There were plenty of celebrities who crossed the picket line despite protestors, including Emily Ratajkowski, Rosario Dawson, Michael B. Jordan, and Zoe Kravitz.
On Sunday evening, March 27, protesters picketing Jay-Z’s Gold Party warmed up by throwing their own party. As the crowd gathered at the end of the hotel’s driveway, they erected a step-and-repeat, projected a logo reading “Boycott” across the hotel’s exterior, strung lights along Marmont Lane, donned glow sticks, led raucous chants, and played disco hits from a DJ rig.
They arrived after the billionaire musician refused to relocate his event from the grounds of the legendary Sunset Strip property, which has been embroiled in controversy since 2020, when Chateau Marmont owner Andre Balazs laid off nearly all of his employees without providing them with severance packages or extended health insurance. Several months later, more than 30 employees spoke out about long-simmering workplace issues, including allegations of racial discrimination and sexual misconduct. Since 2021, UNITE HERE Local 11 has led a boycott of the hotel, and Jay-Z has publicly urged him to respect the boycott after the Gold Party’s location was revealed.
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Among those protesting were former Chateau Marmont workers, hotel union members, students and left-leaning entertainment employees organized by the UNITE HERE chapter. At first, they surveyed the perimeter of the property, examining possible alternate VIP entry points, which included a path through the former Chateau Hanare omakase restaurant on the east end of the property and a narrow walkway through the exclusive Bungalow 3 adjacent to Monteel Road to the north. Arriving early was met with shouts of “Shame on you!”
However, by the 11 p.m. start time, people began to gather along Sunset Boulevard, where the main entrance of the Gold Party funnelled guests into a former bar space. Protesters were confined behind barricades abutting Selma Avenue by dozens of LAPD officers and private security personnel. Their goal was to draw the attention of the fleet of black Cadillac Escalades and GMC Yukon Denalis that were slowly pulling up and then idling in the lengthy valet line.
The protestors distributed leaflets and accosted guests as they arrived. The union representative said Casey Affleck turned away from the party when he heard about the protest from the organizers. LaKeith Stanfield also told the protesters, “I respect what you’re doing.” (It’s unclear if he went inside later.)
Conversations were not always friendly. One sign-carrying man yelled at a scowling woman in a gown, “I saw you in that straight-to-DVD movie.”. In one Escalade, a tuxedoed passenger rolled down his window, smiled at the expectant crowd, and shouted, apparently mocking the idea of appealing to the moral character of revellers like himself – “I sell drugs to children!”.”
One protestor with a megaphone jubilantly announced that by 1 a.m., the protestors had “sent a powerful message to the wealthy people in Hollywood.” A photographer from Fame Pictures snapped away, nodding.
Despite protests, the party continued. Soon Janelle Monae and Saweetie appeared. As part of the event, they were joined by, among others, Emily Ratajkowski, Daniel Kaluuya, Kim Kardashian, Timothée Chalamet, Rosario Dawson, Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling, Tiffany Haddish, Tyler Perry, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Zoe Kravitz. As seen on his Instagram account, Questlove was inside spinning “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” while his best documentary Oscar – which he had won earlier in the night for Summer of Soul – stood sentinel at his DJ rig.
Thomasina Gross, a former Chateau Marmont employee, quietly observed the passing SUVs at the barricade. As the Gold Party wore on, staffers would hand out slippers to guests as sunrise approached. She served at the event from 2017 to 2019. In 2021, she filed a civil lawsuit, which is now in arbitration. Gross said that it feels good to be seen and heard. “It’s a shame that we’re on this side of the gate but we have to make some noise to change the culture.”
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.