'When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose'
When collecting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. deMille Award – which honours outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment - Meryl Streep used her time in the spotlight to attack president-elect Trump in a powerful and emotional speech.
She begun by addressing the audience. 'You, and all of us in the room, belong to the most vilified segments in America right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.'
She went on to praise Hollywood’s ability to bring people from all over the world together, naming the birth places of herself, and other actors in the room, to highlight the diversity and multitude of nationalities that Hollywood garners.
'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.'
She went on to commend the efforts of actors who, through their 'compassionate' work, so accurately portray the lives of others. 'An actors' only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.'
She then pointed out that the talent that makes up Hollywood is at a disadvantage under Trump's administration. Whilst expressing her love for the 'many, many, many powerful performances' that have made 'breathtaking work', she noted there was one performance she could not forget – that of Donald Trump.
Referencing the time in 2015 when the president-elect had mocked Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times investigative journalist, by imitating his handicap, Meryl said: '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 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.
'This instinct to humiliate when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life,' she continued. 'Because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
'Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.'
She went on to describe the important role the press has to play in holding 'power' to account, to 'call them on the carpet for every outrage'.
'That’s why our founders enshrine the press and its freedoms in our constitution,' she said.
She recalled the time Tommy Lee Jones once said to her: 'Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor'.
'Yeah it is,' she responded, '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 honours here tonight.'
To end, she referenced a conversation she had had with the late Carrie Fisher. Fighting back tears, she concluded, 'As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, “Take your broken heart, make it into art".'
Watch Meryl's speech in full