​meryl streep speaks out about hollywood’s diversity problem in berlin

The solution? Make boardrooms less white and male.

by Matthew Whitehouse
15 February 2016, 10:17pm

Meryl Streep used her masterclass at the Berlin film festival on Sunday to offer a solution the problem of Hollywood diversity -- and she wants to start with the boardroom. Speaking about the D-word to an audience of 300 young actors, the three-time Oscar winner said, "I think it's moving in a very positive direction. I think you have to make noise to have room at the table, for people to move aside and let you pull your chair up to the conversation," the Guardian report. "But in our industry it will always depend on diversity in the boardroom, where the money is. So all the talk about the lower levels of endeavour -- if the decisions are only made by one group of people whose tastes will decide which kinds of films are made, then only certain kinds of films will be made."

Hollywood's diversity problem has been the subject of much scrutiny recently -- from unequal pay to a lack of non-white actors in this year's Oscar nominations (and the ones before that, and the ones before that...). For Streep, the answer lies in getting, "40 to 50 year-old white males to be interested in the stories of their wives and their mothers". "They don't feel invested in this journey. And yet younger men do and that's good," she explains.

It marks the second time the actress has attracted headlines during her time at the Berlin festival; the first occured while fielding a question on whether, as a white American, she understood Middle Eastern filmmaking. "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures and the thing that I notice is that there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture," she said, adding, "And after all, we're all from Africa originally. You know, we're all Berliners, we're all Africans really". The comment proved divisive, with some critics taking to Twitter with the mock hashtag #WereAllAfricans, while others applauded the Out of Africa star in fighting against exclusion -- something she has spoken out about throughout her career, which spans five decades.

Streep also spoke about the parallel problem of ageism in the industry. "I always thought my career was over starting at 38 years of age," she told the audience in Berlin. "In those days I had no reason to think that I would work past 40. You could work to 40 and then you start playing hags and witches... That's one reason I didn't play a witch until Into the Woods [2014] -- and I had been offered many," she notes, explaining, "It's that trough that women fall into when they're no longer fertile or fuckable, whatever that word is".


Text Matthew Whitehouse
Photography Vincent Luigi Molino

Meryl Streep
Berlin Film Festival
hollywood sexism