Golden Globes Diversity: Record Representation for Film Directors, Year-to-Year Gains in Acting Categories

One Night in Miami Regina King
Courtesy of Amazon/Everett Collection

Overall inclusion for BIPOC performers is up significantly year-over-year for the Golden Globes.

The 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards nominations see a total of 18.6% of all acting nominees going to BIPOC performers across the film and television categories.

The majority of these acting nominees that are BIPOC came from the film side of the ballot, where there were 30%, including both Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holliday) in the drama actress category and Riz Ahmed (“The Sound of Metal”) and the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) in the drama actor category. On the TV side of things, there were only 10% BIPOC nominees, including Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”), the incumbent winner in the category Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”) for comedy actor, and John Boyega in supporting TV actor for “Small Axe.”

In front of the camera, the overall number of BIPOC nominees in film categories nearly doubled from last year. But, the HFPA notably failed to nominated the ensembles of primarily BIPOC-led films in either the drama and musical/comedy categories. Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” — which was predicted to be a major contender for the film, director and its lead player Delroy Lindo — came up totally empty-handed. Leslie Odom Jr. and Daniel Kaluuya were the lone representatives from the acting ensembles for “One Night in Miami” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” while Davis and Boseman were singled out from the cast of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Odom Jr. spoke to Variety shortly after the nominations were announced, reflecting on King’s historic nod. “We’ve grown accustomed to a high bar of excellence from Regina King, but it’s strange because she is decades into her career, but it feels as if she’s just getting started,” he said.

Reacting to his own supporting actor nomination, the “One Night in Miami” star referenced his onscreen persona: “Sam Cooke said, ‘It’s been a long, long time coming, but a change is going to come.’… I hope we all know that there’s still so much work to do, but the HFPA table got a bit longer today. They sent out invitations to some to some new people who got invited to the party. I’m very grateful for the invitation because we’re better for it. We’re so much richer, smarter and better for being in conversation in the community, with all the glorious artists that are going to be a part of this event.”

“It took 16 years for [my career] to start in earnest. I saw a variety of roles available to, certainly, my white brothers and sisters. They would get out of drama school and they would get these opportunities right away, so it seemed. They would bounce all over the map and do accents and dialects and transform themselves and do all these different great things,” he continued. “I know a lot of us felt marginalized, but on a morning like today, the HFPA recognized these projects, and I played a small part in them. It’s deeply meaningful and encouraging, because the road is not easy.”

And, on the question of “Minari,” A24 submitted the critically acclaimed film from director Lee Isaac Chung for the best foreign language category due to the HFPA’s rules about best picture candidates. In that category, films must have a minimum of 50% English spoken in order to be eligible. The project was ultimately nominated in the foreign language category, earning the film’s only nod. No women of color were nominated for in the supporting actress categories, where the HFPA missed “Minari’s” Yuh-Jung Youn, a projected major contender.

Behind the camera, the HFPA made history nominating two women of color, Regina King (“One Night in Miami”) and Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), for best director in the same year for the first time, meaning 40% of the directing nominees were BIPOC. But, most notably the makeup of the directing category is 60% women (“Promising Young Woman” filmmaker Emerald Fennell is the third woman nominee), after women were completely shutout last year. Zhao is the first Asian woman to be nominated in the category, while King is the second Black woman after Ava DuVernay received a nod for “Selma” in 2014. The filmmakers are only the sixth, seventh and eighth women to be nominated in the category, joining DuVernay, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow and Barbra Streisand (who is the only woman to win the prize, for 1983’s “Yentl.”) Only 16.67% (one, Zhao) of writing nominees on the film side were people of color.

Similarly, for television, only one nominated ongoing series (HBO’s “Lovecraft Country”) came from a showrunner who is BIPOC (Misha Green). Amazon Prime Video’s “Small Axe,” from Steve McQueen, was also nominated in the limited series/TV movie category for its collection of five films.

Last year’s Golden Globes nominees on the film side included 20% BIPOC writing nominees and 20% BIPOC directing nominees, but notably female directors were shut out. BIPOC acting nominees made up 16.67% of the film side of the ballot, with the majority of them in lead categories and only one (Jennifer Lopez for “Hustlers”) in supporting. This was down from the previous year when 20% of the acting nominees were BIPOC and 40% of both writers and directors were BIPOC.

Things fared worse for the Golden Globes TV nominees last year: They featured no series in the drama, comedy or limited/TV movie categories that came from BIPOC showrunners, and only 7.5% of television acting nominees were BIPOC. All of these nominees were in the male acting fields, with Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) and Billy Porter (“Pose”) nominated in the drama actor category and Youssef nominated for, and eventually winning, the comedy actor statue. That was already a steep decline from the 76th Annual Golden Globes in 2019, when one show (“Pose”) did come from a showrunner of color, and 20% of TV acting nominees were BIPOC, as well as from the 73rd Annual Golden Globes in 2016, which saw a record number of BIPOC television acting nominees, with 32.5%.

While clearly some strides have been taken, Monkeypaw Prods. president Win Rosenfeld pointed out there is still a long way to go for true inclusion. “We’re not even close yet to where we need to be,” he said. “The frustration and disappointment is, I think, more than understandable — it’s justified — and [in] moments like this, the thing you hope about a backlash is that it becomes an engine for change.”