A Sea of Black at the 75th Annual Golden Globes Swells to a Wave of Female Empowerment
"I am wearing black to thank and honor all the brave whistleblowers who came forward and shared their stories, and to stand in solidarity with my sisters all over the globe.” - Debra Messing, actress, Will & Grace
Never has a sea of blackness appeared so inviting.
The first show of the 2018 Hollywood awards season focused on fierceness, not fashion, as celebrity A-Listers joined forced with women across industries and income levels to proclaim that “time’s up.” Under the umbrella of hashtags “Why We Wear Black” and “Time’s Up,” actors and activists walked the red carpet of the 75th Annual Golden Globes in a show of black-tuxedo-and-gown solidarity.
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After weeks of planning, nominees and industry players used the opportunity to put the focus on the Time’s Up initiative, educating viewers about a newly-established legal defense fund designed to assist blue collar, domestic, and low-income victims of sexual harassment and workplace abuse. Garnering more attention than a Harry Winston diamond or a barrage of “who-are-you-wearing” questions ever could, red-carpet attendees flocked to microphones and photo opportunities to introduce their social activist companions and share stories about equality and parity in the workplace.
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“We’re already at 15 million,” exclaimed Debra Messing celebrating the current amount of funds raised as she made her way to the venue in support of the entire cast and crew of the revamped Will & Grace sitcom, nominated for Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy. Messing used her arrival time to explain why she chose to wear black to the event. “I am wearing black to thank and honor all the brave whistleblowers who came forward and shared their stories, and to stand in solidarity with my sisters all over the globe.” Regarding the Time’s Up initiative, she noted that one of the goals is to create a membership that is all-inclusive. “We want 50% women, 50% men, and of the women’s membership, 30% should be women of color.”
Debra Messing of Will & Grace talks gender parity at the 75th annual Golden Globes.
Meryl Streep, nominated (yet again) this year for her portrayal of Katharine Graham in The Post—a film that focuses on the real-life first female editor and publisher’s agonizing decisions leading to the publication of the Pentagon Papers that highlighted the US involvement in the Vietnam war—stepped out with Ai-jen Poo, director of The National Domestic Workers Alliance, which “organizes domestic workers in the United States for respect, recognition, and labor standards.” Streep noted that “people are aware that a power imbalance leads to abuse,” to which Poo added, “I hope people see the momentum, the unity and that we all deserve to work in places that are safe.”
Actress Meryl Streep steps out out with Ai-jen Poo, an activist for the fair treatment of domestic workers.
Viewers would be hard pressed to find anyone not visibly in support of the Time’s Up movement. Emma Stone, nominated for her role as Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes, made it visibly clear that she looks up to King whom she says for years has been an “activist for social change.” King added that “every generation has to fight for freedom; it’s our job to support and mentor. We’re wearing black to protect those who have been silenced by harassment.” And Michelle Williams, who brought with her Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, and a nominee for Best Actress for All the Money in the World, added that “I thought I would have to raise my daughter to teach her how to protect herself, but because of Tarana, we are living in a different world.” Host Seth Myers made sure to include his support for equality, noting in his speech that “it’s clear the people in this room worked hard, but what’s clear now is that the women worked harder.”
#MeToo founder and activist Tarana Burke speaks on the Golden Globes red carpet in solidarity with actress Michelle Williams (right), nominated as Best Actress for All the Money in the World.
And with all the praises and kumbayas that filled the room, some were quick to highlight current parity imbalances. While she was singing the praises of Time’s Up to E! News' Giuliana Rancic, Messing didn’t hold back on chastising the E! network over the salary disparity that caused former host Catt Sadler to leave the entertainment news outlet just last month.
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And as presenter of the award for Best Director in a Motion Picture, Natalie Portman made sure to introduce the category of “the all-male nominees.” Many noticed that notably absent from the Best Director nominees was Greta Gerwig, director of Lady Bird, which was nominated for Best Screenplay and won a Golden Globe for for Best Actress for it's star Saoirse Ronan.
Barbara Streisand echoed the sentiment during her presentation of the Best Picture award, noting that she is the only woman to have received the award for Best Director since 1984. “That’s 34 years ago! Folks, time’s up!” She added that she was “very proud to stand in a room where people speak out against harassment and gender inequality.” Some on viewers were also quick to call out the lack of audible support from men at the ceremony. “Wearing a black tuxedo isn’t enough,” tweeted NARAL, an organization dedicated to protecting reproductive freedom. “We need men to SPEAK UP and stand beside us to fight to end sexual assault & rape culture.”
Here’s what we know for sure: only one person can truly bring the world together in discussions of gender, racial, and economic equality. Oprah Winfrey, who’s name as Reese Witherspoon noted, “is a verb, adjective, and a feeling,” all at the same time, brought viewers to tears with her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille award.
Her rousing speech was filled with words of encouragement and empowerment. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up,” said Winfrey, an edict that elicited the second of several standing ovations. Some viewers have begun to speculate that Winfrey’s speech is a precursor to a run for office of President of the United States. “So I want all the girls watching here, 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, are 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.”