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Recipients of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award are honored for their "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment." When actress and activist Jane Fonda received the honor at the 78th Golden Globes on Sunday, she exemplified why her acting isn’t the only asset she brings to the industry. 

Fonda, who is a dedicated advocate for women’s rights and  climate action, used her acceptance speech to uplift others and stress the importance of diverse perspectives.

The seven-time Golden Globe winner started off her speech for the lifetime achievement award by highlighting the important role storytelling plays during crises. 

“You see, stories have a way to ... they can change our hearts and our minds,” she said. “They can help us see each other in a new light. To have empathy. To recognize that, for all our diversity, we are humans first, right?”

Fonda praised the films and television shows that resonated with her this year. 

She singled out the film Minari for shining a light on the immigrant experience, and films like Judas and the Black Messiah, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and One Night in Miami for helping her understand the Black experience. 

I May Destroy You, a telvision show many were outraged to learn wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe, taught her to think about sexual violence differently.

"Stories — they really can change people,” she continued. “But there's a story we've been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry — a story about which voices we respect and elevate, and which we tune out. A story about who's offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.”

Fonda called for a larger effort to promote diversity within the entertainment industry and was met with social media praise. 

“So let's all of us — including all the groups that decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards — let's all of us make an effort to expand that tent,” she said. “So that everyone rises and everyone's story has a chance to be seen and heard.

“I mean, doing this simply means acknowledging what's true,” she added. “Being in step with the emerging diversity that's happening because of all those who marched and fought in the past and those who've picked up the baton today.”

Fonda’s speech comes on the heels of a controversy surrounding the lack of diversity and representation at the Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) behind the ceremony has been under scrutiny this award season for not having a Black member in 20 years. 

Comedian Tina Fey, who virtually co-hosted the award show with comedian Amy Poehler, also joked about the HFPA’s lack of diversity.

“Maybe you guys didn’t get the memo,” Fey said. “You guys gotta change that.”

While critics continued to point out the systemic flaws of the Golden Globes’ categories and lack of representation in nominations, the night marked several wins for people of color.

Film director Chloé Zhao won best drama for her film Nomadland and became the first woman to receive a Golden Globe for directing in 37 years and the first Asian-American woman ever to win in the category. Singer Andra Day won best actress for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and Chadwick Boseman was posthumously honored as best actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Meanwhile, actor Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for Judas and the Black Messiah.

Global Citizen Life

Demand Equity

Jane Fonda's Golden Globes Speech Was a Powerful Call for More Diversity in Storytelling

By Leah Rodriguez