Actress Jane Fonda has been a legend for decades. And, apparently, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has caught on, at least long enough to deliver her the well-deserved 2021 Cecil B. DeMille Award for her illustrious career. But Fonda—ever unexpected, ever eager to move the spotlight onto a greater cause—used her time on stage at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards to focus not on her accomplishments but on the gaping hole in the film industry.
Although she never directly mentioned the recent reports that the HFPA has no Black members—and hasn’t for nearly two decades—her inspiring monologue alluded to the data multiple times. You can read the full speech below.
You know, I’ve seen a lot of diversity in my long life, and at times I’ve been challenged to understand some of the people I have met. But inevitably, if my heart is open and I look beneath the surface, I feel kinship. That’s why all of the great conduits of perception—Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, Lao Tzu—all of them spoke to us in stories and poetry and metaphor. Because the nonlinear, non-cerebral forms that are art speak on a different frequency. They generate a new energy that can jolt us open and penetrate our defences, so we can see and hear what we might have been afraid of seeing and hearing.
Just this year, Nomadland helped me feel love for the wanderers among us, and Minari opened my eyes to the experiences of immigrants dealing with the realities of life in a new land, and Judas and the Black Messiah, Small Axe, The U.S. vs. Billie Holiday, Ma Rainey and One Night in Miami and others have deepened my empathy for what being Black has meant. Ramy helped me feel what it means to be Muslim American. I May Destroy You has taught me to consider sexual violence in a whole new way. The documentary All In reminds us how fragile our democracy is and inspires us to fight to preserve it. And A Life On Our Planet shows us how fragile our small blue planet is and inspires us to save it and ourselves.
Stories, they really can change people. But there’s a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry. A story about which voices we respect and elevate, and which we tune out. A story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. So let’s all of us, including all the groups who decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards—let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.
I mean, doing this simply means acknowledging what’s true. Being in step with the emerging diversity that’s happening because of all those who’ve marched and fought in the past and those who’ve picked up the baton today. After all, art has always been not just in step with history, but has lit the way. Let’s be leaders. Okay? Thank you. Thank you so much.
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