The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards honoured actress Meryl Streep with the Cecil B. DeMille Award on Sunday evening. Now we don’t like calling her a veteran actress because she still looks so very radiant! Regardless, the actress claims to have lost her mind already as she reached for her little cheat-sheet which bore her acceptance speech.
As she walked up to the stage to accept the award from Fences star Viola Davis in her stunning black dress, she received a standing ovation from the crowd. The eight-time Golden Globe winner said in a hushed voice, “I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve lost my voice in screaming in lamentation this weekend.”
She then lightened the mood with a quippy remark at the HFPA saying, “Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press, just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it, Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.
As Streep proceeded to speak about the diversity that Hollywood harbours, she quickly and unexpectedly turned focus to the new President of the United States, Donald Trump. She said, “But who are we? And what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places.”
“I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Venento, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in, no, in Ireland, I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a small‑town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Her remark was followed by a huge uproar in the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom but she didn’t stop and neither did the crowd. “They gave me three seconds to say this. So an actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like, and there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hook in my heart not because it was good. It was — there was nothing good about it — but it was effective and it did its job,” she said referencing to the time when Donald Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter for the New York Times.
She expressed her utter disgust at the sight of the Republican’s insensitive imitation of Kovaleski, with barely a mind to understand the privilege he has relished. “It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart, and I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said.
“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. The powerful — use definition to bully others, we all lose. Okay. Go on with that thing. This brings me to the press. We need the principal press to hold power to account to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedom in our Constitution. So I only ask the famously well‑healed Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists because we are going to need them going forward and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
She then concluded by reminding the room full of artists of the responsibilty they have on their shoulders. “One more thing. Once, when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, ‘isn’t it such a privilege Meryl just to be an actor?’ ” to which she responded, ” ‘Yeah, it is.’ And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.”
Finally, Streep struggled to quote her departed friend Carrie Fisher, “As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia said to me once, ‘take your broken heart, make it into art.’ Thank you, friend.” Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Over the years, Meryl Streep has inspired us with her brilliant renditions in movies like Sophie’s Choice, The Devil Wears Prada, The Iron Lady and of course, Florence Foster Jenkins. But today, she inspired us with her compassion and bravery. And when I try and think of a more befitting recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, I can’t.
— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) January 9, 2017