Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham and the DNC celebrity factor on a night Bill Clinton is the biggest star
By Amy Kaufman
Jul 26, 2016 | 10:45 PM
Meryl Streep speaks at the Democratic National Convention. More coverage at latimes.com/trailguide
On a night when Bill Clinton was the true star of the Democratic National Convention — giving a 40-minute speech about his wife's merits — celebrities almost seemed unnecessary.
And yet Hollywood turned out in force on Tuesday for the second day of the DNC, which was emceed by actress Elizabeth Banks. After mocking Donald Trump's entrance at the Republican National Convention — walking out amid fog and giving herself a slow clap — Banks proceeded to introduce "Scandal" star Tony Goldwyn, "Rise Up" crooner Andra Day, Alicia Keys and a slew of actresses: Meryl Streep, Debra Messing, Erika Alexander, America Ferrera and Lena Dunham.
The latter two young stars walked out together, making light of the fact that many viewers think celebrities shouldn't comment on politics.
"We know what you're all thinking: Why should you care what some television celebrity has to say about politics?" said Dunham, the creator of HBO's "Girls."
"And we feel the same way," responded Ferrera, who is on NBC's "Superstore." "But he is the Republican nominee, so we have to talk about it."
The dig, of course, was directed at Donald Trump, who for years hosted NBC's reality show "The Apprentice." And Ferrera has been vocal about the fact that she is bothered by the idea she shouldn't enter the political fray because she's an actress. On her Instagram account over the weekend, the 32-year-old implored the public: "Please stop telling me to shut up because I'm an actor. I am an American, and like everyone else, there's a lot at stake for me in this election. I will use my platform and encourage you to use yours."
At the DNC, the actresses — who stumped together for Hillary Clinton at an event in Los Angeles this spring — went after Trump aggressively, drawing upon personal anecdotes. Ferrera spoke about how she was the child of Honduran immigrants, educated in a public school where she often relied on free meals "to get through the school day."
The 30-year-old Dunham, meanwhile, referred to herself as a "pro-choice feminist sexual assault survivor with a chronic reproductive illness" — she suffers from endometriosis — saying she feared Trump's rhetoric would take women "back to a time when we were meant to be beautiful and silent." She also poked fun at her own looks, noting that Trump would probably not find her attractive: "According to Donald Trump, my body is probably, like, a 2."
Speaking of looks, even though Meryl Streep delivered a passionate endorsement for Clinton at the end of the evening, she was still subject to snarking from the online Fashion Police. The 67-year-old walked onto the stage in an American flag dress designed by Catherine Malandrino that — OMG! — she's actually worn before.
The dress didn't win rave reviews, and yet shortly after her speech it was apparently sold out online:
Ultimately, however, Streep's words seemed to stick with the audience more than her fashion choice. She spoke of the "grit" of Deborah Sampson, a woman who served in George Washington's continental army disguised as a man so that she could fight for her country.
"What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit, and it takes grace," said the Oscar winner. "Hillary Clinton has taken some fire over 40 years of her fight for families and children. How does she do it? That's what I want to know. Where does she get her grit and grace?"
Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Fergie and Chloe Grace Moretz are still slated to take the stage later this week, so check back for more DNC updates.