-picture race.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” star Daniel Kaluuya took home the trophy for his supporting turn.

The Times probe prompted an outcry from the entertainment community as well as a statement from Time’s Up urging the HFPA to reform beyond “a cosmetic fix.” Among the many celebrities who spoke out ahead of the show were filmmaker Ava Duvernay, “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, director Judd Apatow, producer Shonda Rhimes and “Little Fires Everywhere” star Kerry Washington.

A Times investigation finds that the nonprofit HFPA regularly issues substantial payments to members in ways that some experts say could skirt IRS guidelines.

“Selma” mastermind DuVernay offered her “two cents” on the controversy shortly before the 2021 ceremony, asserting that the “pressure applied to the Golden Globes and its partners from now on isn’t about validation of shiny things from this particular group.

“The truth that’s not often discussed is that awards play a part in the economic reality of Black filmmakers, artists of color and women creators in this business,” she wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “Unfortunately, these shiny things matter to those who finance, greenlight, produce, distribute and market our projects.

“Therefore, everyone must have balanced access and consideration so that the playing field can be more equitable for artists of all kinds, colors and cultures.”

In a recent statement to The Times, the HFPA vowed going forward to be “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, tv and the artists inspiring and educating them.

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds,” the HFPA continued in its response, “and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”

Here’s our developing coverage of the 2021 Golden Globes, the HFPA and the storytelling being honored.


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