"When I got out of acting school, I was lucky to have gotten any job at all. A lot of people hiring African American actresses - it was right after 'Roots,' and for society, not me, it was great. Nice richly dark-skinned people was the fashion, and I was not."
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."Anna Deavere Smith on Mahatma Gandhi
"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."Anna Deavere Smith on Robert A. Heinlein
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."Anna Deavere Smith on Jiddu Krishnamurti
"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."Anna Deavere Smith on Dwight D. Eisenhower
"There is more to life than increasing its speed."Anna Deavere Smith on Mahatma Gandhi
"Racism has been for everyone like a horrible, tragic car crash, and we've all been heavily sedated from it. If we don't come into consciousness of this tragedy, there's going to be a violent awakening we don't want. The question is, can we wake up?"
"People who are sick, or who have been sick, or have come close to death have a lot to say - and they want you to hear it."
"Learning is a tunnel experience that makes us think more broadly."
"Somehow we can't live outside the politics of race. There's something very deep in all of us, that is taught to us when we are very, very little. Which is the disrespect and fear of the other."
"I feel like my work has been my path to freedom from having grown up in a segregated environment."