“We’re All Africans Really,” Meryl Streep Explains

Photo: Henry Lamb/Photowire/BEImages/REX Shutterstock.
Usually, we're behind many of the things that come out of Meryl Streep's mouth. But a recent offhand comment has us befuddled. A little bit of background: The star is currently the acting jury president at the Berlin International Film Festival. During a Q&A with reporters, the fact came up that the panel she's heading is 100% white. Streep addressed questions about the judges’ ethnic homogeneity, saying, "There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we're all from Africa originally," according to the Associated Press. "You know, we're all," she paused, before adding, "Berliners, we're all Africans really." Maybe she was aiming for a cheeky historical reference? The fest is, after all, held in the same city where John F. Kennedy gave his famed "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. But even if that's the case, Streep's response doesn't exactly address the real issue, which is that work from around the world is being evaluated by a panel that doesn't represent a diverse perspective. The award-winning actress did address the gender makeup of the panel, however. "This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that's an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions," she explained. "So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game." She also admitted that while she might not be deeply familiar with the global regions of all the films and filmmakers, her body of work will help her with the task at hand. "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures," Streep said. She also added that while this is the first time she's been a jury president, she's confident she'll figure it out. "I have absolutely no idea how to run a jury but I've been the boss of other enterprises, my family and various other things. So I'm going to learn by doing."

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