I was a mimic when I was a child. I mimicked the teacher and made friends that way, actually. That was a very subversive activity, because I was a goody-goody who never got in trouble. But if I went off in the corner and mimicked the teacher, people loved it.
People realize that we're very good at sending people to war, but we're not good at taking care of them. And people are coming back from war now; years ago, they would have been killed, now they're wounded; and they're coming back alive and with post-traumatic stress. So, I think Americans are sensible enough to know we've got to figure out a way to take care of them.
When I got out of acting school, I was lucky to have gotten any job at all. A lot of people hiring African American actresses - it was right after 'Roots,' and for society, not me, it was great. Nice richly dark-skinned people was the fashion, and I was not.
We who are in the arts are at the risk of being in a popularity contest rather than a profession. If that fact causes you despair . . . pick another profession. Your desire to communicate must be bigger than your relationship with the chaotic and unfair realities . . . We have to create our own standards of discipline.
If I do three interviews in a day, I can be exhausted, because the process of hearing everyone requires that I empty out myself. While I'm listening, my own judgments and prejudices certainly come up. But I know I won't get anything unless I get those things out of the way.
Confidence is a static state. Determination is active. Determination allows for doubt and for humility - both of which are critical in the world today. There is so much that we don’t know, and so much that we know we don’t know. To be overly confident or without doubt seems silly to me. Determination, on the other hand, is a commitment to win, a commitment to fight the good fight.
Do you want to be an artist so that the whole world will look at you, or do you want to be an artist because you would like to use your ability to attract attention, to have the world see itself through you differently?
I think we can learn a lot about a person in the very moment that language fails them. In the very moment they they have to be more creative than they would have imagined in order to communicate. It's the very moment that they have to dig deeper than the surface to find words, and at the same time, it's a moment when they want to communicate very badly. They're digging deep and projecting out at the same time.
President Obama called for a 'we' nation in his Inauguration Address. Art convenes. It is not just inspirational. It is aspirational. It pricks the walls of our compartmentalized minds, opens our hearts and makes us brave. And that's what we need most in our country today.
When I was a kid, my grandfather said that "if you say a word often enough, it becomes you." Thinking of that later in life gave me this idea that I could try to become America by learning the words of people from many aspects of the country.
The individuals inside are frequently fighting that their individual voices be heard, while the walls of the place, which are the mask, and the perception, are reluctant to give over to the voices of the individuals. Those in the margins are always trying to get to the center, and those at the center, frequently in the name of tradition, are trying to keep the margins at a distance. Part of the identity of a place is the tension between those in the margins, and those in the center, and they all live behind the walls which wear the tradition.