Meryl Streep Explains ‘We’re All Africans’ Comment: ‘I Was Not Minimizing Difference’

Streep came under fire when she said, “we’re all Africans, really” at the Berlin Film Festival

Last Updated: February 25, 2016 @ 9:22 AM

Meryl Streep set the record straight regarding her remark that “we’re all Africans” at the Berlin Film Festival two weeks ago, stating that she never intended to minimize differences, “contrary to distorted reporting.”

“I was not minimizing difference, but emphasizing 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 in an op-ed for the Huffington Post. “To be in Berlin is to see proof that walls don’t work.”

At the Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 11, 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. “We’re all Berliners, we’re all Africans, really.”

Streep blasted “distorted reporting,” stating that her statement was not in response to a question regarding an “all-white jury,” as multiple headlines indicated.

“Contrary to distorted reporting, no one at that press conference addressed a question to me about the racial makeup of the jury,” she said. “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.”

Streep further explained the series of events that transpired at the press conference, claiming that the original question concerned her familiarity with Arab films specifically. It was asked by an Egyptian reporter regarding a film from Tunisia.

She wrote: “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.'”

She concluded by stating that she does “defend all the choices the jury made.”

See her full op-ed here.