If you thought Oprah would receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards without lighting an inspirational fire in everyone watching, you’d be wrong.
The 63-year-old media mogul accepted the honour bestowed upon her by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with a humbling acceptance speech.
“In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for Best Actor at the 36th Academy Awards,” she said at the Beverly Hills awards show after a standing ovation. “She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: The winner is Sidney Poitier.”
“It is not lost on me that, at this moment, there is some little girl watching as I become the first black woman to be given the same award,” Winfrey said of accepting the same award she watched Sidney Poitier accept in 1982. “It is an honour and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them.”
The Cecil B. DeMille Award is given “to a talented individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment” — something Winfrey embodies with all of her person.
“A new day is on the horizon,” Winfrey promised, saying, we all have lived in a culture “broken by brutally powerful men.”
“I want, tonight, to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, they had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue,” she said. “They’re the women whose names we’ll never know.”
Those names include Recy Taylor, who died 10 days ago just shy of her 98th birthday, without justice.
“For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up,” she said to loud cheers. Eleven years after investigating Taylor’s case, Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver and that choice “is now in every woman saying ‘Me Too,’ and every man who chooses to listen.”
She continued, earning her second ovation: “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me Too’ again.” Watch her full speech above.
Reese Witherspoon, who introduced her “A Wrinkle In Time” co-star, called Winfrey’s hugs “the greatest thing ever.”
Speaking of their time working together on the upcoming Wrinkle in Time adaptation, Witherspoon said one of the things she learned from Oprah was to be the only board member at a huge company. “Thank you for your powerful contributions to the world of film and television. In this and everything you do, you’ve changed our lives.”
And a slew of celebrities were on board, tweeting their response to Oprah’s impassioned acceptance speech:
Winfrey most recently starred in HBO’s Emmy-nominated The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and will next play Mrs. Which in Ava DuVernay’s Wrinkle in Time adaptation in March. Winfrey was previously nominated for a Golden Globe in 1986 for her performance in “The Colour Purple” and received an Oscar nomination for the same role.