Awards Season is upon us and for many actors, actresses and stars of the big screen, the excitement of trying on hundreds of dazzling ballgowns and tuxedos awaits. As do those awards they’re hoping to bag, obviously.
For many however, one element of decision-making was taken out of the equation as a great number of celebrities chose to stand together and wear black to one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies of the year: The Golden Globes.
The Women in Black
The all-black dress code was a protest to help raise awareness of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, following the many revelations that rocked Hollywood and further afield over the last year.
When I first heard of the movement, I thought ‘Why?’ To me, it didn’t seem like a bold enough statement. Wearing the same colour outfit? How was that going to be a metaphorical middle-finger to the powers that be?
There was talk at first that a number of big-name actresses were going to boycott the awards ceremony altogether, but this would take away from the celebration of talent, which is what the awards are all about. So instead, they chose to show their anger and unity through the power of fashion.
And it worked.
Seeing Reese Witherspoon, Saoirse Ronan, Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep and so many other stars standing together in unity in black clothing was inspirational. It showed women sticking together and telling the world that sexual harassment will no longer be a taboo subject and that women should not be afraid to come forward with their stories. It screamed, ‘Enough is enough’ or as the movement was named, #TimeIsUp.
The time for meetings in hotel rooms, for sleazy directors and for women to feel pressured into doing something they don’t want, just to get a part that they are more than deserved of, is up.
Who’s your plus one?
A number of celebrities opted to bring along female activists as their plus one for the night, to highlight the amazing work that they do and are often not recognised for.
Emma Watson invited Marai Larasi as her companion for the night, who is the executive director of Imkaan, “the only UK-based, second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black minoritised women and girls”.
Meryl Streep was accompanied by Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which works to empower and organise domestic workers in the US, most of whom are women.
Michelle Williams graced the red carpet with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and Susan Sarandon brought along Rosa Clemente, an activist, journalist and community organiser.
Shailene Woodley invited Calina Lawrence, an advocate for Native Treaty rights and a member of the Suqamish Tribe. Emma Stone was accompanied by the legendary Billie Jean King, the American former world number one tennis player. Stone recently played BJK in the movie Battle of the Sexes, the role for which she was nominated for the best actress award.
One thing that really sticks out to me is the power of these female actresses. Their influence. They are using their status as a celebrity to showcase these great women and making the world wake up and take notice of them. From an Influencer Marketing point of view, the stars mentioned above are using their fame as a platform for these activists and letting them take all of the attention.
This makes a nice change from looking at how influencers can use their ‘influence’ to drive sales of beauty products, but instead how they can influence uneducated people in the world of women’s rights, abuse and racism. These actresses are ‘influencing’ the wider public to take notice and no longer ignore what they pretend isn’t there. For those who turn a blind eye to what goes on, your #TimeIsUp.
And the winner is…
Making Golden Globes history, Oprah Winfrey was awarded the Cecil B. De Mille award, the first African-American to do so. Previous recipients of this gong include Audrey Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand.
However, Oprah also made history with the greatest acceptance speech at the Golden Globes which stirred up talks that she should run for president in 2020. As the current president of the United States had no previous political experience, why the hell shouldn’t Oprah try her chances? Although, she may have some tough competition from Kanye West if he’s still planning on running.
Accepting the award from Reese Witherspoon, fellow #MeToo and #TimeIsUp campaigner, she gave a poignant speech. Below are some key moments from the inspirational speech:
“In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black. And I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl — a kid watching from the cheap seats, as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses.
…But we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before, as we try to navigate these complicated times. Which brings me to this: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all of the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. This year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.
So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they — like my mother — had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers; they are working in factories and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science; they’re part of the world of tech and politics and business; they’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.
And they’re someone else: Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road, coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the N.A.A.C.P., where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.
And I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth — like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented — goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’s heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery. And it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man — who chooses to listen. In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. And I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning — even during our darkest nights.
So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too,’ again. Thank you.”
Following Oprah’s speech, I hope that women don’t feel afraid to come forward with their stories. If they have been affected, I hope they don’t suffer in silence. The time has come to stand up to these people. We will no longer accept it and we will fight for justice of women all over the world. I am in full support of Oprah and the women behind these campaigns and organisations. I hope that you are too – no matter what gender you are, you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this epidemic that was previously accepted and just not talked about.
Well, now we’re going to talk about it.
Share your stories, tell your truths, don’t let them get away with it. Their #TimeIsUp.
One more thing
OPRAH FOR PRESIDENT 2020