Whoopsies: Rosario Dawson Learns About Picket Lines After Crossing One
She's the only celeb to sign the Chateau Marmont boycott pledge after attending Jay-Z's Oscar party
It’s so hard to understand things — air travel, weather predictions, how to read a paperback without breaking the spine — and celebrities, being just like us, are as prone to conceptual bewilderment as the gentleman sitting beside you on the bus. In this way, they are human, just with more money. Take for example, the several dozen celebrities who, unwittingly or not, crossed a picket line on Sunday night to party with Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
The source of the confusion was the Gold Party, the Carters’ annual Oscars afterparty at the Chateau Marmont. This year’s installation was the couple’s first in two years; the last one was canceled for obvious reasons. In the time since the 2020 bash, however, the Chateau Marmont has become a controversial Hollywood venue. During the pandemic, the owner André Balazs announced that the storied hotel would become a “member-only” lodging — a pivot that involved laying off 248 of his longtime staff in the middle of the pandemic. At the time, the workers had been attempting to form a union, and many saw Balazs’ move as a strategy to bust it before it began.
In the aftermath, dozens of former employees came forward about the Chateau’s work conditions — an allegedly gnarly environment rife with sexual misconduct and racial distrimination. Worker protests proliferated outside the hotel, and two former employees — Thomasina Gross, a Black ex-events server, and Adrian Jules, a Black ex-guest relations staffer — filed lawsuits over the alleged discrimination. Meanwhile, the Chateau’s workers have been leading a boycott for almost two years, and not quietly. Many public figures have endorsed it, including Gabrielle Union, Issa Rae, Samira Wiley, Robin Thede, Quinta Brunson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Ashley Nicole Black, Adam McKay, David Sirota, and Jane Fonda.
But the Carters clearly missed the memo, or didn’t care. Their party went on, in spite of a very large picket line outside the hotel’s entrance on Oscar night. Many of their guests walked past the picket line as well — which was, notably, hard to miss. The organizers, including the hospitality union UNITE HERE Local 11, set up a step-and-repeat at the base of the hotel’s driveway, and strung lights around the block. The nearly 100 attendants held up glow sticks, chanted, and blasted disco music in the background. If somehow you’d failed to catch on, there was a giant logo projected like the bat call against the hotel facade. It read: “Boycott.”
Rosario Dawson arrived at the party around 1 a.m. when the protesters had largely emptied out. Yet one would think a seasoned politico like Dawson, who dated Sen. Cory Booker for two years and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the last presidential election, might be familiar with the concept of a picket line. She did play famous labor organizer Dolores Huerta in the Cesar Chavez biopic. But Dawson claimed she didn’t cross one:
Perhaps Dawson thought that the boycott, which has been in place for almost two years, had ended when the protesters left. Or maybe Dawson had sincerely not heard of it until after her arrival. Dawson did not return our request for comment. But unlike other celebrities who attended the Gold Party, she did address the hotel’s labor fight after the fact. When a UNITE HERE organizer noted she could still sign the boycott pledge, Dawson added her name. According to UNITE HERE, she was the only celebrity in attendance to do so.
“It’s not too late for celebrities to right their wrong,” UNITE HERE Local 11 spokesperson Maria Hernandez told Gawker. “Some of them might say they didn’t know about the boycott. But now they do. And they can sign the pledge.”
Alex Roldan, a former Chateau houseman, worked Jay-Z’s Oscar parties multiple times during his four-and-a-half years at the hotel. At the 2020 party, he sustained an eye injury while moving a shattered glass table into storage. Rolban told Gawker that Dawson’s support was a good sign that the film industry was catching onto the boycott. “It means a lot that she would support the workers at the Chateau,” Rolban said. “We need support from people who work in film.”
But if they have caught on, few other stars have said anything about it. Other celebrities who attended the party, according to the Hollywood Reporter and Page Six, included:
- Janelle Monáe
- Emily Ratajkowski
- Daniel Kaluuya
- Kim Kardashian
- Timothée Chalamet
- Michael B. Jordan
- Mindy Kaling
- Tiffany Haddish
- Tyler Perry
- Kodi Smit-McPhee
- Zoe Kravitz
- Snoop Dogg
- Winnie Harlow
- Jon Hamm
- French Montana
- P. Diddy
- DJ Khaled
- Troy Kotsur
- Chris Pine
- Jessica Alba
- Justin Timberlake
- Lupita Nyong’o
- Vin Diesel
Update: Gawker recently learned the following stars were in attendance as well:
- Serena Williams
- Venus Williams
Maybe these celebrities were still dizzy from watching Will Smith slap Chris Rock on live television. Or perhaps they don’t understand what a picket line is. It is so complicated. Where’s the line? These protestors were milling about in all sorts of shapes, trying to avoid arrest by Los Angeles police and the private security force the Carters hired to keep out the riff raff. How is the average star supposed to figure out where to walk safely?
“We commend Rosario Dawson for having the courage to publicly choose to support workers at Chateau Marmont after attending Jay-Z’s Gold Party, said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “We hope that other stars who violated the boycott follow her lead and right this wrong. They still have a chance to support black women by boycotting and not giving their business to a boss like Andre Balazs.”