Neil Phillips Appointed As HFPA’s First Chief Diversity Officer
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced the hiring of Neil Phillips as its first Chief Diversity Officer, in keeping with a promise made last spring, surrounding the introduction of a new, permanent leadership position at the embattled Golden Globes organization.
In his new role, Phillips will play an integral part in steering continuing reforms to promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, both within the HFPA and within broader Hollywood and journalism communities.
Phillips is a speaker and entrepreneur who has looked to promote a focus on human value and equity within education, business, and the public/private sector. He is an Aspen Institute Education Entrepreneurship Fellow and a member of the inaugural Echoing Green/Open Society Foundation Black Male Achievement Fellowship, who has won The Nantucket Project Audience Award multiple times for his provocative talk on race in America, “Race to Truth”, an on-stage conversation with Norman Lear, and a conversation with former President George W. Bush. He is currently working with The Nantucket Project on a feature documentary, focused on race and Black male achievement.
The Harvard University graduate and former professional basketball player spent a decade in administrative leadership roles at his alma mater, Landon School. He then co-founded Florida charter school Visible Men Academy, and served as its founding Principal and Chief Executive Officer, up until his retirement this year.
“Neil brings a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity not just to the HFPA, but also to the Hollywood community and media industry,” said HFPA President, Helen Hoehne. “Through our reform process, we believe it is not sufficient to just make progress internally, but also necessary to provide a platform for greater diversity and inclusion in our industry and the entertainment community our members cover. His willingness to talk openly about uncomfortable subjects and lead by example makes him an exceptional voice for change and we look forward to supporting his work.”
“The HFPA has welcomed me and given me the opportunity to work not only with them, but the broader Hollywood and media industries that have struggled to discuss these issues of race openly and candidly without fear,” added Phillips. “I have always believed love is the answer to just about everything and if that makes people uncomfortable, that’s okay because discomfort signals an opportunity for growth and discussion.
“I’ve spent my entire career managing my own discomfort and diving deeply into the realm of breaking the bonds of systemic racism,” the HFPA appointee added, “and having the uncomfortable, yet productive, conversations that can radically change organizations and individual lives.”
While the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is moving forward with plans to bestow Golden Globe honors on Sunday, January 9—at a venue, and in a fashion that has not yet been disclosed—it will do so in the absence of the usual awards ceremony broadcast on NBC. The Comcast-owned network scrapped plans for the 2022 ceremony back in May, after an exposé in the LA Times revealed that the HFPA counted not a single Black person among its members, also examining claims of self-dealing and other “ethical lapses” within the organization. The revelations saw major companies including Netflix and Amazon join celebrities and industry publicists in cutting ties with the organization which vowed to reform.
“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform,” NBC said at the time. “However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”
Over the subsequent months, the group of international entertainment journalists has aimed to make the “transformational change” necessary to see the permanent return of the Golden Globes, expanding its membership and overhauling its leadership, while creating an updated code of conduct reflecting a “commitment to diversity and inclusion,” banning its members from accepting gifts, and introducing other reforms.
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