Meryl Streep on Berlin Film Festival Diversity: ‘We’re All Africans, Really’

“There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture,” Oscar-winner says

Meryl Streep addressed the issue of diversity at the Berlin Film Festival during a press conference on Thursday.

Streep was asked if she, as the head of the festival’s jury, felt that she understood movies that came from North African and Arab countries.

“There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we’re all from Africa originally,” Streep said, according to the Washington Post. “We’re all Berliners, we’re all Africans, really.”

Streep leads the seven-person jury, which consists of British actor Clive Owen; British film critic Nick James; French photographer Brigitte Lacombe; German actor Lars Eidinger; Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher; and Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska.

“This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that’s an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions,” Streep said. “So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game.”

Streep’s comments come as Hollywood is embroiled in questions of diversity. Many were up in arms that no actors of color were nominated for an Academy Award for the second year in a row.

Director Spike Lee announced that he would not attend what he called the “lily-white Oscars.” Lee received an honorary Oscar from the Academy in November, and had been expected to appear on stage at next month’s ceremony.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, also an African American, issued a statement on Martin Luther King Day promising changes within the group.

“I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” Isaacs said.