“Entertainment Tonight’s” Kevin Frazier was in Minneapolis where the funeral for George Floyd took place. He felt compelled to be there despite the coronavirus pandemic. And what he saw moved him. He saw people coming together, “I felt we all saw each other.”
As the host of “Entertainment Tonight,” Frazier also discusses race and representation in Hollywood and how people like Brad Pitt have been championing Black stories.
Frazier talks to Variety about his connection to Rosa Parks and on whether the protests and movement will change anything, he says, “There’s still more to do.”
You posted about being in Minnesota and being at the George Floyd Memorial, what was that like to be there?
The beauty of the moment was many people coming together. I stood outside the George Floyd memorial for a long time while it was going on. People gathered and they stood and they listened. They soaked it up.
On so many corners near there, and near the site where George Floyd lost his life, they had people giving out food. People were pouring into the area just to give food to other people who were in the middle of this moment or whether they come to protest or mourn or just be silent at the moment. It was the first time in a long time that I felt we all saw each other.
What made you want to jump on that plane and go to Minnesota during a pandemic?
I was feeling like I was missing out. I spoke to Sara Sidner from CNN and she had connected George Floyd’s brother with the police chief.
Will Packer was another person I spoke to who put his money where his mouth is. I thought that was an important moment. It didn’t go over well, because I was going into a pandemic petri dish. But I had to go. When I went, I’m so glad I went because it’s important in these moments to recognize what people are doing besides the great movie they make or the fun thing they do, right? You have to look at all the work that’s being done in what Will is doing now and trying to get the hate crime law in Georgia and other things passed.
Do you feel this is a moment of change?
There’s no doubt that this is a moment. Some moments push humanity forward, and this is one of them. My great aunt started a place during the civil rights movement called the Highlander School with Ella Baker. And they trained Rosa Parks.
My mom worked at Highlander, and they taught both Black and white people how to register to vote. Through that, throughout my life, I got to know Miss Rosa, she would come to visit my mom and she would come to my house. And when you meet those people, you see that these are regular people, ordinary people who did extraordinary things. These women did things that change history. What I’m seeing now is regular and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. There is a sacrifice that goes along with that. It’s not easy.
What about in our industry and Hollywood?
Now we’re gonna see. I look at somebody like Brad Pitt, and I say, “There’s a man who has been making movies and TV shows that have employed African Americans, that have told the African American story.”
If you ask me my favorite Hollywood moment since I’ve worked here, it was going to New Orleans and watching what he did after Katrina with building those houses and being there for those people, many who look like me, and it’s why I have such crazy respect for that guy.
I want to see if the rest of Hollywood is going to step up and say, “Hey, let’s look at this through a diversified lens.”
Let me say this, that’s not the same for everybody in his circle. You can look to people around him who have made a lot of movies that have very few African Americans attached or anything to do with it. The fact that he’s making movies that matter, it means a lot. When there was a disaster, he went into a place where other people didn’t want to go. I don’t think that people see that enough. Now, I want to see who else is going to do that.
Talk about representation in the newsroom and being the face of “Entertainment Tonight.”
The fascinating thing that we have to keep in mind is that much of the entertainment industry and the industries that we see and we love are driven by Black culture. I find it fascinating when we can represent that culture inside the people who report on it. I’ll never forget when I went to interview Deion Sanders when he was at the height of his fame as a baseball and football player. He was playing with the Atlanta Braves and I walked into the clubhouse. He looked around the room. And he said, ‘You know, I’m going to talk to the young brother right over there because he’s the only one in the clubhouse.’ I didn’t even think and I looked around and thought it was crazy. We had this beautiful conversation. I am so thankful that “Entertainment Tonight” has on the TV side embraced the site I started, Hip Hollywood, which is about African American entertainment.
I thank of all the movie studios and TV studios that put us on the carpet. But I also say to the stars into the movie companies — you can’t ignore the Black medium. You can’t take away those opportunities either. The fact that I am the host of the number one entertainment show in the world is never lost on me. Every day I drive to the gate, I feel like my grandfather riding in the car with me, he would be so happy and so proud. And so I say kudos to CBS every day, but there’s still more to do.