Meryl Streep Writes Essay Defending Her "We're All Africans" Comment

She didn't say what you think she said.

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Meryl Streep was given some serious internet side-eye and sparked a dozen think pieces when, as it was reported, she answered a question about the all-white Berlin Film Festival jury by noting that (opens in new tab): "We're all Africans, really." 

But the actress says that she was misquoted and the piece that spawned the frenzy was misreported–and that she's *not* apologizing for bad journalism. In an essay for the Huffington Post (opens in new tab), Streep articulated her desire to set the record straight.

"Contrary to distorted reporting, no one at that press conference addressed a question to me about the racial makeup of the jury," she wrote. "I did not 'defend' the 'all-white jury,' nor would I, if I had been asked to do so. Inclusion—of races, genders, ethnicities and religions—is important to me, as I stated at the outset of the press conference."

"In a longwinded answer to a different question asked of me by an Egyptian reporter concerning the film from Tunisia, Arab/African culture, and my familiarity with Arab films specifically, I said I had seen and loved Theeb, and Timbuktu, but admitted 'I don't know very much about, honestly, the Middle East...and yet I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures,'" she continued. "'And the thing I notice is that we're all—I mean there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all, we're all from Africa originally, you know? We're all Berliners, we're all Africans, really.'"

And there you have it, the real truth behind the statement that sparked much outrage. Here's hoping the explanation travels as far as the misquote did.

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Samantha Leal
Senior Editor

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.