Meryl Streep says “distorted reporting” resulted in a global controversy after she made remarks during a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival in Germany earlier this month. It was the first time the three-time Oscar winner had served on a film festival jury, which turned out to consist only of white people — a racial makeup she points out that she had no hand in determining. Streep’s comments were criticized on social media and ignited a debate about Hollywood’s diversity problem, but in an essay for The Huffington Post, the screen legend explains that the “we’re all Africans, really” line that stirred such an uproar was taken out of context and was in response to a question a reporter had asked her about a Tunisian film that dealt with Arab and African culture. Streep said the phrase was part of a “long-winded” answer she gave to that question. “Contrary to distorted reporting, no one at that press conference addressed a question to me about the racial makeup of the jury,” she writes in the essay. Streep says she told the reporter she’d seen the movies Theeb and Timbuktu — and had enjoyed them.
Then, she supplies readers with the full answer she gave to the reporter. “I don’t know very much about, honestly, the Middle East … and yet I’ve played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures. And the thing I notice is that we’re all — I mean there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all, we’re all from Africa originally, you know? We’re all Berliners, we’re all Africans, really.”
Streep said all of the publicity and headlines surrounding the controversy were misguided and actually took attention away from what she sees as the real story to have emerged from the film festival — a mistake that she says has left American audiences “unaware.” Streep will be appearing onstage at the 7th Annual Women in the World Summit in New York Summit this April.
Read the full essay at The Huffington Post.