LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep berated President-elect Donald Trump for his divisive rhetoric as she received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes on Sunday.
The 67-year-old fought to control her emotions as she received a standing ovation during her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
“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,” she said to her peers with a laugh.
“But who are we? And, you know, what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places.”
Streep spoke out with less than two weeks to go until the inauguration of Trump, who ran a divisive presidential campaign vilifying Mexicans and calling for a ban on Muslim immigration.
Trump’s election came with the movie industry embroiled in its own debate about an Oscars shut-out for non-white actors as well as unequal pay between the sexes.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts,” she said, holding back tears.
Streep, considered among the best actresses of her generation, was presented with the award to mark a career which has seen her win eight Golden Globes and collect 29 nominations.
‘Disrespect invites disrespect’
She tore strips off Trump for the infamous campaign speech during which he did a decidedly unflattering impression of disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski — the Republican president-elect denies mocking the man.
“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 when I saw it,” she said.
“I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled 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.”
“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence,” she said.
“When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
‘Hold power to account’
She urged the “principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage,” to cheers from the floor.
She also spoke of the privilege of being given the chance to act for a living and remembered her friend, “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher, who died after Christmas, one day before her mother Debbie Reynolds.
“As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once: take your broken heart, make it into art.”
Streep was nominated for best actress in a musical or comedy film at the glitzy ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for her performance in Stephen Frears’s “Florence Foster Jenkins” but lost out to Emma Stone.
The annual DeMille award honors those who have made “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.”
Recent winners include Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.