Barbra Streisand got a standing ovation with her life achievement award speech at the SAGs

While Pedro Pascal had a show-stealing acceptance speech at the SAG Awards over the weekend, it was Barbra Streisand’s speech that was the emotional center of the show. After Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper introduced her (more on that later), Barbra took to the stage to accept the Life Achievement Award. Many in the audience were in tears during Barbra’s speech (the camera cut to Anne Hathaway quite a bit), and by the end the room was on their feet to toast the acting, singing, directing, producing legend:

Barbra Streisand brought her fellow stars to tears Saturday evening when she accepted the Screen Actors Guild’s highest honor, the SAG Life Achievement Award, at the 30th SAG Awards.

After glowing introductions from Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper that drew a standing ovation, Streisand, 81, delivered a heartfelt speech that reached back to her days as a teenage girl watching black-and-white films at the theater and a young actress pursuing her dreams in Hollywood. “This is such a wonderful award to get because you know in advance that you’re going to get it and you don’t have to sit there and squirm,” she joked, adding that she was proud to be a SAG-AFTRA member for more than 60 years.

“I didn’t like reality,” Streishand said. “I wanted to be in the movies even though I knew I didn’t look like the other women on the screen. My mother said you better learn to type, but I didn’t listen and somehow, someway — thank you, God — it all came true.”

Anne Hathaway, Hannah Waddingham, and Quinta Brunson were among the stars in attendance who had visibly emotional reactions to Streisand’s speech.

The 59th recipient of the honor, Streisand received the award for her expansive career accomplishments and humanitarian efforts. She’s starred in such classics as The Way We Were, Funny Girl, A Star Is Born, What’s Up Doc?, Yentl, and The Prince of Tides.

“Barbra did not just pave the way for us women, she bulldozed the road for us,” Aniston said during her introduction. She also noted, “I haven’t had the pleasure of working with her yet, but I’ve been fortunate enough to spend cherished time with her over the years, and I even got to kiss her at midnight one New Year’s Eve.”

Meanwhile, Cooper said of the EGOT winner, “In her autobiography, Barbra writes that she is always thinking about a piece as part of a whole, and that is evident in everything that she does. It defines her not only as a great singer, actor, director but as a true auteur.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

No really, why were Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper the presenters? Neither one has ever worked with Barbra (yet). Do Jen and Babs really hang out, beyond the occasional New Year’s Eve? And as for Bradley, I wouldn’t put it past producers to think “well, they were both in A Star Is Born remakes, and he played a boyfriend of hers in Licorice Pizza…” The hilarious thing is that Barbra has subtly shaded Bradley’s ASIB (and not incorrectly), and he still signed on to present! I don’t blame Jen or Bradley for saying yes, I just find it odd that SAG didn’t line up someone Barbra has a real history or connection with.

But this is all minor quibbling since Barbra commanded all the attention once she took to the stage. She spoke candidly yet not self-pityingly about how movies were her escape from reality when she was growing up. Despite many, many odds being against her, Barbra somehow found an unshakable confidence as a young artist, and kept to the belief that she belonged in that world. I particularly enjoyed her shout out to Funny Girl director William Wyler and cinematographer Harry Stradling, who she said always listened to her ideas while filming. I was also touched by her saying the original yiddish names of the big studio heads, before they were Americanized. A lot of filmmakers get into the industry because, like Barbra, they’re looking to escape their own realities. Whether people ever leave their roots behind is debatable (don’t forget Barbra has a dollstore in her basement mall, since she never had a doll as a kid). But of course at this end of the journey, it’s the laughter that we remember.

Photos credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for SAG Awards / Netflix

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

19 Responses to “Barbra Streisand got a standing ovation with her life achievement award speech at the SAGs”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Tessa says:

    Possible presenters could have been robert Redford and Jeff bridges or a m y Irving who worked with barbra.

  2. bergamot says:

    I always thought Barbra Streisand and Jen Aniston look alike.

  3. teecee says:

    Barbra probably chose them/asked for them specifically, that’s how these things usually work, so I assume there is a real personal relationship there.

  4. Lightpurple says:

    It was a lovely speech and a well-deserved honor.

    I’m puzzled by the choice of presenters as there are plenty of others in SAG who have worked with her and are still active, including DeNiro. Aniston botched her presentation several times, as if she never bothered to rehearse it

  5. Chantal1 says:

    Yeah, SAG could have had her actor husband James Brolin and actor stepson Josh Brolin (aka Thanos from the Marvel Avengers movies) present this award. Odd to have these two. Im sure Jen was picked to tell about that one NYE kiss…

    Anyway, congrats to Ms. Streisand!! I’ve always admired her for staying true to herself and refusing to butcher herself to meet ridiculous Hollywood “standards of beauty”, which wouldn’t have been easy. That line about her own mother – wow! I remember reading an article about the pressure the music and Hwood industry execs put on her to get a nose job and how she refused bc she was concerned it would change the way her voice sounded and damage her music career. She has such a beautiful voice so I’m glad she didn’t. I also remember many articles explicitly and disrespectfully saying that she wasn’t a “conventional” beauty, disregarding her other talents. Yet she became such a powerhouse, trailblazer and global icon! She was one of the first female directors and is still one of the best selling female singers of all time. I’m also not surprised that she’s an EGOT.

    • Robert Phillips says:

      But her T is for an award just like this one. So technically she isn’t an EGOT. Because she never won a Tony for a performance.

    • Debbie says:

      I agree with you about the pressure I imagine Barbra Streisand must have felt to change her looks and look more conventional in order to get roles. I always admired her for making a difficult choice, but one that felt right for her. It’s not easy to go against the tide. However, I think actress Ida Lupino was out there directing movies in the early 50s, long before B. Streisand.

  6. MaryContrary says:

    I appreciate her calling out the increasing antisemitism in the world. She’s an icon. Maybe Bradley Cooper is friends with her because he remade Star is Born? And Jen Aniston was always told she looked like Barbra?

  7. Nubia says:

    I would have thought Sarah Jessica Parker would be more fitting to present.

  8. tamsin says:

    I caught most of the awards because it was streamed on Netflix. My response was “huh” when Aniston and Cooper were announced as presenters. I thought Streisand’s speech was generous, warm, and very moving. Her acceptance of the award was very gracious, and informative.

  9. Pomski says:

    Idris said in his introduction how Barbra convinced the studio to allow her to reissue The Way We Were with a different ending, an ending she preferred. This is the equivalent of a director’s cut. Problem is, Streisand didn’t direct The Way We Were. To step on another director’s work is a huge no no in the business. It’s this insistence on making her vision the only vision that has made her less liked among her peers than it appears. Brad and Jen were odd choices but I doubt the list was long to begin with.

  10. Bundle says:

    Jen and Barbra are longtime friends — Babs was at Jen’s 50th birthday and commented in a profile of JA about how much she admired the way she carried herself during the Pitt/Jolie affair.

  11. teehee says:

    Why is everybody teary? I dont get it…

  12. Wrin says:

    I was 14 when I fell in love with Barbra Streisand (and Kris Kristofferson!) as I watched the movie, A Star is Born.”
    And, all these years later, the love continues.
    A well deserved honor, indeed!

  13. Sunnyjyl says:

    Barbra is longtime friends with both Jen and Bradley. She also admires both of them. Their presenting was probably at her request.