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Forest Whitaker

Stereotypes do exist, but we have to walk through them.

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When I was a kid, the only way I saw movies was from the back seat of my family's car at the drive-in.

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I care about people. In the end, I think they feel it. It comes across, regardless of the character I'm portraying.

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I can play a man who's despicable. But I'll still look inside him to find a point of connection. If I can find that kernel, audiences will relate to me.

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It is possible for a kid from east Texas, raised in south central LA and Carson, who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them and to have them happen.

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In a lot of films, they're showing more complete, developed characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds. The larger concern is to be able to tastefully explore the stereotypes, and still move past them to see the core of people.

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I really wasn't even sure if I should continue acting. I would like try and figure out if I could be good enough to do it. It was like 10 or 12 years into my career before I felt like maybe I can do it. It was such a different time than now.

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As an actor, I've always wanted to do characters that would help me find my connection with others and connect all of us together. You always want the energy of the character, the spirit of the person, to enter you. I've been doing this for 26 years and some of the things I've done are always with me.

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My parents moved to Los Angeles when I was really young, but I spent every summer with my grandparents, and I'd stay with my grandfather on the farm in Longview. He was retired from the railroad, and he had a small farm with some cows and some pigs. I remember part of my youth was feeding hogs and plowing fields and stuff, so that's a part of me.

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I have friends, African American actors, who've had more of a struggle; hopefully they're starting to see some air and light now. But in my directing career, in my acting career, in my producing career, I haven't been bound by a lot of limitations. When I first started doing these kinds of unique characters, these diverse characters, there was hardly anybody doing them. So I had this open road.

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Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker