The recognition, which in recent years has been granted to Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Jeff Bridges, is bestowed upon a member of the entertainment industry by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”.
83-year-old Fonda, who has had a long and successful career, used her time on stage as she accepted the honour to address the need for change within the industry.
The two-time Oscar winner also spoke passionately about the importance of storytelling and, furthermore, the importance of allowing diverse voices to share their experiences.
Read the full transcript of Jane Fonda’s rousing speech at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, below.
“Thank you to all the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I’m so moved to receive this honour. Thank you.
“You know, we are a community of storytellers, aren’t we? And in turbulent, crisis-torn times like these, storytelling has always been essential. You see, stories have a way that — they can change our hearts and our minds; they can help us see each other in a new light, have empathy to recognise that for all our diversity, we are humans, first, right? I’ve seen a lot of diversity in my long life and at times, I’ve 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 — Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, Lao-Tzu, all of them spoke to us in stories and poetry and metaphor. Because the nonlinear, non-cerebral forms that are art, speak on a different frequency. They generate a new energy that can jolt us open and penetrate our defences so that we can see and hear what we may have been afraid of seeing and hearing
“Just this year, Nomadland helped me feel love for the wanderers among us and Minari opened my eyes to the experience of immigrants dealing with the realities of life in a new land, and Judas and the Black Messiah, Small Axe, United States vs Billie Holiday, Ma Rainey and One Night in Miami and others have deepened my empathy for what being Black has meant. Ramy helped me feel what it means to be Muslim American.
“I May Destroy You has taught me to consider sexual violence in a whole new way. The documentary All In reminds us how fragile our democracy is and inspires us to fight to preserve it and A Life on Our Planet shows us how fragile our small blue planet is and inspires us to save it, and ourselves.
“Stories. They really can change people.
“But there’s a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry. The story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out. It’s about who’s offered a seat at the table and who was kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. So that’s all of us, including all the groups who 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.
“I mean, doing this simply means acknowledging what’s true, being in step with the emerging diversity that’s happening because of all those who marched and fought in the past and those who picked up the baton today. After all, art has always been not just in step with history but has led the way. So let’s be leaders. OK? Thank you. Thank you so much.”