A Look Back at Meryl Streep's Fiery 2017 Golden Globes Speech — and the Media Storm It Stirred
Viewers can expect more than a few celebrities to use their platform at this year's Golden Globes ceremony to spread an important message
It won’t be all about the glitz and glamor at this year’s Golden Globe ceremony.
With the current political climate and Hollywood’s ongoing sexual harassment scandal, viewers can expect more than a few celebrities to use their platform at this year’s awards show to spread an important message.
Ahead of the Jan. 7 awards ceremony, PEOPLE is taking a look back at Meryl Streep‘s empowered 2017 acceptance speech — and the media storm that followed.
Streep delivered the now-viral speech while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at last year’s ceremony.
The Florence Foster Jenkins star focused her acceptance speech on President-elect Donald Trump, although she never mentioned him by name.
“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.”
She also spoke at length about an incident on the campaign trail when Trump appeared to mock a disabled reporter during a rally.
“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.”
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.”
President Donald Trump’s Reaction
The then-president-elect spoke briefly with The New York Times over the telephone following the award show, telling the paper he was “not surprised” that he was attacked by “liberal movie people” and referred to Streep as “a Hillary lover.”
The next morning, he continued to blast Streep in a series of tweets, calling her one of the “most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and insisting that he wasn’t mocking a disabled reporter but was instead trying to imitate his alleged “groveling.”
A Showing of Support
Following Trump’s reaction, celebrities showed up in force to support the actress, who received threats from Trump supporters in response to her speech, multiple sources confirmed at the time. George Takei, Billy Eichner, Elizabeth Banks and more stars were quick to come to Streep’s defense on social media.
“We will need a lot of people as clear and brave as Meryl Streep if we are to fight the corruption, bad ideas and lies of Donald Trump,” tweeted Judd Apatow.
The 2018 Golden Globes are set to air Sunday, January 7, on NBC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PST.