Interviewer subpage 12

Ruby Dee
“How did the actor within you find her way to the stage and screen?”

“Like magnets we are drawn toward something and may not even know why. I think I was preparing to be an actor before I ever knew it. Growing up in Harlem, I was an inquisitive child and keyed into a life of hard times and struggle—poverty and bread lines, street riots, cops beaten’ people, gangsters. And I was also an avid reader from a very early age. I sensed the truth in stories and poetry and understood the connection between literature and real life. I believe all of this profoundly informed my acting.”

“You mean you understood the power of theater to reflect and influence the human condition?”

“Yes exactly. I understood the relationship between life’s struggles and the presentation of words and stories to enhance consciousness about how we live and relate to each other. The people I met in American Negro Theater helped me understand that on the stage. I didn’t really have to do more than relate my life experience and who I was to the character I was portraying. If you don’t be black, then who do you be?”

“This was the basis of your acting?”

“Yes. I had within me the sensitivity to portray others. What I had learned in Sunday school was astonishingly true. We are each other and we are everybody. Even before acting became for me a discipline, I had the ability to let the character come through me.”