Amal Clooney received the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for her legal work defending journalists during a virtual ceremony for the 2020 CPJ International Press Freedom Awards on Nov. 19.
The human rights lawyer was presented with the award from none other than Meryl Streep. During Amal's video acceptance speech, the 42-year-old used the opportunity to joke about the connection she shares with Meryl in relation to the lawyer's husband, George Clooney.
Amal spoke about how she regretted not being able to see everyone at the awards in New York like typical because of COVID-19.
"I regret missing the opportunity to share a stage with the brilliant Meryl Streep," she stated.
"Meryl, thank you for your kind words while introducing me. You are an inspiration as a woman, as an artist, as a press freedom advocate," Amal praised the Oscar-winning actress. "I know I can't ever hope to win the number of awards that you've won, but it does occur to me that we have something special in common, which is that we've both been married to my husband."
She hilariously continued, "And honestly, the fact that you did it as Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic Fox just makes that so much less awkward."
Indeed George and Meryl played Mr. and Mrs. Fox, respectively, in the 2009 Wes Anderson animated comedy Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name.
In her seven-and-a-half minute speech, Amal went on to thank the Committee to Protect Journalists for the honour of the award, and for "shining a light on the importance of press freedom at a time when many of our fundamental freedoms have been under threat."
The lawyer referenced the popular Martin Luther King Jr. quote in her passionate speech about how "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." She talked about the efforts that have been made toward equality, but how we still have a ways to go. She also highlighted how our freedoms can so easily be taken away from us and thanked those who helped bend the arc to give us the freedoms we have.
The mom of two highlighted her work including representing Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who had been imprisoned because of her investigative reporting, and Wa Lone and Kyaw She Oo, two journalists that were arrested while investigating a massacre in a Rohingya village in Myanmar. Amal was able to secure release for her clients, but they still live under restrictions.
"It is true that hope springs eternal and this is a time for optimism," Amal said in closing. "But, optimism should not mean complacency...What we see happening in the world should remind us that rights should not only be secured, but jealously guarded. Democracy must constantly be defended and journalists vigilantly protected."
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