Hollywood starlet Meryl Streep caused a stir while at the Berlin International Film Festival, "dismissing questions about the all-white panel by telling reporters that 'We’re all Africans, really.'"
Streep, who heads a festival film jury for the first time, said she was committed to equality and inclusion “of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions.” The seven-member jury will choose the winners of the Golden Bear and various Silver Bear awards at the first of the year’s major European movie festivals.
USA Today reports that Streep's jury in Berlin was all white:
According to the AP, when an Egyptian reporter asked whether she could understand films from North Africa and the Middle East, Streep said that while she didn't know much about that part of the world, "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures."
"There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we're all from Africa originally," she said. "Berliners, we're all Africans really."
She continued, "This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that's an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions. So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game."
Streep's remarks follow the Hollywood controversy around the ethnicity of Academy Award nominees - some big stars complained that the nominations were too "white." Spike Lee along with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith said they will boycott the awards event. As a result the Academy has promised to diversify its membership.