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If you liked Whoopi Goldberg's story, you might also like:
Carol Burnett,
Lauryn Hill,
James Earl Jones,
Naomi Judd,
Jessye Norman,
Antonia Novello,
Rosa Parks,
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and Oprah Winfrey

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Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg
Profile of Whoopi Goldberg Biography of Whoopi Goldberg Interview with Whoopi Goldberg Whoopi Goldberg Photo Gallery

Whoopi Goldberg Interview (page: 2 / 3)

Actress and Activist

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  Whoopi Goldberg

What does the American Dream mean to you?

Whoopi Goldberg: I am the American Dream. I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. It said you could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country. That's exactly what I've done. The great divide between my era and the eras that come after me is that you are not getting the encouragement and the "hands-on" from your government.  A lot of times your teachers have been left out in the cold.  So it's hard for them to focus the way that teachers were focused when I was a kid.  There's not a lot of work out there as there were when I was a kid. We had programs that were set up by the country. So, the fact that you're making it now, makes you 5,000 times the person that those who came before you were. Because we had a lot of help, and there's very little help out there now.

[ Key to Success ] The American Dream

What persons were important to you?

Whoopi Goldberg: I think I'm one of those people who was affected, really, truly, by everybody that I met, in a very magical kind of way, you know. I feel a bit like the golden child. But you only know that when you look back, and see the people who touched you and how friends, and camp counselors, and people who denied your humanity, that you overcame, you know. All those people who said you couldn't, and you shouldn't, and you won't, and you will never -- and you did. All those people affected me, and went into making me the sum total of what I became, and what I've become.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

Are there teachers that stand out?

Whoopi Goldberg: No, not really. Just fragments of speech that I remember from various times, but can't necessarily put faces to.

But there are people whose goal in life was to instill the positive ideal that you could go forward. That anything you wanted was yours for the taking, with a commitment to hard work. And knowing that it wasn't always going to be easy. People who taught me that the hardest thing to be in this world, is someone who disagrees with popular people. To take unpopular stances in front of popular people. It's easy to be unpopular with unpopular people, but it's harder to be unpopular with popular people. The people that instilled that in me, I take my hat off to. Because that is the foundation that has allowed me to do exactly as I please, and be and look just like I want to.

I think you're really talking about having guts.

Whoopi Goldberg: I don't know if it's guts, I think it is. I think of guts as something that gives you that Kirk Douglas look. But I think what I mean is the knowledge that it is okay to feel differently than the pack. That that is a fundamental right. That it's okay to disagree. It's better to be able to disagree and have a dialogue, than to go along with the pack and be truly unhappy. I don't want to be truly unhappy. I mean, there's enough out there to piss me off. You know, to bother me. I'm sorry, there's enough out there to bother me.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

Were there any books that made a particular impression on you?

Whoopi Goldberg: I'm dyslexic, so there weren't a whole lot of books in my early life. But I did love stories. I love fairy tales and I love spooky stories. Anything with a good 25 to 30-minute brain trip for me to go on. I still like to be read to.

When did you find out you were dyslexic?

Whoopi Goldberg: When I was a grown woman.

When I was a kid they didn't call it dyslexia. They called it... you know, you were slow, or you were retarded, or whatever. And so, I learned from a guy who was running a program who I met one day and he had written out on a board a sentence. And I said to him, "You know, I can't read that." And he said, "Why not"? And I said, "Because it doesn't make any sense to me." So he said, "Well, write down what you see under each. Whatever you see, write exactly what you see underneath." And so, he brought me to letters by coordinating what I saw to something called an A, or a B, or a C, or a D, and that was pretty cool.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

Once you got into the habit of doing it, it became much easier. Probably, by the time people see this in 2025, they will have been able to eliminate it. They will be able to eliminate it with just an adjustment, a little implant.

What you can never change is the effect that the words "dumb" and "stupid" have on young people. So we must always be vigilant when those two words get stuck in our throat. "Hey, dummy! God, you're so stupid." You know. Just remember that what those leave you with are forever, you know. Be it in 1810, or 4010, you know. The effect that they have is the same.

Whoopi Goldberg Interview Photo
It doesn't seem to have stopped you.

Whoopi Goldberg: No. Because I knew I wasn't stupid, and I knew I wasn't dumb. My mother told me that. Everybody told me I wasn't stupid or dumb. If you read to me, I could tell you everything that you read. They didn't know what it was. They knew I wasn't lazy, but what was it? It's like in the early days when little girls complained about having cramps. Their mothers, and their mother's mothers were just sort of left to deal with it, because it was all in your head.

It took 25 or 30 years for people to understand that menstrual cramps are a real thing, that PMS is a real chemical change in the body. Think of all those little girls whose mother said to them, "Why do you just want attention?" It's still new information that these things are actual body problems. Postpartum depression is a real, viable thing. Now they can help people.

Whoopi Goldberg Interview, Page: 1   2   3   

This page last revised on Nov 28, 2007 12:40 EST
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