Shonda Rhimes Says HFPA Initially 'Rejected' a Bridgerton Press Conference Before Snubbing Show

Shonda Rhimes Says HFPA Initially 'Rejected' a Bridgerton Press Conference Before Snubbing Show

03/17/2021

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is facing new allegations of discrimination, this time from Bridgerton creator Shonda Rhimes. 

The organization, a group of 87 international journalists that determine the nominees and winners of the Golden Globe Awards each year, has faced years of backlash for a lack of diversity, but has come under increased scrutiny in recent months after the Los Angeles Times reported that the group has no Black members. 

A second report from the LA Times, published the same day in February, claimed that the HFPA members receive lavish perks from the studios and networks whose projects HFPA members later write about and vote on. Following both reports, the group laid out a plan for "transformational change," and later pledged to expand the membership and require at least 13 percent to be Black journalists. 

On Tuesday, Rhimes chimed in with her own experience with the HFPA after The Wrap published a report claiming that the HFPA has denied requests to hold press conferences for projects with Black-led casts, including Bridgerton, as well as 2017's Girls Trip and Queen & Slim last year. 

Rhimes, 51, confirmed that Bridgerton was denied a press conference until it became a hit, and noted the success of her past projects, including Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. 

"HFPA rejected our press conference," the veteran producer wrote on Twitter. "Until it was a 'surprise hit' (Grey's, Scandal, Murder -SURPRISE!) And yet they STILL asked me to show up in person to present at the Globes. We're not the only ones. This is why HFPA's house is on fire. They lit the flame w/their own ignorance." 

Director Ava DuVernay similarly shared a negative experience with the HFPA press conferences in regards to her 2109 limited series, When They See Us. 

"For the WHEN THEY SEE US/ HFPA press conference, less than 20 of them showed up," she wrote. "Based on the quality of their questions, I jokingly asked 'Have any of you seen the series?' Crickets. More came in the room when the pix were to be taken, at which time two peddled their scripts." 

A rep for the HFPA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. 

The ongoing controversy surrounding the association also prompted more than 100 public relations firms to send the association a letter on Monday calling for the HFPA to make changes.

In the letter, shared on Twitter by ID PR, the various groups called upon the HFPA to "swiftly manifest profound and lasting change to eradicate the longstanding exclusionary ethos and pervasive practice of discriminatory behavior, unprofessionalism, ethical impropriety and alleged financial corruption."

The letter continued, stating that the many agencies would not "advocate" for their clients to take part in HFPA events and interviews until the changes occurred.

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"While we stand ready to support your good faith efforts, please know that anything less than transparent, meaningful change that respects and honors the diversity and dignity of our clients, their colleagues and our global audience will result in immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship between our agencies, our clients and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and those who sanction the institutional inequity and insular culture that currently define it," the letter added.

"We are committed to making necessary changes within our organization and in our industry as a whole," the HFPA said in response, per The Hollwood Reporter. "We also acknowledge that we should have done more, and sooner."

"While we recognize this is a long-term process, we will continue to be transparent, provide updates, and have confidence in our ability to change and restore trust in our organization and the Golden Globes," the organization added.

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