Actress, activist and living legend Jane Fonda was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2021 Golden Globes. In a mostly remote ceremony, the 83-year-old Fonda appeared onstage at the Globes while following Covid-19 safety protocols to accept her award.
Eschewing the usual script for Golden Globes honorary acceptance speeches, Fonda turned the attention away from herself and onto the nominees this year, and highlighted both the diversity of the films and television series recognized (or not recognized) that made her empathize with people of all backgrounds and experiences.
“Just this year, Nomadland helped me feel love for the wanderers among us,” Fonda said, “and Minari opened my eyes to the experience of immigrants dealing with the realities of life in a new land, and Judas and the Black Messiah, Small Axe, United States vs. Billie Holiday, Ma Rainey and One Night in Miami and others have deepened my empathy for what being Black has meant. Ramy helped me feel what it means to be Muslim American.”
She also shouted out I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel’s critically-acclaimed BBC series that was notably snubbed at this year’s Globes. Fonda remarked that the series “taught me to consider sexual violence in a whole new way.”
Finally, she critiqued the Globes themselves, and the lack of black members within the 87-person voting body of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
“There’s a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry,” Fonda said. “The story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out. It’s about who’s offered a seat at the table and who was kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. So that’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.”
She went on: “Doing this simply means acknowledging what’s true, being in step with the emerging diversity that’s happening because of all those who marched and fought in the past and those who picked up the baton today. After all, art has always been not just in step with history but has led the way. So let’s be leaders. OK? Thank you.”