Why Michelle Williams and Kate McKinnon’s Golden Globes Speeches Stood Out (Column)

There were several memorable speeches Sunday night from the Golden Globes podium on vital subjects ranging from the horrific fires in Australia to getting out the vote in 2020. Two of the addresses that stood out most for me were the personal words spoken so eloquently by Kate McKinnon and Michelle Williams. Despite their celebrity, both women are famously private people, making their candor and impassioned speeches that much more impactful.

McKinnon has been open about being a lesbian in interviews and TV bits, but in presenting the Carol Burnett Award to Ellen DeGeneres, she credited the comedian’s boldness in coming out as having given her “a sense of self” when it came to accepting her own sexuality. She recalled in 1997, at the height of DeGeneres’ sitcom, lifting weights in front of the mirror in her mother’s basement and asking herself if she was gay. “And I was, and I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself,” she acknowledged, joking that “it’s sort of like doing 23andMe and discovering you have alien DNA.”

Williams, in accepting the award for best actress in a limited series for her role as Broadway icon Gwen Verdon in FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” personalized the importance of abortion rights. Visibly pregnant, Williams talked about living a life of her own making.

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“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose. To choose when to have my children and with whom.” At a time when abortion rights in this country are under siege, she urged women to vote in the upcoming presidential election. “When it is time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years and why the world looks so much like them.”

I’m so glad Globe winners like McKinnon and Williams ignored Ricky Gervais’ ill-guided plea to avoid getting political when accepting awards. As Jane Fonda recently said when asked if her climate-change protest arrests were a publicity stunt: “If you’re a celebrity, you have a responsibility to use that celebrity” to bring attention to crucial issues. Amen.

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