You Need To Know This About Meryl Streep's Speech

by Allie Gemmill
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

A lot of landmark stuff went down at the 2017 Golden Globes, but Meryl Streep's speech during her acceptance of the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement Award is among the top moments of the night that will remain in the public discourse for a while longer. That's because Streep took to the stage to speak not about her lifetime of acting achievements, but rather zero in on the importance of Hollywood and the press in the drastically changing political landscape. While it's important to note the political heft of her speech, if there's just one thing to know from Meryl Streep's 2017 Golden Globes speech it's this: Streep shattered an important illusion about her celebrity when she recognized other actors in the room, citing their birthplaces while doing so.

As she went around the room and called out certain actors, citing their birthplace to support her argument that yes, Hollywood is full of "foreigners and outsiders":

I was born and raised and created in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola [Davis] was born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina, and grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Italy. Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in 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.

Streep broke down, consciously or not, one of the most widely accepted conclusions about her celebrity: that she is one of the greatest actors and that puts her in a class above everyone else.

Even in passing, you may have heard people refer to Streep in awe and wonder before. Her acting prowess, for which she rightfully earned the DeMille, has elevated her stature in Hollywood to the point where it may be easy to classify her as an actor unlike anyone else, so great and so untouchable the she wouldn't bother to learn your name.

But that was not the case on Sunday night. Streep knew names and better still, she knew birthplaces. By calling upon various nominated actors and recognizing them with such a personal detail as a birthplace or place or origin, Streep shattered the illusion that she didn't see us in the way we saw her. She indicated to us that she took a moment to learn something about her peers and considered herself on the same level as anyone else.

I am not going to condescend to Streep and applaud her for bothering to care. That's not it at all. It was simply that witness a humane act like that one that occurred at the hands of Streep was truly remarkable. For all of the posturing and ego-boosting that infiltrates Hollywood, Streep taking the time to illustrate how we all come from somewhere (which often isn't Hollywood), how deeply those identities are tied to us, and why we should all stand on equal ground.

But let's be real: the entire speech was so damn amazing. I mean, if ever there was a piece of media to watch and rewatch, it would be Streep's Golden Globes speech. Seriously, go watch it.