Actress Meryl Streep has come under fire after telling a jury at the Berlin International Film Festival that she thinks that “we’re all Africans, really”, when asked to comment on racial diversity in the film industry.
The response came during a news conference on Thursday where Streep was asked to weigh in on the #OscarsSoWhite debate, and why the Berlin jury had no black members.
“I am very committed to equality and inclusion of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions,” Streep said. “There should be inclusion and this jury is evidence that at least women are included and, in fact, dominate this jury.”
She added: “So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game,” she added, according to AP.
From the wire service:
Asked by an Egyptian reporter whether she understood films from the Arab world and North Africa, Streep said that while she didn’t know much about the region, “I’ve played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures.”
“There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we’re all from Africa originally,” she added. “Berliners, we’re all Africans, really.”
The comment has earned her criticism online and a spot as worldwide top trending topic on Twitter. Entertainment Weekly suggested that the line may have been a nod to President John F. Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech he delivered in 1963.
oOoh meryl streep is trending 🙂
— Olly Alexander (@alexander_olly) February 11, 2016
btw, shoutout to everyone who wants to agree with meryl streep but, yanno, doesn’t really wanna be called african. what a quote, man. — El Flaco (@bomani_jones) February 11, 2016
Today I think Meryl Streep has never been luckier that she’s not on Twitter.
— Travon Free (@Travon) February 11, 2016
“We’re all Africans, really” is like something Meryl Streep would say on the CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM version of the Oscars. — Miriam Bale (@mimbale) February 11, 2016
Meryl Streep saying “this jury is evidence that at least women are included” is so problematic. It’s fundamentally saying “WoC aren’t women”
— Carimah Townes (@CarimahWheat) February 11, 2016
The Berlin International Film Festival is the first major European festival of the year, and its jury will select Golden Bear winners and films for other awards. Members include actors Lars Eidinger, Clive Owen and Alba Rohrwacher; director Malgorzata Szumowska; film critic Nick James; and photographer Brigitte Lacombe.
Streep said the panel, with not just actors but a film critic and others, will have diverse views, Reuters reported.
“We will be looking at different things in these films but we’re human beings and film is an emotional experience so … we’re going to make these decisions based on what our heads want to say,” Streep said, according to Reuters. “But we’re first attacked by the heart, so that’s an interesting process. I’m so looking forward to it.”
The festival will focus on themes related to immigration and refugees this year.