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Hilary Swank

Two Oscars for Best Actress

As a child, I felt like an outsider, and that's not just specific to me. I think everyone has felt like that at one point or another in their life, but for me, I would read books and watch movies, and in that way, I would feel understood. I felt like characters were going through something I was going through, or that would make me feel, "Oh, there's someone in the world that is understanding," and they almost became like they were my friends. And when I realized that it was something I could do with my life -- that I could become an actor and tell these stories, that I could continue to learn about myself in a deeper way, that I could entertain at the same time, and hopefully give that to another child or person and just continue to learn about the human experience -- it was really my draw to become an actor and how I describe what movies are.
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Amy Tan

Best-Selling Novelist

Amy Tan: Reading for me was a refuge. I could escape from everything that was miserable in my life and I could be anyone I wanted to be in a story, through a character. It was almost sinful how much I liked it. That's how I felt about it. If my parents knew how much I loved it, I thought they would take it away from me. I think I was also blessed with a very wild imagination because I can remember, when I was at an age before I could read, that I could imagine things that weren't real and whatever my imagination saw is what I actually saw. Some people would say that was psychosis but I prefer to say it was the beginning of a writer's imagination. If I believed that insects had eyes and mouths and noses and could talk, that's what they did. If I thought I could see devils dancing out of the ground, that's what I saw. If I thought lightning had eyes and would follow me and strike me down, that's what would happen. And I think I needed an outlet for all that imagination, so I found it in books.
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Amy Tan

Best-Selling Novelist

One day, after being told one of these stories didn't work, I thought, "I'm just going to stop showing my work to people, and I'm just going to write a story. Make it fictional, but they'll be Chinese-American." What amazed me was: I wrote about a girl who plays chess and her mother is both her worst adversary and her best ally. I didn't play chess, so I figured that counted for fiction, but I made her Chinese-American, which made me a little uncomfortable. By the end of this story I was practically crying. Because I realized that -- although it was fiction and none of that had ever happened to me in that story -- it was the closest thing of describing my life. Of the feelings that I had, of these things that my mother had taught me that were inexplicable or had no name. This invisible force that she taught me, this rebellion that I had. And then feeling that I had lost some power, lost her approval and then lost what had made me special. It was a magic turning point for me. I realized that was the reason for writing fiction. Through that, this subversion of myself, of creating something that never happened, I came closer to the truth. So, to me, fiction became a process of discovering what was true, for me. Only for me.
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Julie Taymor

Theater, Opera and Film Director

If you look at the scene -- Act Two, it begins with a drought. Now, I could have trees -- green trees with leaves falling off, drying up. But wouldn't a film do that better, and an animated film even better, because they can make it any way they want? So I say, "What -- in the most simplest terms, with the most simplest theatrical idea -- technique can say it?" And it was a big, white circle of cloth that's silk with blue lines on it that was pulled through a hole in the floor. And all you saw was that circle, which was also the circle of life, was also the circle of Mufasa. It's the main element in the entire -- the main symbol is the circle, as the wall is the main symbol in Grendel. You watch this water -- but it's just silk -- disappear through a hole. Film can't do that. Theater is far superior to film in poetry, in abstract poetry.
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Julie Taymor

Theater, Opera and Film Director

Theater evolves through religion to be the mediator between the darkness and existence, to help you get over the hump of a bad season and no rice paddies and a sickness, a demon that's come into your family and has spread malaria. And you go, as the artist -- the shaman -- would make these spirit journeys, and he would take you into a place. Now, it's a psychological play, but as we said, the concrete world isn't necessarily the most powerful world. The world of the mind -- whether you're watching Matrix or whatever -- the world that's inside here has the power to do a lot of good and a lot of damage.
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