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South African Margaret Gardiner called out in Variety article amid HFPA diversity controversy

Margaret Gardiner. (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SCAD)

Margaret Gardiner. (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SCAD)

  • The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is facing backlash and boycotts over its lack of diversity.
  • South African HFPA member Margaret Gardiner has been named in a report by Variety surrounding controversy over a black journalist not being able to join the organisation.
  • Margaret, who also made headlines following an incident with Daniel Kaluuya in the Oscars press room, has denied the allegations made against her.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is at the centre of a race row that has caused massive outrage and widespread boycotts.

The non-profit organisation consists of journalists and photographers based in the United States who report on the US entertainment industry for media outside the country.

The HFPA is perhaps best known for conducting the Golden Globe Awards every year.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times published an investigation revealing that the 87-member strong organisation did not currently have a single black member.

The HFPA responded saying: “We are fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV and the artists inspiring and educating them. We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”

Amid the controversy NBC has announced it will not broadcast the Golden Globes next year. Hollywood star Tom Cruise also returned his three Golden Globe awards in protest this week.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” the awards’ longstanding broadcaster NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organisation executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

According to AFP, this development is a potentially fatal blow to the awards and the organisation itself, which relies heavily on the Globes’ television rights for its funding. NBC’s announcement came just days after Netflix and Amazon Studios said they would not work with the HFPA until more “meaningful” and “significant” changes were made.

A turf war?

Now in a new report by Variety, black journalist Samantha Ofole-Prince has said she was approached by a member to join the HFPA about a decade ago, but was ultimately turned down. Ofole-Prince grew up in the United Kingdom and writes entertainment stories from Los Angeles for publication in the United Kingdom, Africa and the Caribbean.

Variety reports: “The HFPA has blamed her rejection on a problem with the magazine clips submitted with her application. But according to Ofole-Prince, her candidacy ran into resistance from members who feared she would compete on their turf.

“She provided an email exchange with a member from South Africa who wanted assurances that Ofole-Prince would not work for South African outlets. Whether that issue ultimately killed her nomination is hard to say with certainty. But Ofole-Prince believes that was the reason, and said she bases that conclusion on her conversations with her supporters in the group.”

According to Samantha, she received an email exchange with a message from Margaret Gardiner, a South African member of the HFPA. In the email Margaret asked for assurance that Samantha would not publish in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe or Mozambique.

Margaret told Variety she “never campaigned against Samantha”.

News24 reached out to Margaret for a response on the matter. She replied: “I had no reservation to Samantha Ofole-Prince joining the association. On 12 May 2014, I sent an email to her which stated: ‘I have let members know I have no resistance to your application. I look forward to welcoming you’.”

Margaret, who was crowned Miss Republic of South Africa and Miss Universe in 1978, has been representing South Africa at the HFPA since 2003.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 06: Margaret Gardiner

Margaret Gardiner attends the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on 6 January 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Oscars incident

The 61-year-old journalist also made headlines in April at the 93rd Academy Awards. She was accused of confusing Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, directed by Shaka King) with Leslie Odom Jr (Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King) at a press conference shortly after his win.

“I want to congratulate you on this. I’ve been following you since the beginning of your career,” Margaret said. “I was wondering what it meant to you to be directed by Regina, what this means for you at this time, with the world in the state that it’s in?”

When a visibly confused Daniel asked Margaret to repeat the question, she did so without the reference to Regina King.

In a series of tweets, Margaret denied confusing the stars with each other, saying: “I’m sorry if it seemed that way. I had wanted to ask about Regina King not being nominated as a director for One Night in Miami, and your win for Judas and the Black Messiah for the community at this time.”

She added: “There was a sound issue, so I dropped the part about Regina King and restated my question. What does it mean for the community at this time?”

Margaret acknowledged that her question might have caused confusion and apologised to Daniel and “anyone else offended” by her question. All her social media accounts have since been deactivated.

In response to the incident, Margaret told News24: “I feel absolutely terrible. I am incredibly embarrassed by it. It was a terrible gaffe but I truly made a mistake.”

In an interview with Channel24 in 2019, Margaret said her reign as Miss Universe helped prepare her for the high-profile life she lives in Hollywood. “I understood that being in the limelight doesn’t make you different from anyone else. Your job simply means that you have your best and worst moments displayed in public.”

(Sources: AFP, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, Teen Vogue, Channel24)

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