Actress Meryl Streep was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, a lifetime achievement award, at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards. She used her acceptance speech to attack Donald Trump’s divisive politics, defend the free press and make a case for more empathy.
Here is the text, in full:
“I love you all, but you’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend, and I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read.
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.
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 Ireland, and she’s here nominated for playing a small‑town girl from Virginia.
Related: Donald Trump’s reaction to Streep
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.
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. There was nothing good about it, but it was effective, and it did 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 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 gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use definition to bully others, we all lose.
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‑heeled 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.
One more thing. Once, when I was standing around on set one day, whining about something—we were going to 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 very 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.’ Thank you, friend.”