Meryl Streep admits there was one performance that broke her heart this year – and it wasn't one by an actor or actress.
The 67-year-old Florence Foster Jenkins star, who was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, took the stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday to accept the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Streep, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe 30 times throughout her career, the most of any man or woman in all film and television categories combined, delivered a speech that was moving, inspiring and endearing.
"Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. This town, thank you," Streep said while accepting her lifetime achievement award. "I love you all, but you'll have to forgive me. I've lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend, and I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read. 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 asked. "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 [Davis] 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. 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."
Streep told the audience that although there "there were many, many, many powerful performances" this year that featured "breathtaking, compassionate work," there was one that really stood out to her.
"There was one performance this year that stunned me," Steep said, seemingly shading President-elect Donald Trump without directly using his name. "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 it's intended audience laugh, and show their teeth."
"It was that moment," she continued, "when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter [The New York Times' Serge Kovaleski], someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back."
"It kind of broke my heart when I saw it," she added, holding back tears. "And 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 modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, 'cause it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing."
"Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence," she continued. "The powerful‑use definition to bully others, we all lose."
After then stressing the importance of the press -- telling the crowd "we need the principal press to hold power" and asking the HFPA and community to join her in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists -- Streep then gave a nod to late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, who died last month at the age of 60.
"One more thing. Once when I was standing around on 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?'" she exclaimed. "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. As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, 'Take your broken heart and make it into art.' Thank you, friend."
The accolade was presented to Steep for her outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced she'd be this year's recipient last November.
"It's no surprise that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has chosen Meryl Streep as the recipient of the 2017 Cecil B. DeMille Award. Meryl's enthralling body of work across a diverse set of genres has made her a role model over the past 40 years, and she will continue to do so for generations to come," Lorenzo Soria, President of the HFPA, said in a statement at the time. "[Meryl] has always taken roles with strong female leads, creating art by showing vulnerability and portraying truth on the big screen."
"Simply put, she is a trailblazer, having paved the way for women in television, film and stage," Soria continued. "For shattering gender and age barriers, all with finesse and grace, the HFPA is humbled to bestow this honor upon her."
Past recipients of the award include Denzel Washington (2016), George Clooney (2015), Woody Allen (2014), Jodie Foster (2013), Morgan Freeman, (2012), Robert De Niro (2011) and Martin Scorsese (2010).