Accepting the the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the Golden Globes, Jane Fonda made an heartfelt plea for Hollywood to ramp up its push toward diversity both on and off screen. (Watch the full speech above.)
She reeled off the titles of several recent films that had “deepened my empathy,” before turning her focus to the entertainment industry. “Stories really can change people,” she said. “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 is offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.”
Fonda continued, “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.”
As an eight-time Golden Globe winner (and 15-time nominee), Fonda began her speech with a heartfelt thank-you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Apart from a glancing reference to awards organizations during her call for inclusiveness, she did not make any mention of the HFPA’s high-profile struggle to retain its foothold in awards season. After an investigative report in the LA Times raised oft-mounted critiques of the group’s ethics, a number of industry figures also blasted the group for not having a single Black member, a fact that members acknowledged onstage earlier in the NBC telecast.
Fonda’s speech represented a departure from those given by many De Mille recipients, who tend to reflect on specific collaborations with filmmakers or actors or others in the business. Fonda, for one thing, was far more brief, speaking for barely three-and-a-half minutes. Rather than going through a list of names or projects, instead focusing on larger themes, naming “all the great conduits of perception — Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, Lao Tse — all of them spoke to us in stories and poetry and metaphor because the non-linear, non-cerebral of our art speak on a different frequency.”
The De Mille award is chosen by the HFPA Board of Directors and given annually to an individual who has made a lasting impact on the film industry.
Fonda, daughter of Hollywood legend Henry Fonda and brother of the late Easy Rider actor Peter Fonda, is a two-time Oscar-winning actress (1971’s Klute and 1978’s Coming Home), producer, author, activist and fitness guru.
A co-star of long-running Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie, Fonda is also set to voice a lead role in Skydance Animation’s upcoming feature, Luck. Her most recent film, Book Club, was released in 2018, and HBO the same year aired the Emmy-nominated documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts, which depicts her life and activism. A longtime social activist and fundraiser, Fonda currently leads Fire Drill Fridays, a national movement to raise public awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis. Her latest book, What Can I Do? My Path From Climate Despair to Action, was released last fall by Penguin Press.
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