We grew up in abject poverty. Acting, writing scripts and skits were a way of escaping our environment at a very young age.
When you grow up in abject poverty, you see people exactly the way they are.
We didn't have money all the time to do laundry. A lot of the time, we didn't have soap or hot water. We were smart kids academically, but we'd go to school smelling.
I do believe that there are African Americans who have thick accents. My mom has a thick accent; my relatives have thick accents. But sometimes you have to adjust when you go into the world of film, TV, theatre, in order to make it accessible to people.
I feel at home in Shondaland. I feel a lot of things at Shondaland, but one of the things I feel that I haven't felt before is at home. I feel accepted for who I am and acknowledged for who I am. I feel like my ideas are embraced.
It became motivation as opposed to something else - the thing about poverty is that it starts affecting your mind and your spirit because people don't see you. I chose from a very young age that I didn't want that for my life. And it very much has helped me appreciate and value the things that are in my life now because I never had it.
Well, first of all, you read the script a million times. Because what the script gives you are given circumstances. Given circumstances are all the facts of your character.
I feel the same way about Shondaland I feel about Africa and Greece. I feel pretty in both places. Men look at me like I'm a novelty, and women think I'm just cool. I feel absolutely at home immediately. I'm not altering myself to fit in. I'm walking in just as I am. And there are open arms stretched out to greet me.
I've always felt like I was an actor for hire. And almost apologetic for being a woman of color, trying to stifle that voice. But I don't feel that way in Shondaland. I feel like I am accepted into a world where I'm a part of the narrative - I'm a part of it.
I didn't aspire to be just a celebrity; I aspired to be an actress... I always wanted to be respected as someone who knew their craft.
We have to stop thinking about diversity and start thinking about inclusion. That's what you can take from August Wilson. That there are whole cultures out there living experiences exactly like yours, and their stories can be just as dynamic, sold in the foreign market, put as many butts in the seats as any Caucasian movie out there.
August Wilson is the one writer that writes about men like my father, who had a fifth grade education, who was a janitor at McDonald's.
When you're poor, you are invisible. Every poor person will tell you nobody sees you. So being famous was me just wanting to be seen.
That's always the biggest surprise when people meet me: how buoyant I am and how fun and light I am.
Tyler Perry's 'Madea Goes to Jail!' Which, I have to tell you, of everything that I've ever done in my career, that's the only thing that's perked up the ears of my nieces and nephews. That is it, that's done it for them. That made me a bona fide star in their eyes!
I know that love is real when it's not convenient, when it's not selfish, when it's challenged, sometimes even if it's not reciprocated.
I did everything to get food. I have stolen for food. I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame.
My grandmom worked as a maid for most of her life, and she worked in the tobacco and the cotton fields, whatever she could get.
I didn't see myself any different from my white counterparts in school. I just didn't! I thought I could do what they did. And what I didn't do well, I thought people were going to give me the opportunity to do well, because maybe they saw my talent, so they would give me a chance. I had no idea that they would see me completely different.
When you see a parent pass, and you literally are there, and you're sitting at that deathbed, man, and you have to tell them to go, it defines life for what it really is.