78th Golden Globes Celebrates Black Actors

by Patrick T Fuller on March 4, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

While Chloé Zhao Makes History as Best Director

by Grace Whitman ’22 A&E Staff

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler kicked off the 78th Golden Globes from opposite coasts on Feb. 28. The hosts used their opening monologue to bring to light the lack of diversity in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which picks the nominees and winners for the award show. 


“The HFPA is made up of around 90 international—no Black—journalists who attend movie junkets each year in search of a better life… Inclusivity is important, and there are no Black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press… you’ve gotta change that. So here’s to changing it,” said Fey. Several Black-led projects were overlooked for Best Picture including Judas and the Black Messiah, Da 5 Bloods, One Night in Miami, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Additionally, of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture across musical or comedy and drama categories, only Disney’s Hamilton contains a lead cast predominantly composed of people of color. 

Although the HFPA lacks Black voices internally, they did push forward a diverse roster of winners. Andra Day became the second-ever Black actress to win the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her performance in Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday. In an emotional acceptance speech, she thanked the “transformative, dynamic Billie Holiday, who just transformed me with this role and with her presence and with her spirit.”  

Daniel Kaluuya, famously known for his work in Get Out, won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture for his captivating role in Judas and the Black Messiah.  

John Boyega won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Supporting Role for his role as Leroy Logan in Small Axe. Additionally, the late Chadwick Boseman, who passed away from colon cancer in Aug. 2020, won Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his work in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

Transitioning to the major categories, Disney’s Soul took home the award for Best Animated Picture and Best Original Score. The film is Pixar’s first to feature a Black protagonist. Netflix’s Trial of the Chicago Seven won Best Motion Picture Screenplay. 


Only eight women have been nominated for Best Director in the Golden Globes’ 78-year history, with three of them nominated in 2021. This year, Chloé Zhao became the first woman director of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe for her movie Nomadland. Zhao is the first female winner since 1984, when Barbara Streisand secured an award for Yentl. Nomadland tells the story of a 61-year-old woman named Fern who travels through the American West during the great recession. At its core, the film deals with the universal struggle of finding what makes us happy. 

This year’s Golden Globes brought to light the deeply ingrained systemic inequalities in Hollywood. Although several diverse stories and Black actors and actresses won awards, the Golden Globes have a responsibility to elevate diverse voices. The HFPA needs to build on the momentum of the 78th Golden Globes to continue recognizing and celebrating Black voices in film. Other areas of entertainment should follow suit by making this mission their own.