Anna Deavere Smith - Quotes

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I am interested in personal stories because that's when people become expressive, spontaneous and heartfelt.

I am interested in personal stories because that's when people become expressive, spontaneous and heartfelt.

I'm interested when things are upside down - because there are so many possibilities in that one moment. There is a lot that is exposed. ---->>>

Friendship is a wildly underrated medication.

Friendship is a wildly underrated medication.

Racism has been for everyone like a horrible, tragic car crash, and we've all been heavily sedated from it. If we don't come into consciousness of this tragedy, there's going to be a violent awakening we don't want. The question is, can we wake up?

Racism has been for everyone like a horrible, tragic car crash, and we've all been heavily sedated from it. If we don't come into consciousness of this tragedy, there's going to be a violent awakening we don't want. The question is, can we wake up?

Learning is a tunnel experience that makes us think more broadly.

Learning is a tunnel experience that makes us think more broadly.

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. ---->>>

Identity is an assemblage of constellations.

Identity is an assemblage of constellations.

You know if we were to look back and how we were in 1955 living in Jim Crow, living in segregation, living in segregated schools, it's hard to believe that it was America, but it really was. ---->>>

I think we need leadership that helps us remember that part of what we are about is caring about more than the person right next to us, but the folks across the way.

I think we need leadership that helps us remember that part of what we are about is caring about more than the person right next to us, but the folks across the way.

Listening is not just hearing what someone tells you word for word. You have to listen with a heart. I don't want that to sound touchy-feely; it is not. It is very hard work. ---->>>

My main concern is theater, and theater does not reflect or mirror society. It has been stingy and selfish, and it has to do better. ---->>>

Well, the terrible thing right now, and I don't know the statistics, but there's a growing concern in some communities about how rapidly people are sent from school to jail, how quickly they're put into the criminal justice system. And of course the rapidly growing number of brown people, both men and women, in prison. And this is terrible. ---->>>

I mean, I think that - as an actress, in particular, I'm basically a fool, and I see the world upside down. ---->>>

I think as a kid I always liked to listen to people. I loved hearing stories. ---->>>

Movies, as evidenced by a chorus of protesting and celebrating Americans, influence broader trends. ---->>>

People in power have to be careful about what comes out of their mouth. They have to find exactly the right word that can't be attacked. ---->>>

You know, real artists, we expose our flaws. We long for intimacy. ---->>>

My work is about giving voice to the unheard, and reiterating the voice of the heard in such a way that you question, or re-examine, what is the truth. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Somehow we can't live outside the politics of race. There's something very deep in all of us, that is taught to us when we are very, very little. Which is the disrespect and fear of the other. ---->>>

I am lucky: I have fantastic doctors and a fantastic dentist. ---->>>

Each person has a literature inside them.

Each person has a literature inside them.

We owe the government taxes. We owe our creditors interest. What do these powers owe us? ---->>>

You hang around actors, or dancers, the minute you sneeze, everybody has a remedy, and we're all on a million different kinds of diets, and different kinds of things that we do for exercise. ---->>>

I remember from my father's funeral that the minister kept using a metaphor about life of a prism. And I took that away like a cherished image. ---->>>

I don't talk a lot when I interview. My job is to get out of the way. ---->>>

I mean, I think a healthy country is a country where people are healthy physically, and a smart country is a country where people are educated. ---->>>

There's not a lot of flash about me. ---->>>

I feel like my work has been my path to freedom from having grown up in a segregated environment. ---->>>

I never know when somebody's going to knock on the door of my own unconscious in a way that I wouldn't have anticipated. ---->>>

I write plays about big, intense subjects. ---->>>

Making your life is ultimately an extraordinarily creative endeavor.

Making your life is ultimately an extraordinarily creative endeavor.

