As the latest step in its ongoing efforts to remake itself, the group behind the Golden Globes, Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., Announced Wednesday that it has hired Neil Phillips as its first director of diversity.
The appointment of Phillips, who is an Entrepreneurship in Education Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the first Echoing Green / Open Society Foundation Black Male Achievement Fellowship, comes just weeks after HFPA announced a five-year partnership with the NAACP. addressing diversity and equity issues both within the organization and across the entertainment industry.
“Neil provides a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity not only in the HFPA, but also in the Hollywood community and the media industry. We believe that as part of our reform process, it is not enough just to make internal progress, but it is also necessary to provide a platform for greater diversity and inclusion in our industry and entertainment community that our members embrace, ”said Helen Hone, President of HFPA. “His willingness to speak openly about uncomfortable things and to set an example makes him an outstanding voice for change, and we look forward to supporting his work.”
Phillips ‘appointment to a permanent leadership position follows a series of reforms that the HFPA has undertaken in an effort to overcome the firestorm that followed the publication of the Times’ February 21 investigation. The investigation revealed the fact that there were no blacks in the group, as well as a number of issues related to the management of the group, its financial and journalistic practices. This controversy led to a boycott of Hollywood studios and stars, eventually forcing NBC to shut down Globes for 2022.
Last month, the HFPA, which has long faced accusations of ignoring black-led projects, announced the addition of 21 members, including six blacks. The new class of journalists is by far the largest the tiny but incredibly powerful group has ever hosted, bringing the total membership to 105.
After graduating from Harvard and professional basketball in Australia, Phillips embarked on a career as an educator, coach, and entrepreneur. He spent 10 years in leadership positions at his alma mater, Landon School, before moving to co-founder of the Visible Men Academy, a public charter school in Bradenton, Florida. He is currently working on a documentary on the race and achievements of black men.
“The HFPA welcomed me and gave me the opportunity to work not only with them, but with the wider Hollywood and media industry, which have struggled to discuss these race issues openly and frankly, without fear,” Phillips said in a statement. “I’ve always believed that love is the answer to almost everything, and if it makes people uncomfortable, that’s okay, because discomfort signals an opportunity for growth and discussion. I’ve spent my entire career dealing with my own discomfort and diving deep into the realm of breaking the shackles of systemic racism and engaging in awkward but productive conversations that can radically change organizations and the lives of individuals. ”
As NBC is firmly committed to its decision not to broadcast Globes in January, HFPA has nonetheless announced its intention to push ahead with its plans to present the awards in 2022. But the form that such a ceremony might take is unclear at this time. and – as a coalition of talented publicists continues to deny access to A-list stars and studios, publicly keeping their distance from the HFPA as the awards season grows, it is far from clear if Hollywood will support even the non-televised event. …
Despite these obstacles, the HFPA is pushing for the continuation of the “transformational changes” the group promised in March. However, introducing these changes into a notoriously fragmented group was often a confusing process. In April, the group’s newly hired diversity consultant resigned days after an email leaked in which former HFPA president, who had eight terms, Phil Burke, compared Black Lives Matter to a hate group. (Burke resigned after NBC and Dick Clark Productions demanded that he be fired.)
In announcing Phillips’ appointment, Hone expressed gratitude to HFPA for its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultants, Leadership Lab International, with whom the group has been working since June.
“We greatly appreciate the work that LLI has done and are grateful for Neil’s willingness to work with them to ensure a smooth transition as our organization evolves to make it a permanent role in HFPA. LLI has helped us change the way we think and communicate as an organization, and we are grateful for that, ”said Hone.