Michelle Williams Delivers Empowering Acceptance Speech on Women’s Rights at Golden Globes

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

"So women, 18 to 118, when it is time to vote, please do so in your own self interest. It's what men have been doing for years."

Michelle Williams took home the best performance by an actress in a limited series or television movie award at the 2020 Golden Globes on Sunday. The actress was up against Kaitlyn Dever, Joey King, Helen Mirren and Merritt Wever for the honor.

She began the speech by thanking the team behind Fosse/Verdon and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, before moving on to women's right to choose. 

"When you put this in someone's hands, you're acknowledging the choices that they make as an actor. Moment by moment, scene by scene, day by day," she began. "But you're also acknowledging the choices they make as a person. The education they pursue, the training they sought, the hours they put in."

"I'm grateful for the acknowledgement of the choices I've made and also grateful to have lived at a moment in our society where choice exists," she continued, "because as women and as girls things can happen to our bodies that are not our choice. I've tried my very best to live a life of my own making and not just a series of events that happened to me, but one that I could stand back and look at and recognize my handwriting all over it — sometimes messy and scrawling, sometimes careful and precise, but one that I have carved with my own hand."

"I wouldn't have been able to do this without employing a woman's right to choose," she added. "To choose when to have my children and with whom. When I felt supported and able to balance our lives, knowing as all mothers know that the scales must and will tilt toward our children."

Williams is reportedly expecting a child with her fiance, Thomas Kail. She referenced her daughter and the Tony-winning director onstage in her speech, shouting out "Tommy and Matilda."

The actress added that her choices may be different from those of the viewers. "But thank God, or whoever you pray to, that we live in a country founded on the principle that I am free to live by my faith and you are free to live by yours," she said. "So women, 18 to 118, when it is time to vote, please do so in your own self interest. It's what men have been doing for years."

Williams paused as the audience applauded. "It is what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them," she continued. "Don't forget we are the largest voting body in this country. Let's make it look more like us."

Following her speech, Williams opened up backstage about finding the courage to touch on such a heavy topic. "By nature I’m a shy person but I’m about to turn 40 and I realized that over a great span of time, I've changed and I've become stronger and more able and I've found my voice and I wanted to be able to because when I know other people use their voice it’s made a difference in my life," she said. "Also at this age and where I am in my life, I have so much to give and it would be negligent of me to not try at this position to hand back everything that was handed over to me."

The actress also reflected on whether pay parity for women in Hollywood has changed since she crafted her 2019 Emmys speech around the subject. "It’s hard for me to say because I’m not on the inside of everyone’s story or what is happening or changing in everyone’s life. Also, all I can say is what I know from people coming up to me and the experience that I had after giving the Emmys speech and women coming up to me and talk to me about how it affected or helped them or how it changed what they asked for from their bosses, or bosses coming up to me and saying how it changed what they gave to their female employees," she said. "It is the greatest professional thing that has ever happened to me. Felt like tonight I was lucky enough to win, I couldn’t not say something else on my mind in hope somebody would hear it."

The 2020 Golden Globe Awards took place at The Beverly Hilton. Ricky Gervais hosted the awards show, which aired on NBC.