How history was stacked against Constance Wu at the Golden Globes

January 6, 2019

Constance Wu scored a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy motion picture for her performance in Crazy Rich Asians. She was only the third actress of Asian descent to be given the nod in this category

In 1943 a group of journalists and correspondents formed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. They shared an interest in reporting on the foreign entertainment industry in the US and wanted to create cultural ties outside the country. Their motto was “unity without discrimination of religion or race” and their mission statement was as follows:

To establish favorable relations and cultural ties between foreign countries and the United States of America by the dissemination of information concerning the American culture and traditions as depicted in motion pictures and television through news media in various foreign countries...

A few years later they created an annual award to honour achievements in the television and film industries in the US and other countries, which they called the Golden Globe Awards

Since then few awards in the motion picture category have been granted to actors or actresses who are not caucasian. In fact, just two out of 117 awards have gone to non-white women

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Women on the screen

In 1951 Gloria Swanson became the first woman to win a Globe Globe for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture” for her role in the film Sunset Boulevard. The following graphic shows the number of women to have been nominated in the Golden Globe Awards for best performance in a motion picture, musical, comedy or drama. Tap the boxes for more details

Gender balance and diversity? Not too much

In the 1950s far more men were nominated in the motion picture categories than their female counterparts. Since the early 1970s the organisation has taken steps nominate equal numbers of men and women

Historical data from HFPA of Actor and Actress nominations on Drama, Musical or Comedy categories

Even a cursory glance at the graphic above shows how rare nominations for non-white actors and actresses are. Gender inequality is less pronounced but historically non-white women have just a one-in-five chance of winning

Frequent faces at the awards

Some faces have become regular fixtures on the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards, not because of their popularity but because of the sheer number of times they have been nominated

When it comes to actresses, Meryl Streep is the person to beat. She won her first lead actress Golden Globe Award for her performance in the movie The French Lieutenant's Woman. She boasts 24 nominations and has scooped the statuette five times

Between them, actors Jack Lemmon and Jack Nicholson hold the record. Lemmon died in 2001 but no one has yet eclipsed his haul of 16 nominations and three victories, although Jack Nicholson has taken the statuette home more often, having won it five times from 12 nominations

For researchers and the curious-minded, you can find the data we used for this special feature here.

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