Race comment taken out of context, says Streep

Actress Meryl Streep's "We're all Africans" remark was in response to a reporter's question on whether she is familiar with cinema from Africa and the Middle East.
Actress Meryl Streep's "We're all Africans" remark was in response to a reporter's question on whether she is familiar with cinema from Africa and the Middle East. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LOS ANGELES • Actress Meryl Streep on Thursday said her "We're all Africans" comment was taken out of context, writing in the Huffington Post about the controversy she sparked amid Hollywood's ongoing diversity debate.

Streep, who earlier this month headed her first international film jury at the Berlin Film Festival, said her comments to an Egyptian reporter during a press conference about whether she was familiar with cinema from Africa and the Middle East were "distorted".

"I was not minimising difference, but emphasising the invisible connection empathy enables, a thing so central to the fact of being human and what art can do: convey another person's experience," she wrote.

The furore over her comments came amid an uproar in Hollywood over this year's all-white Oscar acting nominees for a second consecutive year, sparking the #OscarsSoWhite discussion.

The actress also added in the piece titled Setting The Record Straight From Berlin that she was not asked at the press conference about the all-white jury at this year's festival.

"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," she said.

Her comments made headlines as some critics expressed disappointment. Others said her remarks were taken out of context.

She said she hoped the attention drawn by her "misconstrued remarks" would be directed towards celebrating this year's Berlin film festival award winners, which included Gianfranco Rosi's Fire At Sea, about African immigrants.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2016, with the headline 'Race comment taken out of context, says Streep'. Print Edition | Subscribe