'When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.'
On Jan. 8, 2017, legendary actor Meryl Streep accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Golden Globes for her long career of groundbreaking artistry in film and television.
Streep was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her role in "Florence Foster Jenkins," a category that went to Emma Stone in "La La Land" toward the night's end.
But Streep's impressive 30th Golden Globe nomination was quickly overshadowed by her powerful Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech — a passionate rebuke of the next U.S. president and a call for all of us to continue making impactful, important art. (It didn't take long, of course, for Trump to take to Twitter for a response.)
Streep began her speech by celebrating Hollywood's diverse pool of talent from across the country and globe — a clear jab at President-elect Donald Trump.
"Who are we and, you know, what is Hollywood, anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places," Streep said, naming the various backgrounds of several actors, including Natalie Portman, who is originally from Jerusalem, and Viola Davis, who was born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina.
Davis, a good friend of Streep's, presented her with the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Earlier this month, Streep spoke at Davis' Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.
"Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners," Streep said. "And if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts."
Then Streep got more serious.
Streep described being "stunned" by Trump's now-notorious mocking of a disabled reporter and why it completely broke her heart.
"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, 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, it kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life."
Streep outlined why Trump's bullying tactics aren't just wrong at face value, but why their ripple effect end up doing so much harm.
"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 said.
"Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."
Streep then shifted to how we can stand up to this bigotry moving forward.
Streep encouraged everyone watching to support an open and fair press — another clear rebuke to Trump, who built his campaign in part from criticizing journalists and news organizations and telling many, many lies along the way.
"We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage," Streep said. "That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms 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, ’cause we’re going to need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth."
After Streep reflected on how fortunate she is to be an actor, she reminded everyone in the room that acting is not just an art — it's a responsibility.
"Once, when I was standing around the 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?'" Streep said. "Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight."
Streep fittingly closed her speech recalling a piece of advice her friend, the late Carrie Fisher, once told her.
"As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, 'Take your broken heart, make it into art,'" Streep concluded.
You don't have to be an actor to live by that advice.
It was a powerful end to a poignant speech that will likely be relevant for years.
While Streep's record-setting 30 nominations may have cemented her name in the Golden Globe history books, it was her words of compassion and inclusion on stage Sunday night that cemented her message into the hearts and minds of so many of us watching.
Thank you, Meryl.