Meryl Streep Once ‘Refused’ an Emmy Award: ‘It’s Absurd’

Meryl Streep sits at the top of the acting game in the Hollywood movie engine, but she’s no stranger to the Emmy Awards for television either. She currently has three wins and two nominations under her belt compared to her double-digit nominations at the Oscars. However, there was a part of Streep’s career where she refused to accept an Emmy because she thought that the whole idea of such ceremonies was “absurd” which contrasts quite drastically from her modern title as one of the most awarded actors.

Meryl Streep starred in ‘Holocaust’ mini-series

Emmy Award winner Meryl Streep wearing a baseball cap and a coat with a smile on her face
Meryl Streep | Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

Streep once starred in a television show called Holocaust, which was a four-part miniseries that aired in 1978. The story follows two fictional German families from Berlin prior to, and during World War II. One of the families is Christian and they become Nazis out of economic need. Meanwhile, the other is a Jewish family whose members become their victims.

Holocaust earned Streep both her first Emmy Award nomination and win for playing a Christian woman named Inga Helms Weiss. The show received some harsh criticisms at the time for its social politics, although most of the chatter remained positive regarding the show’s technical qualities. Nevertheless, it created widespread public debate surrounding its subject matter around the world.

Meryl Streep ‘refused’ to accept an Emmy Award over the principle of it

Author Erin Carlson’s Queen Meryl explored the journey through the actor’s career. Streep’s Emmy Award win for Holocaust ultimately played a part in the actor’s rising career. Carlson noted that the series was extremely popular, which ultimately led to her win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. However, Streep “refused” to accept the Emmy Award on principle.

“I don’t think performances should be taken out of context and put up against each other for awards,” Streep explained.

Streep wasn’t afraid to admit that she only accepted the Emmy Award-winning role for money because she needed the cash. However, she could have never guessed how that would ultimately impact the direction her career would take moving forward.

The actor found early public interactions ‘uncomfortable’

Carlson took readers through Streep’s continued rise to stardom that continued to ascend after her Emmy Award win that she rejected. However, this ultimately resulted in some seriously “uncomfortable” situations that she wished never happened.

Streep was riding her bike in Chelsea, Manhattan when four men in a Volkswagen made her feel awful. They rolled down their windows and shouted at her: “Hey, Holocaust! Hey, Holocaust!”

“It’s absurd,” Streep said. “That that episode in history can be reduced to people screaming out of car windows at an actress.”

Nevertheless, Streep would move forward with her career and happily accept future award wins after the Emmy Awards. She continued to ascend thanks to her years of extraordinary experience in both television and film.

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