• Golden Globe Awards

The (Unforgettable ) Meryl Streep Speech at the 2017 Golden Globes

It was the acceptance speech heard around the world, viewed, and retweeted millions of times. Yet, Meryl Streep’s powerful Cecil B. deMille Award acceptance speech almost did not happen.
For Lorenzo Soria, then president of the HFPA, “Meryl Streep was an obvious choice. Who else had been such a strong presence in cinema, making us think, laugh and cry, inspiring us, and ultimately, reflect and illuminate the human condition? Who else had contributed as much to break both the gender and age barriers? And when it came to the Globes, who else had 29 (during that time in October last year; by December, she had 30 and this year, she has 32) nominations and 8 wins?”
“The issue was, would she come and accept?” Soria recalled the crucial question. “But I could not think of anyone else. So I got the vote and support of the HFPA board. I sent a letter to Meryl’s representatives, expressing my congratulations and my hope to see her on January 8. It took a few days to get an answer. It was not good – on that night, she was apparently going to be busy filming Mary Poppins ReturnsSoria was undeterred. “I replied that we would proceed anyway, Meryl or no Meryl. A few days later, we learned that the filming schedule had changed and we got a yes. She would join us.”
The suspense did not end there. “In the hours prior to the show, Barry Adelman, our executive producer, was worried,” Soria said. “We knew Meryl was taking her speech seriously. We had also been warned by her people that she was going to go a little longer than expected. We asked them to cut the speech and she did. But we knew she would take a few minutes more than what is considered ideal.
“What we did not know, because none of us had seen the text of her speech before, was that with her speech in defense of foreigners, journalists, the arts and human dignity, Meryl was going to electrify the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, the entire country and the rest of the world. That speech would go viral, played, and replayed by tens of millions.
“Mr. Donald Trump had not been inaugurated as President yet, but that was the first sign that a good portion of the country would not stand for bullying the weak and that the arts mattered. He then sent one of his morning tweets, calling Meryl ‘over-rated,’ which only helped bring even more attention to the speech and to make the Golden Globes part of the national conversation.”
Soria still vividly remembers his reaction to the speech by Streep, who spoke with a hoarse voice but moved the audience to stand up and cheer, and stirred misty-eyed reaction from the stars, from Kerry Washington to Viola Davis.
“I was in the ballroom sitting at my table,” Soria recounted. “One minute into Meryl’s speech, I was standing like everyone else. I had goosebumps. I was moved. I felt that no matter what one’s political views were, that was going to be one of the most memorable moments of the Golden Globes’ 75-year history.”
Published originally in the commemorative book of the 75th Golden Globe Awards, in 2018.
President Lorenzo Soria died in August of 2020.