Jane Fonda Calls on Hollywood to Be "Leaders" of Diversity at the 2021 Golden Globes

At the 2021 Golden Globes, Jane Fonda was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award. See all the details on her lifetime achievement award speech.

By Alyssa Ray Mar 01, 2021 3:55 AMTags

Using her platform for good.

On Sunday, Feb. 28, Jane Fonda was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2021 Golden Globes. In typical Fonda fashion, the famed actress and activist used her time in the spotlight at the award show to highlight the importance of representation and diversity in the industry. 

"Thank you all the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I'm so moved to receive this honor," the 9 to 5 star started off. "We are a community of story tellers, aren't we and in turbulent, crisis-torn times like these, storytelling has always been essential. You see, stories have a way to, they can change our hearts and our minds. They can help us see each other in a new light. To have empathy, to recognize that for all of our diversity, we are humans first, right?"

She continued, "You know, I have seen a lot of diversity in my long life and, at times, I have been challenged to understand some of the people I've met. But, inevitably, if my heart is open and I look beneath the surface I feel kinship. That's why all of the great conduits of perception...all of them spoke to us in stories and poetry and metaphor, because the nonlinear, noncerebral forms that are art speak on a different frequency and they generate a new energy that can jolt us open and penetrate our defenses so, that we can see see and hear what we may have been afraid of seeing and hearing."

photos
Jane Fonda Through the Years

Continuing on this point, Fonda highlighted the past year's stories that have expanded her perception. She praised Nomadland for helping her "feel love to the wanderers among us," she applauded Minari for opening "my eyes to the experience of immigrants" and she celebrated both Judas and the Black Messiah and One Night in Miami for deepening her "empathy for what being Black has meant."

Most notably, Fonda shined a light on, the Golden Globes snubbed, I May Destroy You, which had her considering "sexual violence in a whole new way."

"Stories, they really can change people but, there's a story we've been afraid to see and hear about ourselves and this industry," she stated. "The story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out. A story of who is offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the room where decisions are made. 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, so that everyone rises and everyone's story has a chance to be seen and heard."

Before concluding her speech, Fonda encouraged those watching to be "in step with the emerging diversity" and commended "all those who marched and fought in the past and those who have picked up the baton today." She concluded, "Art has always been, not just in step with history, but has led the way. So let's be leaders."

Christopher Polk/NBC

Fonda's wise words came as the HFPA faced criticism for lack of Black representation within the organization. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has since promised to build a "more inclusive future." 

For those unfamiliar with the HFPA, the organization is made up of 87 journalist members, none of whom are Black. This was highlighted in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. Thus, we can't say we're surprised that Fonda made a call for representation during Sunday's award show.

Fonda, who has won seven previous Golden Globes and nabbed 15 nominations, earned this lifetime achievement award following an impressive TV and film career that's spanned multiple decades. In fact, in addition to her multiple Golden Globe awards, Fonda can boast two Academy Awards, four People's Choice Awards and an Emmy award.

photos
Golden Globes 2021: See Every Star

Not only has Fonda had several noteworthy on-screen moments, she's also used her platform for good. The 83-year-old actress has been an advocate for women's rights, indigenous peoples' rights, the environment and more. HFPA President Ali Sar said, in a statement prior to the award show, that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took "great pride in bestowing the 2021 Cecil B. de Mille Award to Jane Fonda."

He continued, "For more than five decades, Jane's breadth of work has been anchored in her unrelenting activism, using her platform to address some of the most important social issues of our time. Her undeniable talent has gained her the highest level of recognition, and while her professional life has taken many turns, her unwavering commitment to evoking change has remained. We are honored to celebrate her achievements at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards."

Nathan Congleton/NBC

Per the HFPA, the Cecil B. de Mille Award—which is named for the legendary filmmaker—is present to an individual who has made "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment."

The Grace & Frankie actress joins the likes of Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Audrey Hepburn, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Sophia Loren, Sidney Poitier, Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams and many more who've been presented the award.

Congratulations and bravo!

photos
Jane Fonda's Best Looks

For more Golden Globes coverage, click here.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family).

Relive all the winners and biggest show moments from the 2021 Golden Globes here!