People who are sick, or who have been sick, or have come close to death have a lot to say - and they want you to hear it. ---->>>

To live your life well, and have respect for what came before or after - there's a strong respect for that in African culture. ---->>>

When you think about it, words can break your heart, or they can change your day. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

I made a real specific decision when I came out of school and most artists were writing about home - if you were a woman, you were writing about being a woman - and I decided not to do that, write about what you know. That's not what I do. I went as far away from home as possible in terms of the development of my imagination. ---->>>

I talk about race a lot. It's been my work ever since I came out of acting school. But it's true that in a way talking about race is a taboo. Because so many of our debates about race have to do not with race but with what we are willing to see, what we will not see and what we don't want to see. ---->>>

The American idea is as promising, imaginative, and full of the unexpected as the land itself. The land represents freedom - the frontier, the ability to make a new future with your own bare hands. ---->>>

What my work is, is my approach to it. It's the practice. And my work is about the effort that I make to get there. And I think if there's anything artistic, it's in that middle space. ---->>>

Because of the generation in which I came into the world, there were expectations. Of course there were expectations. It was something having to do with being a respectable Negro woman who would make the people in Baltimore proud. ---->>>

Artists are the people that no matter what, pick up the pen, pick up a paintbrush. They take the time to translate what is happening to create something that resonates deeply with the rest of the people that are caught in the middle of their own reality. ---->>>

Many people are afraid to talk about race because it's so emotionally loaded. We don't have the vocabulary to talk about it. Every day, our vocabulary seems more and more inadequate. ---->>>

You know, all kinds of people inspire me. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

A lot of acting techniques are very self-oriented.

A lot of acting techniques are very self-oriented.

For me, first of all, I love people, I love ideas. ---->>>

I have a lot of optimism about new doctors because I think it's really clear that it's a lot of hard work and no guarantee of a lot of money. ---->>>

I have never been in a violent movie or television show. ---->>>

I love studying how people are. Not just what they're saying, but how they are, what they're doing. ---->>>

I see myself as not a typical theater person, but a person who uses the theater as a place to meet people and explore ideas. ---->>>

I see myself first and foremost as a student of expression. ---->>>

I think some of our most talented people are not going to pick the arts as a way that they're going to spend their lives. ---->>>

Suddenly in high school, I'm in a predominantly Jewish atmosphere. Jewish people were my gate to white America. ---->>>

I call the language of political figures, pundits and administrators 'the haute couture of language.' ---->>>

I think that art is supposed to be ahead of the times. ---->>>

I would love to have been a documentary filmmaker; I just didn't have the resources to do that. ---->>>

If you think about what acting is supposed to be, my job is to disappear. ---->>>

In my own life I'm frequently in predominantly white atmospheres. ---->>>

In my profession, I'm around a lot of people whose bodies are their instruments in one way or another. ---->>>

Not that many people, even contemporary writers, write about right now. ---->>>

Over time, my students have gotten richer and more educated. ---->>>

Probably the person who said the only color in Los Angeles is green was right. ---->>>

That artists are called to be more responsible and 'true' is a tip of hat to their power. ---->>>

You know, interesting minds usually do hold more than one idea at a time. ---->>>

I think a lot of L.A. is something like USC - this incredible white culture living in the midst of color, and no obvious reaction to it at all. I mean, they have guards at the gate at USC - guards at the gate of a major university! And the guards chase young black boys away - I've seen it, chasing 8-year-old boys. ---->>>

I think it's really important to give yourself a very big question that you're working on that you can come home to, even if you, you know, are going to have to go without a cup of coffee or even a meal, that that should nourish you. ---->>>

We would like doctors to listen, but the fact is, we better be ready to be able to talk to them. You're going to have to be an active participant in that conversation, so I'd say the American people are going to need ways of stepping up to the conversation. ---->>>

Biography

Nationality: American
Born: 09-18, 1950
Birthplace: in Baltimore, MD, The United States
Die:
Occupation: Actress

Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950) is an American actress, playwright, and professor. She is currently the artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress. Smith is widely known for her roles as National Security Advisor Dr. Nancy McNally in The West Wing (2000–06), and as hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie (2009–15) (wikipedia)