Meryl Streep's heartfelt tribute to Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit on Saturday almost played out like an audition as well as a celebration.
Listening to the three-time Oscar winner comparing herself to the secretary of state, it was hard not to imagine her playing Clinton on the silver screen, especially after her stellar performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
After admitting that she has likened herself to Clinton -- like many women her age -- Streep catalogued the similarities she found. Both figures went to public high schools before attending women's colleges. Both called home from their dorm in the first semester, fearing they weren't as clever as their peers. Both had strong mothers telling them not to be ridiculous and reminded them that they were not quitters and both graduated from Yale, but this is when Streep cites the divergence in their paths.
I was a cheerleader, Hillary was a head of student government. I was the lead in all three musicals; I'm told that Hillary should never be encouraged to sing, Streep said jokingly.
Regardless, Streep highlighted how Clinton has turned out to be the voice of her generation. I'm an actress, and she is the real deal, she said.
The actress looked back at the past three years of the Women in the World Summit and reflected on how courageous women from across the world had stepped on stage and thanked Clinton for changing their lives.
I'm alive because she came to my village, put her arm around me, and had a photograph taken together. I'm alive because she went on our local TV and talked about my work, and now they're afraid to kill me. I'm alive because she came to my country and she talked to our leaders, because I heard her speak, because I read about her. I'm here today because of that, because of those stories, Streep quoted women from across the world saying in a reflection on how Clinton has touched their lives individually.
We spend so much time thinking about Clinton because she represents us, said Streep, and while we are so concerned about her hair, jackets and lack of sleep, she is out there working, getting things done, all under the umbrella of her motto Women's rights are human's rights.
One aspect of Clinton's work for women highlighted by Streep at the summit was the way she has raised awareness of fertility rates in countries. A fertility rate tells us whether the country can feed, educate, and employ its citizens, and this had never been a priority before, Streep said. Not until Clinton brought it to the forefront of national agendas did fertility rates become a metric for foreign policy.
When officials would tend to pay more attention to counting tanks and troops and courting the tribal elders, they didn't really focus on babies or listen closely to their mothers. They didn't look that specifically at women's health, education, or employment statistics, Streep said.
Speaking from her own experience, Streep noted the challenges of being a role model, having to always be compassionate, polite, well-groomed and a representative for women to be a better part of themselves. It's an enormous burden to be placed upon any sweetly [inaudible[ rounded shoulders. But that's what we ask of her.
This is what you get when you play a world leader. [Applause and cheers.] But if you want a real world leader and you're really, really lucky, this is what you get. [Applause and cheers.] Streep said, signaling for Clinton's entrance.