Why Tiffany Haddish turned down the Grammys
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Global climate talks leave out women in top roles, fixing childcare could add $1.6 trillion to U.S. GDP, and Tiffany Haddish would like to be paid. Have a restful weekend.
– Thanks, but no thanks. It sounds like a dream gig for any entertainer: hosting the three-hour pre-telecast ceremony for music’s biggest night, the Grammys, which are scheduled for Jan. 31.
But when it was offered to Tiffany Haddish, the comedian turned it down. The reason? She says she was expected to work for free. Worse still, she’d have to cover other expenses related to the job, like hair, makeup, and wardrobe.
“All of that would have to come out of my pocket,” she told Variety. “I don’t know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it’s disrespectful.” (Haddish is up for Best Comedy Album this year, her second nomination.)
The Recording Academy, a not-for-profit that puts on the Grammys, is responsible for the pre-telecast ceremony and says that previous hosts have performed for free. But interim CEO of the Academy Harvey Mason Jr. said in a video posted to Instagram that it was wrong for the talent booker to tell Haddish that the organization wouldn’t even cover her expenses for the event.
“That was wrong,” Mason said. “It was a lapse in judgment. It was in poor taste. And it was disrespectful.”
The story smacks of past instances in which Hollywood has woefully underpaid female artists compared to their male counterparts. See: Michelle Williams, Gillian Anderson, Claire Foy, Octavia Spencer, and far too many others.
Plus, it’s a serious black eye for the Recording Academy, which is trying to shake a reputation for being sexist, discriminatory, and out-of-touch.
Not even a year ago, it put its first-ever female president and CEO Deborah Dugan on leave five months after hiring her due to a “formal allegation of misconduct.” Dugan countered with an EEOC complaint that said her suspension was retaliation for her calling out sexual harassment, corrupt voting procedures, and conflicts of interest among board members at the organization. At the time of the filing, the Academy didn’t respond directly to Dugan’s claims, but it formally fired her in March after investigating her tenure at the organization, citing her “consistent management deficiencies and failures.”
The Academy had hired Dugan as it was trying to clean up another mess. In 2018, then-president Neil Portnow triggered fierce blowback when he said more women needed “step up” if they wanted to be recognized at the Grammys.
If the Academy is looking to move past these scandals; to signal that it values female talent, whether among executives or recording artists, asking Haddish to pay her way onto the Grammys stage is clearly a step backwards.
Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.
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