The Hollywood Reporter and the Golden Globes Partner to Raise Our Voices
“Diversity can mean more than one thing. Diversity can be an injury, diversity can be the color of your skin, diversity can mean standing up for yourself,” actress and activist Sharon Stone said at The Hollywood Reporter’s second annual “Raising Our Voices: Setting Hollywood’s Inclusion Agenda” luncheon gala which was held in partnership with the Golden Globes, East West Bank and the Wallis Annenberg GenSpace, the event’s venue.
Stone added, “If you are diverse, you must demand a position in this business. We are here to raise our voices to demand for you. We demand that you be seen. We demand that you be heard.”
Hosted by the 65-year-old Golden Globe winner, the event gathered some of the industry’s film, studio and media people to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion in Hollywood.
Held at the Audrey Irmas Pavilion, the luncheon gala honored actor-director-producer Eva Longoria (Flamin’ Hot, Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico) and actor-producer Niecy Nash-Betts (The Rookie: Feds, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story) with the Trailblazer Awards. Filmmaker-actor-producer Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Love and Thunder) was the keynote speaker.
Longoria thanked The Hollywood Reporter “for having this space for us because we don’t get a lot of space in this industry.” She admitted, “It feels weird to accept a Trailblazer Award because there are so many women specifically who have led the way, long before me. If anything, I’m just continuing down that trail that’s already been made – Patricia Riggen, Patricia Cardoso, Linda Mendoza, Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins.”
Longoria concluded by saying, “I’m really grateful to all the women who blaze a trail for me in Hollywood. It shouldn’t be this hard. And sometimes I don’t like the word because I don’t understand why we can’t just use the other trails that have been there for so many other people. The fact that we still have to do this to me is crazy because clearing these paths is exhausting and I feel like we deserve a clear path. And why is the path clear for some, but not all?”
Nash-Betts, for her part, thanked everyone in the room “for seeing me. For accepting me and being loved and not being judged for who I love or how I love.” She added, “I am thankful that I could be an inspiration and for some, an aspiration.”
As for keynote speaker Waititi, he quipped, “It is really an honor to be here. As you can tell, there is a writers’ strike so I did not write it (his speech).”
Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) President Helen Hoehne said, “Thanks to all of you for inspiring our business to embrace and prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in storytelling.
“I would also like to thank The Hollywood Reporter for creating this event, for inviting the Golden Globes to become a partner and assembling such an impressive room of influential and inspiring executives, storytellers and thought leaders.
“The Golden Globes has been at the forefront of philanthropy in Hollywood for 29 years. We have donated more than $55 million dollars to entertainment-related nonprofit organizations, academic programs and humanitarian organizations, providing more than 2,200 scholarships to college students and funded the restoration of over 130 classic films.
“This year, licensing from the Golden Globe Awards has allowed us to donate over $5 million to 91 nonprofits and colleges that assist diverse filmmakers and students interested in filmmaking, film preservation, journalistic organizations committed to free speech, and humanitarian organizations worldwide that support refugees and that provide critical aid when natural disasters occur.”
Hoehne then presented an additional $20,000 grant to the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge which is marking its tenth year.
The check was received by Nic Novicki, founder of the Film Challenge, who said, “Thank you so much. I feel like I just won a Golden Globe here. This is like Casino Two I’m in right now. I truly feel so honored. Honestly, this is incredible. I’m looking around at people who are literally changing Hollywood and to be able to literally be on this stage with you and with so many people who are not just sitting and waiting, they’re taking action. I feel truly honored and I can’t thank you all enough.”
According to Hoehne, this annual filmmaking contest provides a platform for new voices in the entertainment industry. Since the Film Challenge was launched in 2013, aspiring filmmakers from around the world have created more than 600 films, which have been viewed online and at film festivals around the world.
Hoehne also announced the awarding of “two incredible artists from the 2023 Disability Film Challenge.
“The first is filmmaker Chrissy Marshall, whose beautiful, dramatic short film Rain in My Head – about a young, queer deaf woman – won this year’s contest.
“The second is actor Joci Scott, who plays the lead in the short-film comedy Smash or Pass, about a woman and wheelchair user and her misadventures using dating apps.”
Hoehne remarked, “We are recognizing these artists for the empathy, humor and relatability with which they told their stories. Their characters and stories feel universal and each helps to normalize seeing people with disabilities onscreen simply living their lives, falling in love and finding happiness.
“With a quarter of the U.S. population now identifying as having a disability, Chrissy and Joci’s work is a powerful reminder of just how intertwined we all are and that the human experience knows no barriers to love, family, success and hope.”
The event also featured two panels centered on important DEI themes. The first panel, “Inside Hollywood’s Shifting Power Structures,” had Entertainment 360 partner Eryn Brown, Funny or Die Owner and Chairman Henry R. Munoz III, President and CEO of Franklin Entertainment DeVon Franklin, Producer and CEO of Revelations Entertainment Lori McCreary and HFPA Chief Diversity Officer Neil Phillips.
Asked by moderator Latasha Gillespie, Global Head of DEI and Accessibility of Amazon Studios, what some of the early wins in Phillips’ early days as HFPA Chief Diversity Officer were, Phillips replied, “One of the early wins is less tangible but it is the commitment in the organization to approach this work with humility. That’s really critical.
“We all as individuals and organizations can be better in this way, period. And that requires a sense of humility and the organization had and has that. The other piece is that though I carry the title with the word diversity in it, this cannot be the work of one person. And so often when someone gets a title or a position like this, there can be a complacency around the organization to say, ‘Well, that’s the person who’s going to do that work.’ That has not been the case with HFPA and Golden Globes. This has been a full team effort.
“Some of the early wins, we have expanded our voting body, which now is a voting body of 310 individuals. When I came on board a year and a half ago, the organization represented about 46 countries. We now represent 76 countries across the world. And that 310 in the voting body include 215 folks from some new countries. We’re very, very excited about that.
“We’ve got these wonderful partnerships, some of which are new. We have a partnership with the NAACP supporting their great work. We have a partnership with the World Bank and supporting edutainment, just some really groundbreaking work that they’re doing as well. But we’ve also had a long history of working with these incredible philanthropic partners, agencies who are doing incredible grassroots work here throughout the Hollywood and entertainment industry community and even beyond.
So, we’re just really, really pleased to support those efforts. And the big thing for us, it’s becoming a mantra. Now, we know there’s no finish line here. There is no, we’ve arrived. We’re very, very pleased by and proud of our progress but we have so much more work to do, and we’re really enthused about doing that work.”
The second panel, “The State of Inclusion in Storytelling,” featured Executive of Production and Development of Marvel Studios Sana Amanat, director Silas Howard (A League of Their Own), actress Amber Midthunder (Prey), President and Chief Inclusion Consultant of LaVant Consulting, Inc. Andraea LaVant and actress Sophia Nomvete (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power). It was moderated by creator-executive producer Gloria Calderon Kellett.