At last month’s Democratic Nation Convention, Meryl Streep gave an impassioned speech praising Hillary Clinton’s “grit and grace” and linking her to trailblazers like Shirley Chisholm, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Hillary Clinton has taken some fire over 40 years of her fight for families and children,” the Oscar-winner told rapt delegates. “How does she do it? That’s what I want to know. Where does she get her grit and her grace? Where do any of our female firsts, our pathbreakers, where do they find that strength?”
Streep, now portraying another real-life woman with grit in Florence Foster Jenkins, said she wanted she speech to inspire, and also educate.
“I wrote it because I felt that so many people don’t know women’s history,” Streep told NewNowNext. “We know Benedict Arnold, the first traitor of the country, but we don’t know the first woman to take a bullet in the American Revolution, Deborah Sampson… who dressed in men’s clothes.”
“I thought about Hillary and how much shit she’s taken over 30 years,” she added, “some of it probably deserved.”
She then ran through some of Clinton’s early achievements—volunteering at Yale’s Child Study Center, setting up a program for disabled kids in South Carolina when she was just 25.
“People were hiding [differently-abled] kids at home. They wouldn’t educate them.”
Clinton and Streep have a history, of course: The two worked on programs like Vital Voices and both appeared at the Women in the World summit in 2012, where Streep introduced the future presidential nominee with another stirring speech.
The actress says she’s met many activists over the years who told her Clinton saved their lives.
“She had a complete shadow diplomacy going on alongside being Secretary of State,” Streep explains. “She would… go to countries like Guatemala and she’d make a date with the president. But first she’d meet with women’s groups, with women’s activists that were really threatened.”
“There was one Guatemalan member of Congress, [Anabella De Leon], who had nine bodyguards. She was an anti-corruption person [and] so many people wanted to kill her. Hillary immediately went there, met with her, and took a picture with her arm around her. Then she made a date with the president.”
That photo op, says Streep, helped keep De Leon alive.
“She said it made [her] too important to kill. Nobody knows this shit because she’s such a Methodist. She hides her light under a bushel. ’Don’t show your good deeds. Don’t defend yourself.'”
Good thing she’s got people like Meryl friggin’ Streep to do it for her.