Meryl Streep Clarifies ‘We’re All Africans’ Comment

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is out to clear her name after the recent controversy over comments she made at the Berlin Film Festival. Streep wrote an article for the Huffington Post Thursday called, “Setting the Record Straight From Berlin.”

As first reported by the Associated Press, and covered by other sites, including The Root, earlier this month Streep held a press conference about the festival’s judging panel. In her post on the Huffington Post, Streep says the statements she made then were blown out of proportion and taken out of context.


“The lede was buried in the story of the Berlin festival, the largest in the world. These stories of people from China, Somalia, Mali, Sudan and Tunisia—testaments to the impact, importance and diversity of global cinema—have been smothered in the U.S. by the volume of attention given to five words of mine at an opening press conference, which is too bad,” Streep wrote.

She continued to clarify what exactly she meant by her comment, “We’re all Africans”:

Contrary to distorted reporting, no one at that press conference addressed a question to me about the racial makeup of the jury. I did not ‘defend’ the ‘all-white jury,’ nor would I, if I had been asked to do so. Inclusion—of races, genders, ethnicities and religions—is important to me, as I stated at the outset of the press conference.

In a long-winded answer to a different question asked of me by an Egyptian reporter concerning the film from Tunisia, Arab/African culture and my familiarity with Arab films specifically, I said I had seen and loved Theeb and Timbuktu, but admitted, ‘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 hopes that despite the press she got from the film festival, people will focus on the diverse winners of the festival.

“I hope the press will shower [festival winners] Yang Chao, Lav Diaz, Mohamed Ben Attia, Gianfranco Rosi and the other artists we honored with as much energetic attention as that directed at my misconstrued remarks,” the actress said. “Their work is newsworthy and deserves celebration. It reflects a diversity of place, race, viewpoint and humanity that should not be invisible in America.”

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