Australian HFPA Member Says Organization Hadn’t Considered Lack Of Black Journalists “A Problem”

An Australian member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association said on an Australian morning TV show that the organization hadn’t previously considered the absence of Black journalists “a problem” to be “focused” on.

Jenny Cooney, appearing on Today Australia Monday, was asked about the HFPA’s lack of diversity, as issue that drew anger and attention from Golden Globes presenters Sunday night. Addressing the topic, Cooney said that “the fact that there was not a Black member was not really anything we focused on because we were accepting and welcoming everybody from around the world that was based in L.A. that wrote for foreign publications, that was just our criteria.”

Watch the interview above.

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Cooney continued, “The fact that there were no Black members we didn’t really consider a problem. Now of course we realize that we should have been much more proactive about really going out of our way to recruit and work with the media, the journalists, the foreign press, everywhere.”

“We’ve always considered ourselves such a culturally diverse group,” Cooney said of the HFPA. “I think 35% of our members are non-European, from everywhere from North Africa, Philippines, Bangladesh, Japan.” She added, “I always thought diversity was more about not skin color but about nationalities and where people came from.”

During Sunday’s awards ceremony, HFPA president Ali Sar, along with members Helen Hoehne and Meher Tatna, said that Black membership is “vital,” pledged to make diverse membership “the norm,” and promised that the HFPA is “going to make that happen.”

On Monday, Cooney suggested that Hollywood’s lack of diversity extends beyond the HFPA. “Keep in mind all the members of the HFPA have to be vetted first by the Motion Picture Association,” she said. “It was a way of us making sure all of our members were legitimate journalists, and the MPAA did not have a Black member in their national directory at all. Not to throw them under the bus, but that was the pool that we were choosing from and we’ve now realized that we can’t rely on the studios, we can’t rely on anybody else.”

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