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Scarlett Johansson Urges Industry to ‘Step Back’ From the HFPA

·4-min read

Scarlett Johansson has spoken out against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, urging the industry to “step back” from the organization until it puts more substantial reforms in place.

Amazon Studios has also issued a statement, echoing the recent criticism from Netflix, Time’s Up and others regarding the HFPA’s latest reform plan. The plan, which was approved on Thursday, includes measures to increase the number of people of color in its membership and restrictions on gifts and payment for members’ work on committees.

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In a statement to Variety on Saturday, Johansson revealed that she has shied away from HFPA press conferences due to “sexist questions and remarks,” and said that she believes the industry should distance itself from the organization unless further reforms are implemented.

“As an actor promoting a film, one is expected to participate in awards season by attending press conferences as well as awards shows. 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,” Johansson said. “The HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition and the industry followed suit. 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.”

Meanwhile, Amazon Studios said that it is awaiting significant change before resuming work with the HFPA, which puts on the Golden Globes each year.

“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,” an Amazon Studios spokesperson said in a statement.

Representatives for the HFPA did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

On Friday, a group of more than 100 publicists expressed their concerns about the HFPA’s overhaul, writing: “We will continue to refrain from any HFPA sanctioned events, including press conferences, unless and until these issues are illuminated in detail with a firm commitment to a timeline that respects the looming 2022 season reality.”

Golden Globe winner Mark Ruffalo chimed in on Twitter, saying that he “cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award” unless the organization “steps up.”

Two-time Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo shared a statement on Instagram, saying “The timeline proposed by the HFPA fails to commit to the urgent reform necessary in time to impact the 2022 Golden Globes. We will refrain from any HFPA-sanctioned event until your organization meets its responsibility to our creative community.”

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent a letter to the HFPA’s leadership committee on Friday, which reads: “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. Netflix and many of the talent and creators we work with cannot ignore the HFPA’s collective failure to address these crucial issues with urgency and rigor.”

HFPA President Ali Sar responded to Sarandos’ letter, writing that the organization has “always valued our relationship with Netflix as we seek to bring news about motion pictures and television to the world. 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.”

The HFPA first came under fire in February after a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that they had not had a single Black member in their ranks in over two decades. The article also detailed that the organization had paid large sums to members for serving on committees and accepted lavish junket trips. In April, the HFPA was once again hit with controversy when it was revealed that a former president, Phil Berk, had sent an email to members calling Black Lives Matter “a hate movement.” Berk was then removed from the HFPA.

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