During the 2017 Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep was awarded the prestigious Cecil B. Demille Award, which is given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment".
Although she took the stage with a raspy voice and an alleged time limit, Meryl was prepared to give a awe-inspiring 6-minute speech about privilege, empathy, the role of actors, and how to navigate life during a Trump presidency.
Streep noted that the same actors and actresses that were being celebrated that night were foreigners and posited that their diverse backgrounds should be cherished. "Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners," Streep insisted. "If you kick em out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts.” View the speech and read the transcript below.
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 just that — breathtaking, compassionate work.
But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good… there was nothing good about it. But it was effective at its job. 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— it kinda broke my heart when 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 kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. Okay, go on with it.
Okay, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.
One more thing. Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” 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 proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.
As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.