Scarlett Johansson, citing ‘sexist’ treatment, calls for Hollywood to ‘step back’ from Golden Globes

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson makes her arrival at the 89th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood in 2017.
(Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Scarlett Johansson has joined a growing Hollywood call to ditch the embattled Golden Globes, slamming past “sexist questions and remarks” from member journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and calling for the industry to “step back” from the annual awards.

In a statement released Saturday, the Oscar-nominated actress revealed that her negative experiences with journalist members of the HFPA, which produces the Golden Globes, led to her refusal to participate in the group’s events. Johansson has received four career Globes nods to date, most recently in 2020 for her work in “Marriage Story.”

“As an actor promoting a film, one is expected to participate in awards season by attending press conferences as well as awards shows,” Johansson said. “In the past, this has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment. It is the exact reason why I, for many years, refused to participate in their conferences.”


A day after the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. voted for sweeping reforms, Time’s Up and a coalition of publicists ratchet up pressure on the group.

May 7, 2021

The “Black Widow” star urged the industry to divest from the awards body barring “necessary fundamental reform.”

“The HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of [former mogul] Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition and the industry followed suit,” Johansson said. “Unless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA and focus on the importance and strength of unity within our unions and the industry as a whole.”

Johansson is the latest A-lister adding a voice to a swiftly growing chorus to boycott the glitzy Golden Globes, from the Hollywood stars and studios who have given them cultural currency for nearly 80 years. A coalition of more than 100 publicity agencies this week said they will continue to keep stars away from HFPA events until the group implements major reforms.

Months of sharp criticism have plagued the HFPA following a Feb. 21 Times investigation detailing allegations of ethical and financial improprieties within the association, as well as the revelation that the 86-member group — which controls one of the film industry’s most lucrative and prestigious awards — has no Black members.

After a Times investigation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. vowed to make sweeping changes, but the group behind the Golden Globes has struggled along the way.

May 2, 2021

HFPA members voted Thursday to adopt proposed reforms in response to the criticism. But the reforms were castigated as “window-dressing platitudes” by Time’s Up President and Chief Executive Tina Tchen.


On Friday, fellow Oscar-nominee Mark Ruffalo, who won the Golden Globe for best actor in a limited series this year for “I Know This Much Is True,” called the measures “discouraging.”

“It’s discouraging to see the HFPA, which has gained prominence and profited handsomely from their involvement with filmmakers and actors, resist the change that is being asked of them from many of the groups that have been most disenfranchised by their culture of secrecy and exclusion,” Ruffalo said. “Now is the time to step up and right the wrongs of the past. Honestly, as a recent winner of a Golden Globe, I cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award.”

Also Friday, Netflix head Ted Sarandos, whose company dominated Globes wins at the 2021 awards, distanced the streamer from the HFPA until further notice. The move drew support from Ava DuVernay, Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes on Twitter.

“Today’s vote is an important first step,” Sarandos wrote in a letter first reported by Deadline. “However, we don’t believe these proposed new policies — particularly around the size and speed of membership growth — will tackle the HFPA’s systemic diversity and inclusion challenges, or the lack of clear standards for how your members should operate. So we’re stopping any activities with your organization until more meaningful changes are made.”

Fellow streaming service Amazon additionally vowed to stop working with the Globes organization in lieu of stronger reforms. “We have not been working with the HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are awaiting a sincere and significant resolution before moving forward,” Amazon Studios chief Jen Salke said a statement.

The HFPA has said it is committed to making transformational changes and has called for patience.

“We hear your concerns about the changes our association needs to make and want to assure you that we are working diligently on all of them,” HFPA President Ali Sar said in a letter to Sarandos. “We can assure you that our plan reflects input from our supporters and critics alike, and we truly believe that our plan will drive meaningful reform and inclusion within our Association and in a way that the entire industry can be proud of.”

Times staff writer Stacy Perman contributed to this report.