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.

— Anna Deavere Smith

The most mind-blowing Anna Deavere Smith quotes that are proven to give you inner joy

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.

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Identity is an assemblage of constellations.

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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?

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Be more than ready. Be present in your discipline. Remember your gift. Be grateful for your gift and treat it like a gift. Cherish it, take care of it, and pass it on.

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Friendship is a wildly underrated medication.

7

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.

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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.

5

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.

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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.

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Then everyone leaves, and you are left, each night, to your own devices with a crowd of interesting people - most of whom you don't know - sitting in the dark.

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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.

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Each person has a literature inside them.

But when people lose language, when they have to experiment with putting their thoughts together on the spot-that's what I love most. That's where character lives.

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About Anna Deavere Smith

Quotes 89 sayings
Profession Actress
Birthday October 16

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.

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Self-esteem does not come from surrounding yourself with people and things that seem to increase your value. Real self-esteem is an integration of an inner-value with things in the world around you.

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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.

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Your desire to communicate must be bigger than your relationship with the chaotic and unfair realities.

2

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.

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Confidence is the mark of a hopeful disposition.

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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.

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Some people study a text very deeply.

The people are my text. I study their words and what their words sound like, over and over again.

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

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I am not myself; I am the potential of myself.

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

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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.

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

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Use your time to bathe yourself in the gift.

Move your hand across the canvas. Go to museums. Make this into an obsession.

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Commit to finding the true nature of art. Go for that thing no one can teach you.

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You are an explorer. You understand that every time you go into the studio, you are after something that does not yet exist.

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Each person has a literature inside them.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hope is when you look out the window and you go, 'It doesn't look good at all, but I'm going to go beyond what I see to give people visions of what could be.'

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

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I happen to be a hopeaholic. I tend to look at problems as an opportunity to do some work.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Even jealousy is based on fantasies: a fantasy that someone else has what belongs to you.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What you are will show, ultimately. Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things.

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

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Making your life is ultimately an extraordinarily creative endeavor.

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