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An emotional Jessica Chastain calls for diversity in Hollywood at Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Jessica Chastain accepts the Critics’ Choice MVP award at the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Jessica Chastain accepts the Critics’ Choice MVP award at the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles. Associated Press

On the same day that people criticized the Oscars for the lack of diversity in acting nominations, Jessica Chastain called on Hollywood to “build the strength of diversity” in the movie industry.

Chastain took the podium at Thursday’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards to receive a new Most Valuable Player award that recognized the range of her work.

She gave a short but emotional speech that had the audience hanging on her every word.

"Today is Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, so it got me thinking about our need to build the strength of diversity in our industry, and to stand together against homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist agendas," said Chastain.

"I'm an optimist and I can't help but feel hopeful about the future of film, especially looking at all of the beautiful people in this room.

"Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' and I would like to encourage everyone in this room to please speak up.”

The speech brought the audience of her peers to its feet. Oprah Winfrey was seen saying “wow.”

After she helped announce this year’s crop of Oscar nominees Thursday morning, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Vulture that the organization doesn’t have a problem recognizing diversity.

“The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it's being discussed, and it's helpful so much for talent — whether in front of the camera or behind the camera — to have this recognition, to have this period of time where there is a lot of publicity, a lot of chitter-chatter,” said Isaacs.

Watch Chastain’s speech below.

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