Aurore Marechal/Sipa USA
UPDATE: While speaking on a panel at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this month, Meryl Streep was asked for her opinion on the representation of Arab and African culture in films. Her widely circulated response was misinterpreted as being a comment on Hollywood's diversity issue, when in fact she was discussing foreign filmmaking. The question and answer can be read in full below:
Interviewer: "There is a film that is representing Tunisia and the Arab world and African in the main competition. How do you see this part of the world, and is it easy for you to understand that culture, and are you following any Arab movies?"
Meryl: "Yes, in fact I've just seen a film called Theeb, which I loved. I saw Timbuktu recently, but I don't know very much about the Middle East, and yet I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures. The thing that I've noticed is that there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture. And, after all, we're all from Africa originally; we're all Berliners, we're all Africans, really."
With controversy still buzzing about the all-white 2016 Oscar nominations, the conversation surrounding the diversity issue in Hollywood has continued across seas at the Berlin Film Festival.
Meryl Streep—the president of the festival's primarily female, white jury—was asked about the lack of diversity among panelists during a press interview on Thursday, to which she responded: "We're all Africans, really."
According to USA Today, an Egyptian reporter asked the Oscar winner about whether she and her panel could fully understand films from North Africa and the Middle East.
While she admitted she isn't incredibly knowledgeable on that part of the world, she said, "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures," adding, "There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we're all from Africa originally. Berliners, we're all Africans really."
Streep later explained that she is entirely committed to including people "of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions" in the Berlin Film Festival.
She noted, "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. So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game."
Twentieth Century Fox/The Weinstein Company
Streep's comments have received some mixed reviews on social media, especially considering the current controversy surrounding the all-white Oscars.
So far, the lack of diversity at has sparked the resurfacing of 2015's famous #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and even resulted in some people, like Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee, boycotting the show.
The backlash has been so harash, the Academy's president, Cheryl Boone Issacs, and the Board have put immediate, historic action into place.
As of Jan. 21, lifetime voting rights were reframed and limited to only those who have been active in the film industry over the last 10 years. Three new governor seats were also added, which will be elected by the president, and committees were restructured to support that. All of these measures have been taken by The Board of Governors with a goal of doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.
"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," Isaacs said in a statement at the time. "These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."