In the interview, journalist Johanna Schneller asked Stone, who was promoting her memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, about what it was like to work with Meryl Streep. Schneller’s phrasing prompted Stone to push back on the Hollywood perception of Streep being the end-all be-all of actresses.
“I like the way you phrase that, that I finally got to work with Meryl Streep,” said Stone. “You didn’t say, ‘Meryl finally got to work with Sharon Stone.’ Or we finally got to work together. Because that’s the way her life went, she got built up to be, ‘Everyone wants to work with Meryl.’ I wonder if she likes that?”
“The way you structured the question is very much the answer to the question,” she continued, despite Schneller’s interjections. “The business was set up that we should all envy and admire Meryl because only Meryl got to be the good one. And everyone should compete against Meryl. I think Meryl is an amazingly wonderful woman and actress. But in my opinion, quite frankly, there are other actresses equally as talented as Meryl Streep. The whole Meryl Streep iconography is part of what Hollywood does to women…Viola Davis is every bit the actress Meryl Streep is. Emma Thompson. Judy Davis. Olivia Colman. Kate Winslet, for f—‘s sake. But you say Meryl and everybody falls on the floor.”
“…[W]e’re all set up to think that only Meryl is so amazing, that wne you say her name, it must have been amazing for me to work with her,” she added later. “That phrasing has been taught. We’ve been taught that everybody doesn’t get a seat at the table. Once one is chosen, nobody else can get in there.”
While some felt attacked by Stone’s comments, many fans online agreed with Stone, especially Black fans who have long been incensed by backhanded compliments toward Davis, such as her being called “the Black Meryl Streep.”
Davis herself has commented on comparisons to Meryl Streep in 2018, telling an audience at the Women in the World Salon, “People say, ‘You’re a black Meryl Streep … We love you. There is no one like you,” she explained. “OK, then if there’s no one like me, you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth. As an artist, I want to build the most complicated human being but what I get is the third girl from the left.”