Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globes Awards on Sunday evening.
The veteran actress, who was nominated this year for best performance by an actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical for her work in Florence Foster Jenkins, was presented the honor by her Doubt costar Viola Davis.
“You make me proud to be an artist,” Davis, 51, told Streep. “You make me feel that what I had in me … is enough.”
Streep, an eight-time Golden Globe winner who has been nominated an astounding 29 times, proceeded to take the stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom to a standing ovation from the audience.
“Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please sit down,” said Streep, who donned a black floor-length, bejeweled gown with a plunging neckline. “I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve lost my voice in screaming in lamentation this weekend,” she said in reference to Carrie Fisher’s funeral, and added, “and I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year so I have to read”
- Watch PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Sunday night and streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.
The actress, 67, then proceeded to read her acceptance speech, first thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press before taking aim at president-elect Donald Trump — without saying his name once in her pointed speech.
“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?” she said before pointing out numerous foreign actors in the room. “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,” she said about the industry’s diversity. “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.”
RELATED VIDEO: Exclusive: Natasha Stoynoff Speaks Out: ‘I Don’t Want Women to Feel Afraid’
Streep then addressed the real-life “performance” from 2016 that “stunned” her, referencing Trump’s presidential win in November. A year before his win, Trump came under fire in 2015 for mocking New York Times investigative reporter Serge F. Kovaleski by impersonating his physical handicap.
“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.
“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,” added Streep of Trump’s impersonation. “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.”
- Want to win a trip to L.A.? Enter now for your chance to be at the Oscars® Red Carpet
She continued, “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. The powerful — use definition to bully others, we all lose. Okay. Go on with that thing,” said Streep, who called for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to protect journalists. “This brings me to the press. We need a principled 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 said in defense of the press.
“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.”
The honoree then closed her speech with a heartfelt tribute to the late 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.”
Following her speech, numerous A-list actors took to social media to applaud Streep, including Brie Larson who recognized her in an Instagram post. “Fully sobbing. This is what a leader of truth, compassion and freedom for all looks like. Thank you #MerylStreep.”
Jimmy Fallon hosted the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom on Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.