Sandra Oh’s emotional Golden Globes speech highlights a ‘moment of change’ in Hollywood
Sandra Oh made a powerful statement about racial representation in the film industry during the opening minutes of the 2019 Golden Globe Awards.
The Killing Eve star hosted the ceremony with Andy Samberg, admitting she had some trepidation about taking on the role.
In what is often five minutes of pure celebrity roasting, Samberg and Oh went for a friendlier approach from the start, disguising compliments as “sick burns”.
But while the warm-spirited laughs took up much of her speech, Oh ended the opening of the awards ceremony “on a serious note”, paying homage to productions such as Crazy Rich Asians, BlacKkKlansman and Black Panther.
“I said yes to the fear of being on this stage tonight because I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change,” she said, eyes welling up with tears.
“Next year could be different … but right now, this moment is real. Trust me, it is real.
“Because I see you, and I see you — all these faces of change. And now, so will everyone else.”
Oh went on to win the Best Performance By An Actress in a Television Series — Drama award, thanking her parents from the stage.
Time’s Up times two
Twelve months on from the debut of the Time’s Up movement at last year’s awards, where many stars wore black in a protest against harassment in Hollywood, the spotlight this year was on addressing gender inequality in the film industry.
While accepting her award for her role If Beale Street Could Talk, Regina King called for quotas to address the issue.
“I’m going to make sure that everything I produce [includes a staff of] 50 per cent women,” King said.
“I challenge anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry in all industries, I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same.”
Another nod to the movement came from Patricia Clarkson, while accepting her award for her role in Sharp Objects.
“You demanded everything from me but sex, which is exactly how it should be in this industry,” she said, thanking director Jean-Marc Vallee.
While most of the opening jokes were benign, a dig at the whitewashing of Asian-American roles did not go unnoticed.
“Crazy Rich Asians is nominated tonight,” Oh said.
“It is the first studio film with an Asian lead since Ghost In The Shell and Aloha.”
This was in reference to the Caucasian actors, Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone, who were cast in the films as characters of Asian descent.
An “I’m sorry” was heard from the crowd, with viewers on social media picking up Stone’s voice.
Tweet from Rachael Leighton-Castro: Fave part of #goldenglobes right out the gate is Sandra’s Oh’s joke about Asian-American leads in GITS and Aloha and you can HEAR Emma Stone Yell I’m sorry in the background. I’m dying
Tweet from Joel Kim Booster: I PERSONALLY ACCEPT EMMA STONE’S OFF CAMERA SCREAMED APOLOGY.
Stone played Allison Ng, a character of Hawaiian and Asian heritage, and faced criticism for it when Aloha premiered in 2015.
“The character was not supposed to look like her background which was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese,” she told News.com.au in July 2015.
But she said the role was indicative of the problem of racial representation in the movie industry.
“I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is,” she said.
“It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.”
An accidental icon
While photographers aimed their cameras at the actors walking the red carpet, an unexpected star came to the fore in the background.
Described as the “Fiji water girl”, a woman holding a tray of bottled water found herself in a number of photos from the event — and her presence did not go unnoticed.
Tweet from Victor Ortiz: We stan a hydration advocate, you better work Fiji water girl