Monday, August 01, 2011

Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself

"So this whole interaction with self and identity was a very difficult one for me growing up. The self that I attempted to take out into the world was rejected over and over again. And my panic at not having a self that fit, and the confusion that came from my self being rejected, created anxiety, shame and hopelessness, which kind of defined me for a long time. But in retrospect, the destruction of my self was so repetitive, that I started to see a pattern. The self changed, got affected, broken destroyed, but another one would evolve -- sometimes stronger,sometimes hateful, sometimes not wanting to be there at all. The self was not constant. And how many times would my self have to die before I realized that it was never alive in the first place?
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Another world was opening up around this time:performance and dancing. That nagging dread of self-hood didn't exist when I was dancing. I'd literally lose myself. And I was a really good dancer.I would put all my emotional expression into my dancing. I could be in the movement in a way that I wasn't able to be in my real life, in myself.
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For a start, we can think about all the times when we do lose ourselves. It happens when I dance, when I'm acting. I'm earthed in my essence, and my self is suspended. In those moments, I'm connected to everything -- the ground, the air, the sounds, the energy from the audience. All my senses are alert and alive in much the same way as an infant might feel -- that feeling of oneness.
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I always wondered why I could feel others' pain so deeply, why I could recognize the somebody in the nobody. It's because I didn't have a self to get in the way. I thought I lacked substance, and the fact that I could feel others' meant that I had nothing of myself to feel. The thing that was a source of shame was actually a source of enlightenment." -Thandie Newton, "Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself" at TEDGlobal 2011

Actor Thandie Newton tells the story of finding her "otherness" -- first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. A warm, wise talk, fresh from stage at TED Global 2011.

1 comment:

plaintheweb said...

I like the speech a lot, thanx