As the Hollywood Foreign Press Association continues to announce and implement new reforms in the wake of controversy over its membership and practices, the org has struck a new partnership with the NAACP.
Under the five-year agreement, which the HFPA and NAACP have dubbed the “Reimagine Coalition,” the two sides have announced plans that they hope will foster an increase in diversity, equity and inclusion across the entertainment industry.
“We have not only worked to reimagine our structure at the HFPA, but also our role as an association — using our platform to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry,” said HFPA president Helen Hoehne in a statement. “This collaboration is so much more than reform; this is an opportunity to make long lasting change on a global scale. We’re honored that NAACP Hollywood shares this long-term vision with us, and we encourage all of our partners in the industry to join us in tackling these issues head on.”
The partnership’s plans include “supporting scholarships, fellowships, internships, and mentorship programs for creatives of color interested in pursuing careers in journalism and the motion picture and television industry; committing to the creation of employment opportunities for scholarship recipients and other qualified creatives of color; committing to a series of roundtable discussions, in partnership with the NAACP and other advocacy organizations, around various topics such as increasing diversity and visibility in film and television and building pathways to inclusion for young artists — both in front of and behind the camera; working with the NAACP on restoring, preserving and digitizing Black films, as well as historically significant NAACP footage throughout the course of the organization’s 112-year history; and fostering connections with the Nigerian film industry and African diaspora cinema, as well as elevating cinema from diverse groups around the world through film festivals.”
The HFPA and NAACP signed a memorandum of understanding in September following months of discussion between the two organizations, both about the HFPA’s reform efforts and also the larger issue of the entertainment industry’s systemic underrepresentation of various groups.
“This partnership — over five years — is a signal to the industry that we’re not interested in short term fixes — we’re committed to changing the narrative and tackling disparities in the industry from every angle,” said NAACP president/CEO Derrick Johnson. “Over the next several years through this partnership, we can build pathways to inclusion to support future generations of Black artists and artists of color. We can’t wait to get to work.”
Key HFPA executives will meet monthly with the NAACP to review progress on their diversity initiatives, seek advice where needed, and discuss how the HFPA and NAACP can continue to work collaboratively. The HFPA already supports high school and college programs geared toward scholarships, fellowships and internships for Black and other diverse students interested in pursuing careers in journalism and the entertainment industry.
The HFPA’s other plans include fostering connections with the Nigerian film industry and African diaspora cinema; working with the NAACP on restoring, preserving and digitizing Black films, as well as historically significant NAACP footage; and a series of roundtable discussions dealing with topics such as Hollywood diversity and inclusion, “Nollywood” and films of the African diaspora, global Black entertainment journalism and a new media center that the NAACP is working on.
“The NAACP applauds our advocacy allies for pressing HFPA to commit to internal reforms, and we now welcome HFPA as a partner in the larger agenda to realize equity and inclusion throughout Hollywood,” said Kyle Bowser, senior VP of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. “The emerging spirit of racial reckoning must move beyond the convenience of condemning individual transgressors, toward a collective will to redesign the ecosystem that has nurtured a legacy of systemic discrimination and oppression. We must be mindful that scapegoats are typically bred by the herd. NAACP and HFPA invite all industry institutions to join our Reimagine Coalition effort by reconciling bold proclamations of reform with actionable plans for accountability and allyship.”
In May, the 85-member HFPA announced a timeline that would overhaul the organization, and in July, the HFPA approved the new set of bylaws that had been proposed to reform the organization, recruit more diverse and inclusive members and address the ethics and accountability issues that have long swirled around the organization. In recent weeks, the org has added 21 new members, named a new president (German journalist Helen Hoehne), a new Board of Directors, with the addition of three outside non-members, 12 member directors, and a credentials committee with five non-members and an advisory board. Also, Todd Boehly was named interim CEO of HFPA.