That was Meryl Streep‘s reaction after learning she had earned her 30th Golden Globe Award nomination. Behind closed doors, that’s how we assume most of this year’s nominees felt when they learned they had been granted a Golden Globe nod, many for the first time in their brief or lengthy careers.
Meanwhile, as the names streamed in, there was cause for celebration on a broader front. After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2016, it seems Hollywood is steadily understanding how to celebrate and uplift stars that do not fit into one particular shell.
The diversity of the upcoming ceremony wasn’t limited to race alone. The members of this year’s nominee pool range in age, experience and shape, proving that an award winner is not one size fits all.
Take, for example, the other women in Streep’s category. The 67-year-old nominee for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy is up against fellow legend, 58-year-old Annette Bening, and first-time nominees, 27-year-old Lily Collins and 19-year-old Hailee Steinfeld.
While there are no women of color in that category, they are the majority in the Best Supporting Performance by an Actress category with nods to Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Naomie Harris as well as Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman. In comparison, the category in 2016 included winner Kate Winslet and nominees Jane Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Helen Mirren and Alicia Vikander.
“At 10:00 every Thursday night…you come into my world and you sit with me, my size, my hue, my age, and you sit and you experience,” Davis recently said during her acceptance speech for the Critic’s Choice #SeeHer Award. “And I think that’s the only power I have as an artist.”
That power is one that many stars—and the directors, producers and screenwriters behind their roles—seem to have embraced significantly this year.
For Chrissy Metz, her authentic ability to portray a woman battling her weight not only turned her into a television heroine, but also the first woman outside the typical Hollywood sample size range to earn a nomination in the Best Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film category in decades. As the series’ creator Dan Fogelman put it, Metz is as easy to root for as she is to write for—perhaps because she embodies a human experience understood by many, yet often glossed over.
Diversity doesn’t only come in skin tone or waist measurement. In the age of the ongoing television renaissance, actors are not limited to one particular kind of medium to tell a story—there’s network television, cable television and online television. While it took a bit to adapt to the idea of TV on the Internet, it has evolved to not only exist, but excel and the proof is in several of this year’s honorees who got their start on the World Wide Web.
Both Rachel Bloom and Issa Rae rose to fame initially on YouTube, where they created and starred in their own content. Now, they’re both Golden Globe nominees with successful series shaped by distinct—and at times underrepresented—voices.
“I think black people aren’t really used to seeing themselves be the norm, and the default and have these regular human emotions that white people are afforded on every single type of show,” Rae told E! News. “So, to just to have relationships and friendships exist in a normalized way is something that hasn’t been done in like 20 years.”
Similarly, Riz Ahmed, who portrayed a Pakistani-American inmate on HBO’s The Night Of, not only garnered his first Golden Globe nomination but also became the first Pakistani-American actor to earn the nod in recent history. “It was an honour to portray Nas, and through him the untold stories of so many,” the actor said in a statement.
As the star pinpointed, diversity in Hollywood can only go as far as the material that gets to the top of the pile. “I think we have to choose from a pool that’s representative of the country we live in. I think studios need to step up and be aware of the need to make films, not just having actors that represent the population, but writers, directors and crew members that do,” director J.J. Abrams told E! News in February.
“I think it’s good business,” he continued. “I think the movies will get better, the stories will get stronger and audiences will respond bigger and that’s good for the bottom line.”