The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the body responsible for the Golden Globes, has brought in its first Chief Diversity Officer as part of its ongoing mission to combat the perception that it has a demographic problem merely because it was revealed in February that the HFPA counted not a single Black person among its membership—which led NBC to drop the award show and Tom Cruise to send back his trophies.
After admitting six Black people in September, the addition of the Diversity Officer means the group now has as many as seven Black members.
According to a Wednesday press release from the HFPA, the new officer is Neil Phillips, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur and public speaker from Florida, who is also an Aspen Institute Education Entrepreneurship Fellow and “a multiple-time winner of The Nantucket Project Audience Award for his provocative talk on race in America called ‘Race to Truth’ for his compelling on-stage conversation with famed television producer Norman Lear and, most recently, for his on-stage conversation with former President George W. Bush.”
HFPA president Helen Hoehne said in the statement, “Neil brings a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity not just to the HFPA, but also to the Hollywood community and media industry. Through our reform process, we believe it is not sufficient to just make progress internally, but also necessary to provide a platform for greater diversity and inclusion in our industry and the entertainment community our members cover.”
Hoehne added, “His willingness to talk openly about uncomfortable subjects and lead by example makes him an exceptional voice for change and we look forward to supporting his work.”
Said Phillips, “The HFPA has welcomed me and given me the opportunity to work not only with them, but the broader Hollywood and media industries that have struggled to discuss these issues of race openly and candidly without fear.
“I have always believed love is the answer to just about everything and if that makes people uncomfortable, that’s okay because discomfort signals an opportunity for growth and discussion. I’ve spent my entire career managing my own discomfort and diving deeply into the realm of breaking the bonds of systemic racism and having the uncomfortable, yet productive, conversations that can radically change organizations and individual lives.”
Phillips is currently working on a documentary with the Nantucket Project focusing on race and Black male achievement.
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