What Controversy? Winners Go Easy on HFPA Backstage at Golden Globe Awards

The controversy that enveloped the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was rarely invoked among the Golden Globe Award winners who came backstage at the Beverly Hilton to revel in their victories.

Angela Bassett, who won supporting actress in a movie for her work in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” didn’t pause when asked by Variety if she had concerns about the HFPA and if she considered not attending the event. The Golden Globe Awards did not air on NBC last year following the outcry over the fact that the HFPA had no Black members.

“The HPFA has made strides. They know what needs to be done,” Bassett said. “Tonight is the beginning of that season where we celebrate our industry and our colleagues. We embrace them with great joy. It is our hope that people will always love coming and going to the movies. We’re the people in the room that provide that.”

Bassett emphasized that coming to the Globes is a treat for actors and industry pros who rarely get the chance to mix and mingle because they’re always working in far-flung places. Even movie stars need the support of their peers.

“To provide some applause, some love and embrace to each other. We’re all in our little galaxies, our worlds doing our own thing,” Bassett said. “It really is such a good time.”

Michelle Yeoh, winner for lead actress in a comedy or musical for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” told reporters backstage that her recent career resurgence as she turned 60 last year is a testament to a changing industry.

“Times are changing. There is much more inclusivity. It’s not lip service anymore,” Yeoh said. “Many filmmakers are forward-thinking to understand the importance of inclusivity, the importance of diversity and the importance of telling stories about different cultures and embracing them in the right way — simply because our audience demands it. We are on the cusp of a big change. I’m just so happy that I’m still here when this is happening. I’m not in my rocking chair saying, ‘Why didn’t I get that chance?’”

Ke Huy Quan, a supporting actor winner for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” shared that sentiment in describing his experience as the former child actor decided to revive his acting career after a long period out of the industry. He was demoralized as he grew older and struggled to find roles.

“I was auditioning left and right and could not land a single job,” he recalled. “I’m grateful the landscape has changed. There’s a lot more progress now. I just want to keep an open mind and see what’s out there.”

Tyler James Williams, who won supporting actor in a comedy series for ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” also touched on the theme that acting is a hard profession, despite all the trappings of glamour. Williams noted his first trip to the Globes came nearly two decades ago when he was the 13-year-old star of UPN comedy “Everybody Hates Chris.”

“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go — people I came up with who I thought were very talented people,” Williams said. “The roles weren’t in the right place at the right time for them. For me, I always wanted to do good work….A lot of people think the road is straight. I hope that if anything is taken from [my win] that it’s not always linear.”

A number of the night’s big winners were first-time honorees who are relatively new to the awards season gauntlet. Austin Butler, who won lead actor in a drama for “Elvis,” was still clearly overwhelmed by the moment when he ambled onto the press room stage.

“I remember going to so many auditions and never booking anything,” Butler said, referring to his early years after getting started on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon series. “I just feel so grateful right now. I’m still coming back from sort of blacking out.”

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who won for animated feature for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” was pressed about the state of moviegoing and whether the theatrical experience is irrevocably changed by the pandemic. Del Toro said it will take a few more years to determine the true impact, but he warned about the danger of limiting ambition because of business uncertainty.

To preserve the medium it’s important “to keep the size of the ideas big,” del Toro said. “We’re so worried about the size of the screens. We should worry about the size of the idea. That defines cinema.”

(Pictured: Angela Bassett)

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