Oscar statuette on display backstage during the Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, Calif.
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WATCH: Jessica Chastain addresses lack of diversity in Hollywood


“Please speak up.”

That was the message actress Jessica Chastain delivered Thursday night at the 20th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards as she accepted the ceremony’s first-ever MVP Award.

In an emotional speech, Chastain openly addressed the criticism surrounding Hollywood’s lack of diversity, which was highlighted Thursday morning when the Academy Award nominations were announced – making 2015 the least diverse Oscars in nearly two decades.

“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,” Chastain said. “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.”

This is not the first time Chastain has spoken about the need to increase diversity in the film industry, telling the Huffington Post last month, “I’m an audience member, and I want to see more voices out there…Everyone thinks this is ridiculous. Everyone is saying there is not enough diversity in the industry.”

She added, “When everyone is talking about it, things have to change.”

Chastain was recognized Thursday night for her performances in 2014, which included Interstellar, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, A Most Violent Year, and Miss Julie.

WATCH (remarks begin around 1:50):