Meryl Streep sidestepped the standard Hollywood "Thank you" speech when accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award at the Golden Gloves Sunday, instead using her platform to deliver a scathing condemnation of president-elect Donald Trump. It was a powerful, almost stunning moment, not least since the legendary actor delivered the speech in a Miranda Pirestly-like whisper, acknowledging she'd lost her voice.
"I lost my mind sometimes earlier this year, so I have to read," she said before saying that the best performance she saw this year was one that leveled her. "Imitating a disabled reporter," she said, referring to Trump's mocking of a reporter on the campaign trail, "it broke my heart."
The instinct to humiliate, she said, gives permission for others to do the same. "Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence." Hollywood, she said, is crawling with foreigners; she called out Ryan Gosling for being Canadian, Dev Patel for being born in Kenya and raised in London, Sarah Paulson for being raised in Brooklyn by a single mother. "Where are their birth certificates?" If you kick them out, she said, "you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts." The stunned, nearly silent audience then cheered in applause.
It was a speech for the ages — a gut-punch not only for its directness but also because it followed a similarly goosebump-inducing introduction from Viola Davis. "You are a muse," Davis said to Streep, with whom she worked on Doubt and, she said, tried to tell Streep how much she meant to her. "Your impact encouraged me to stand the line Dame Streep... You make me proud to be an artist. You make me feel that what I have in me — my body, my face, my age — is enough."
Concluding her acceptance speech, Streep invoked the importance of the press — saying it was more important now than ever — and that she was going to follow the advice of her friend Carrie Fisher. "Take your broken heart and make it into art."