“Entertainment Tonight’s” Kevin Frazier was in Minneapolis where the funeral for George Floyd took place on June 4. He says he felt compelled to be there despite the coronavirus pandemic. And what he saw moved him as he witnessed people coming together, “I felt we all saw each other.”
As the host of “Entertainment Tonight,” Frazier also discusses race and representation in Hollywood and how stars like Brad Pitt have been championing Black stories. He also tells Variety about his connection to Rosa Parks and whether the protests and movement will change anything, saying, “There’s still more to do.”
You posted about being in Minnesota for the George Floyd Memorial. What was that like to be there?
The beauty of the moment was many people coming together. I stood outside the George Floyd memorial for a long time while it was going on. People gathered and they stood and they listened. They soaked it up.
On so many corners near there, and near the site where George Floyd lost his life, people were pouring into the area just to give food to other people who were in the middle of this moment — whether they come to protest or mourn or just be silent. It was the first time in a long time that I felt we all saw each other.
What made you want to jump on that plane and go to Minnesota during a pandemic?
I was feeling like I was missing out. It didn’t go over well, because I was going into a pandemic petri dish, but I had to go. I’m so glad I went because it’s important in these moments to recognize what people are doing besides the great movie they make or the fun thing they do, right?
I spoke to Sara Sidner from CNN and she had connected George Floyd’s brother with the police chief. I thought that was an important moment. Will Packer was another person I spoke to who put his money where his mouth is. You have to look at all the work that’s being done — for example, what Will is doing now and trying to get the hate crime law in Georgia and other things passed.
Do you feel this is a moment of change?
There’s no doubt that this is a moment. Some moments push humanity forward, and this is one of them. My great aunt started a place during the Civil Rights Movement called the Highlander School with Ella Baker, and they trained Rosa Parks. My mom worked at Highlander, and they taught both Black and white people how to register to vote. Through that [school], throughout my life, I got to know Miss Rosa. She would come to visit my mom and she would come to my house. And when you meet those people, you see that these are regular people, ordinary people who did extraordinary things. These women did things that change history. What I’m seeing now is regular and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. There is a sacrifice that goes along with that. It’s not easy.
You have ordinary people making a difference, but what about in our industry and Hollywood?
I love the fact that you see so many stars and high-profile people coming out now and saying, “Hey, let’s be a part of this. Let’s be a part of this movement.” I look at somebody like Brad Pitt and I say, “Well, there’s a man who has been making movies and TV shows that have employed African Americans and have told African American stories.” If you ask me my favorite Hollywood moment since I’ve worked here, it was going to New Orleans and watching what he did after [Hurricane] Katrina with building those houses and being there for those people — many who look like me — and it’s why I have such crazy respect for that guy.
I want to see if the rest of Hollywood is going to step up and say, “Hey, let’s look at this through a diversified lens.” Let me say this, that’s not the same for everybody in his circle. You can look to people around him who have made a lot of movies that have very few African Americans attached or anything to do with it. The fact that he’s making movies that matter, it means a lot. When there was a disaster, he went into a place where other people didn’t want to go. I don’t think that people see that enough. Now, I want to see who else is going to do that.
Talk about representation in the newsroom and being the face of “Entertainment Tonight.”
The fascinating thing that we have to keep in mind is that much of the entertainment industry, and the industries that we see and we love, are driven by Black culture. I find it fascinating when we can represent that culture inside the people who report on it.
I am so thankful that “Entertainment Tonight” has embraced the site I started, Hip Hollywood, which is about African American entertainment. I think of all the movie studios and TV studios that put us on the carpet. But I also say to the stars and to the movie companies — you can’t ignore the Black media. You can’t take away those opportunities either. The fact that I am the host of the number one entertainment show in the world is never lost on me. Every day I drive through the gate, I feel like my grandfather is riding in the car with me; he would be so happy and so proud. And so I say kudos to CBS every day, but there’s still more to do.