Meryl Streep could have been auditioning for her next Oscar-winning role, portraying Hillary Clinton, and she did it with such panache, and love, that it is easy to imagine the two women as interchangeable, which was the theme of Streep’s tribute to Clinton. Streep confided that every woman her age has compared herself to Clinton, studied her hairstyles, and her jackets, worried whether she’s getting enough sleep, and seeing themselves in the arc of Clinton’s life, with all its trials and tribulations. “Hillary is us, and we are Hillary,” Streep exclaimed.
And while women have been sizing her up, “She’s just been working,” Streep said, acknowledging the impact Clinton has had on women’s lives around the world, from providing inspiration to even literally saving women from death and imprisonment by having her picture taken with them. “And it s not a simple job to be a role model,” Streep added, pausing for dramatic effect as someone who knows of what she speaks. “It takes equal parts of who you actually are, and who you hope to be. It’s an enormous burden.
Streep catalogued the parallel path that she and Clinton traveled, both products of public high schools who then went on to attend a women’s college. Both called home from the dorm that first semester, worried they weren’t as smart as the other girls and shouldn’t be there. “Don’t be ridiculous; you’re not a quitter,” their mothers told them. Both went on to graduate school at Yale. That’s where their paths diverged, Streep said. “I was a cheerleader; Hillary was head of student government. I was the lead in all three musicals; I’m told that Hillary should never be encouraged to sing…”
“But she is the voice of her generation. I’m an actress, and she is the real deal,” Streep said. Holding up the Oscar she won for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Streep declared, “This is what you get when you play a world leader, but if you want a real world leader, and you’re really, really lucky, this is what you get.” And with that, Streep turned to welcome Clinton on stage.