Meher Tatna is the 2017-2018 president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which hosts the annual Golden Globe Awards and provides scholarships and funding for promising young artists to study and work in the American entertainment industry. She is an Indian journalist and producer who studied economics at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and currently writes for the Singaporean daily newspaper, New Paper. She also didn’t wear black last night—but that doesn’t mean she didn’t show support for Time’s Up, an initiative led by Hollywood to fight sexual harassment and gender discrimination in all industries.
Mumbai-born Tatna explained to Entertainment Weekly that you don’t wear black in her culture when you’re celebrating—and Tatna had a lot to feel victorious for, considering the iconic statements made at the Awards last night. Many media outlets are reporting that this is because black is for widows mourning (though, actually, in many Asian cultures, including Chinese and Indian, white is the preferred color of mourning). She wore a bright red gown and a matching duster with custom gold embroidery. (Possibly banarasi embroidery, famous for bridal gowns, which are traditionally red in Hindu culture.) “My mom and I planned this a couple of months ago; it is a cultural thing,” she said. ” So she would be appalled if I were to [have] worn black. And so this is, for my mom. She is watching in Mumbai. Well, maybe not the live show, but she will watch. I love you, Mom.”
As noted by S. Mitra Kalita, CNN Digital’s vice president of programming (and a former Quartz editor), bright colors are the norm for celebrations in South Asian culture. Tatna’s point, you might say, is that Indian women just love bright colors, more than westerners do. Actresses of South Asian descent like Mindy Kaling, Priyanka Chopra, and Freida Pinto, did not attend the Awards this year, though they have attended in previous years. (Kaling joked on Twitter about being left out of her Wrinkle in Time co-star Reese Witherspoon’s speech.)
Tatna wore her #TimesUp pin, though. “I am really glad that women are finally feeling safe enough to come forward and talk about their experiences,” she told Vanity Fair before the event. “I am totally in solidarity with them.” She wore the outfit onstage to announce two new HFPA grants of $1 million each going to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists—a strong message in a political climate saturated with #FakeNews.