Golden Globes host Jerrod Carmichael doesn't hold back in blistering opening: 'I'm here because I'm Black'

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 10: 80th Annual GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Host Jerrod Carmichael speaks onstage at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. -- (Photo by Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images)
Host Jerrod Carmichael speaks onstage at the 80th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images)

After a tumultuous hiatus, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hoped to restart Hollywood's biggest party with the 80th Golden Globes. But the show's host, Jerrod Carmichael, had some honest words to share before the festivities started. Rather than talk around the reasons for the ceremony's absence from the airwaves, the comedian got to the point right away. "I'm here because I'm Black," he told the audience with direct honesty.

Carmichael then recapped the story for viewers who had come in late, referring to the bombshell reports originating in the Los Angeles Times in 2021 that the notoriously insular HFPA didn't have a single Black journalist among its membership. "The Golden Globes did not air last year because the Hollywood Foreign Press... I won’t say they are a racist organization, but they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died," Carmichael said, taking a seat at the foot of the stage. "Do with that information what you will."

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Referencing George Floyd — whose death in Minneapolis police custody in 2020 set off a wave of #BlackLivesMatter protests — made the audience of A-listers visibly uncomfortable. Some audience members were even squirmed in their seats and much of their initial laughter quieted. But Carmichael pressed on. "Why am I onstage with you guys tonight," he said, explaining his long and winding road to hosting the Globes' return, a journey that started with a phone call from the show's Black producer, Stephen Hill.

After speaking with Hill about the opportunity, Carmichael said that he then consulted one of his closest friends. "For the sake of this monologue, [she] represents every Black person in America," he joked. "I said, 'What do I do?' And she said, 'Remind me which awards show that is again?'"

His friend only had one other question for him: "She was like, 'How much are they paying you?'" Carmichael remembered. "I said, 'It's not about the money. It's about the moral question.'" But he eventually he owned up to the size of the paycheck: $500,000. "She said, 'Boy, if you don't put on a good suit and take those white people's money!'"

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 10: 80th Annual GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Host Jerrod Carmichael speaks onstage at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. -- (Photo by Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images)
Carmichael delivers his opening monologue at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images)

Carmichael had one more revelation to share: After taking the job, the HFPA president, Helen Hoehne, repeatedly tried to meet with him to "educate" him about the diversity changes that had happened behind the scenes at the organization. But in the words of another brave soul, he suspected a trap. "What are they gonna do, fire me?" he said about why he never had that sit-down. "I'm unfireable!"

"I took this job assuming they hadn’t changed at all," Carmichael continued. "I hear they got six new Black members. It’s not why I’m here. Regardless of whatever their past might be, this is an evening where we get to celebrate [each other] and I think this industry deserves evenings like these. I hope we have a little fun tonight."

Carmichael's sober monologue — which had some of past host Ricky Gervais's bridge-burning honesty — wasn't necessarily fun, and it attracted a mixed response on Twitter.

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But he got more positive responses by the celebrities in the room. After some initial discomfort, the majority of the crowd was chuckling along by the time the party really got started. His biggest fan? Brad Pitt. The Babylon star was clearly into Carmichael's truth-telling and led the laughter as the speech went along. Clearly, the first rule of hosting the Golden Globes is that you shouldn't be afraid to talk about the Golden Globes.

Additional reporting by Taryn Ryder