In the wake of #OscarSoWhite Round 2 and Charlotte Rampling’s regrettable comments, watching an older, white actor field a question about diversity has become a high-suspense activity. Even Meryl Streep is getting mixed reviews for a statement she gave at a Berlin International Film Festival press conference.
Streep, who is heading the all-white and predominantly female festival jury, answered a question from an Egyptian journalist about whether the panel could understand films from North Africa. According to The Associated Press, the actress admitted that while she didn’t know much about the region, she’s played characters from all over the world.
“There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we’re all from Africa originally,” she said. “Berliners, we’re all Africans really.”
Social media immediately pounced on Streep’s choice of words, though she may have been trying to evoke John F. Kennedy’s famous line from his 1963 speech in Berlin (“Ich bin ein Berliner!”)
Streep acknowledged the lack of racial diversity on her jury, but she celebrated the gender makeup of the same group.
“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 that the Berlinale is ahead of the game.”