Anna Deavere Smith Quotes
“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.”
“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. Use your time to bathe yourself in that gift. Move your hand across the canvas. Go to museums. Make this into an obsession…
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“I said, “Los Angeles burned but Los Angeles is but one city experiencing this kind of hopelessness and despair,” I said, “and we need a job program with stipends …” I said, “These young people really, ya know, are not in anybody’s statistics or data. They’ve been dropped off of everybody’s agenda. They live from grandmama to mama to girlfriend.” I said, “We now got young people who are twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two years old who have never worked a day of their lives.” I said, “These are the young people in our streets and they are angry and they are frustrated.”
Anna Deavere Smith
- Date of birth: September 18, 1950
- Born: in Baltimore, MD, The United States.
- Description: 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 Nancy McNally in The West Wing and as Hospital Administrator Gloria Akalitus in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. She is a recipient of The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2013), one of the richest prizes in the American arts with a remuneration of $300,000.
In 2009 Smith published her first book, Talk to Me: Travels in Media and Politics. In 2006 she released another, Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts-For Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind.
As a dramatist Smith was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for Fires in the Mirror which won her a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. She was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1994 for Twilight: one for Best Actress and another for Best Play. The play won her a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and a Theatre World Award.
Smith was one of the 1996 recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the "genius grant." She also won a 2006 Fletcher Foundation Fellowship for her contribution to civil rights issues as well as a 2008 Matrix Award from the New York Women in Communications, Inc. In 2009 she won a Fellow Award in Theater Arts from United States Artists.
She has received honorary degrees from Spelman College, Arcadia University, Bates College, Smith College, Skidmore College, Macalester College, Occidental College, Pratt Institute, Holy Cross College,[disambiguation needed] Haverford College, Wesleyan University, School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University, Colgate University, California State University Sacramento, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wheelock College, Williams College, and the Cooper Union.
The United Solo Theatre Festival board awarded her with uAward for outstanding solo performer during the inaugural edition in November 2010.
In 2013, she received the 2012 National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.