By: Becky Root
Michelle William’s speech, accepting her award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series for “Fosse/Verdon”, remains a standout from Sunday’s award show. Stars accepting their awards delivered impassioned speeches that referenced concerns such as climate change and fires in Australia, but Williams directly connected her win with a woman’s right to control her body.
“When you put this in someone’s hands,” Williams stated referring to her new Golden Globe, “You’re acknowledging the choices they make as an actor.” She connected those artistic choices that lead to a winning performance to personal choices that lead to lives changed. Though Williams never said the word “abortion” she continued, “I’m grateful for the acknowledgment of the choices I’ve made and I’m also grateful to have lived in a moment in our society where choice exists, because as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that are not our choice.”
During her speech, comedian Tiffany Haddish who presented the award cheered her on from stage. At the end actress Busy Philipps (William’s best friend) stood up to cheer on camera, exclaiming, “Yes!” Both Haddish and Philipps have publicly discussed their support for women’s right to control their own body. Williams has a 14-year old daughter with the late Heath Ledger and is currently expecting her second child with “Hamilton” director, Thomas Kail. The couple met while working on “Fosse/Verdon,” where Williams played legendary choreographer and dancer, Gwen Verdon, and Kail wrote and directed some episodes.
The 2020 U.S. elections will be exactly 100 years after American women earned the right to vote. Looking toward those elections, Williams closed her speech asking “women 18 to 118, when it is time to vote please do so in your self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them, but don’t forget we are the largest voting body in this country. Let’s make it look more like us.”
Backstage after winning her Golden Globe, Williams admitted, “I have so much to give and it would be negligent for me to not try, from this position, to hand back everything that was handed over to me.” Williams says that her Emmy acceptance speech last fall for “Fosse/Verdon” was so well received that people approached her to tell them how they were affected by her message of equal pay for women. She felt moved to overcome her self-proclaimed shyness to use her portion of the spotlight to speak up for causes that matter to her personally.
A rebuttal online to William’s public stance, was posted three days later to Instagram by former America’s Next Top Model contestant and mother of five, Leah Darrow. While waiting in the hospital to deliver her fifth baby, she proclaimed in her video, “I’m getting ready to deliver a baby that will not keep me from my professional growth, but will make me better because of it. That is my acceptance speech of this new little baby that I’m going to be having soon.” Darrow claims she felt moved to represent her experience in response to Williams, “because women deserve a better narrative than what the culture gives us.”
Beyond the imminent downtime to be at home with her baby on the way and marrying her fiancé, Williams has several projects in the works. One project is a staring role in the Amazon produced feature “This is Jane,” centered on abortion providers before the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the U.S.