In the first hour of Sunday’s Golden Globes telecast, many Hollywood luminaries addressed sexual harassment, gender inequality, and the #MeToo movement. But nobody did it like Laura Dern.
Dern began the acceptance speech for her supporting actress win by thanking her co-stars on HBO’s Big Little Lies, the show’s producers, and creator David E. Kelley — who, she said, had given her the role of Renata Klein, “a terrified mother, terrified because her little girl was being abused and bullied and she was too afraid to speak up.” Then came the pivot:
“Many of us were taught not to tattle. It was a culture of silencing and that was normalized. I urge all of us to not only support survivors and bystanders who are brave enough to tell their truth, but to promote restorative justice.”
It became clear that Dern wasn’t just going to reference the recent moment of reckoning in Hollywood and across other industries — she was going to offer specific recommendations. More than anyone who took the stage before her, she was going to take the opportunity she was given to call her industry to account.
After calling for the promotion of restorative justice — an approach that seeks to repair the harm done to survivors and the surrounding community — she asked that her audience of filmmakers “protect and employ” survivors who have broken their silence. And, she added, “May we teach our children that speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new north star.”
While many women and men at the Globes had talked about the importance of women’s stories, Dern was one of the first to make a pointed call for Hollywood to support the people who have changed American culture in the past few months by speaking publicly about harassment, assault, and abuse. And she called not just for moral support but for material support, in the form of employment.
As the women of Time’s Up have made clear, Hollywood as an industry has a lot of work to do, both in cleaning its own house and in offering support to survivors around the country. Others on Sunday night had gestured toward the work ahead, but Dern went further. She gave Hollywood’s power players a to-do list, a way to back up their words with money and opportunities and, maybe, create real change.