The prevailing social issue of Sunday’s Golden Globes was combating sexual harassment and sexual assault against women in the entertainment industry, an issue that dominated headlines for months following accusations against Hollywood powerhouse Harvey Weinstein.
Heading into the awards ceremony, some wondered whether the increased attention on dismantling sexism in Hollywood would push aside the decades-long fight to tackle racism in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, the question was: Can Hollywood commit to addressing more than one systemic injustice at once?
But many of those who won awards kept the conversation about the need for more diversity, a move that both showed how Hollywood has progressed and called out how far it has to go. Actors of color are often praised by mainstream audiences for being able to take on “colorblind” roles that minimize, if not erase, the actor’s racial identity. That was not the case with this year’s winners.
Still, only two out of 14 awards in acting went to people of color.
Sterling K. Brown became the first black man to win a Golden Globe for best actor in a television drama for his role in NBC’s “This Is Us,” in which he plays a man who was adopted as an newborn by a white family. In his acceptance speech, he thanked creator Dan Fogelman for his part in magnifying his visibility as a black man:
“Throughout the majority of my career, I have benefited from colorblind casting — which means, you know what, ‘Hey, let’s throw a brother in this role, right?’ It’s always really cool. But Dan Fogelman, you wrote a role for a black man. That could only be played by a black man. And so what I appreciate so much about this thing is that I am being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And that makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me. So thank you, Dan.”
And Aziz Ansari, who is Indian American, became the first Asian male actor to win best leading performance in a TV comedy for his role as a young actor navigating the entertainment industry in Netflix’s “Master of None.” The series explores some of the challenges Ansari previously wrote about in the New York Times:
“Even though I’ve sold out Madison Square Garden as a standup comedian and have appeared in several films and a TV series, when my phone rings, the roles I’m offered are often defined by ethnicity and often require accents.
"Whatever progress toward diversity we are making, the percentage of minorities playing lead roles is still painfully low.”
But whatever progress was made was also met with some frustration that the work of those who told about the challenges of being a person of color in America was not honored.
Issa Rae, the lead female actor of HBO’s “Insecure,” a series about the nuances of young black experience in America, and “Get Out,” a comedy-horror film about interracial dating, were passed over. And this year's box office smash “Girls Trip,” the story of four black women reconnecting for an event-filled outing in New Orleans, was not even nominated.
April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite and an advocate for diversity in the arts, told The Fix:
“I think we have seen incremental progress in recognizing the achievements of marginalized communities. #OscarsSoWhite is still very relevant, because there is much more work to be done.”
“Until we see studios say that they are making diversity and inclusion a priority, from the top down, and they commit to concrete steps to do so, there will not be systemic change.”
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, called for the need for systemic change after highlighting how as a young girl watching Sidney Poitier win a Golden Globe decades ago gave her sense of possibility. And because she is a black woman and a sexual abuse survivor, she was the best person to speak about the combined need to aggressively dismantle both racism and sexism in Hollywood and beyond:
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me, too’ again.”