When you grow up in abject poverty, you see people exactly the way they are.

I don't know why directing is not something I'm interested in.

What do you want? What do you want your life to be? What do you want your testimony to be? Go for it!

I worked in television; I'm the Failed Pilot Queen, I've done so many television shows, pilots, theater ... when you do it for so long, I'm telling you, you get to the point where it becomes varied because you take what's available for a number of reasons. It's just an occupational hazard.

I can't deal with actors! I can't deal with myself. We're neurotic and miserable ... I love doing what I'm doing, but while I'm doing it, I'm miserable.

My whole thing is, I've got to be as good, as courageous as what's written on the page.

I know that love is real when it's not convenient, when it's not selfish, when it's challenged, sometimes even if it's not reciprocated.

And this is what was fascinating to me about 'The Help'; they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

The predator wants your silence. It feeds their power, entitlement, and they want it to feed your shame.

I feel that confidence in women - especially young girls of color - but women, in general, is so important. It is so important for us to arm ourselves and become powerful at a very young age.

Sometimes you see how humanity can rise above any kind of cultural ills and hate that a person's capacity to love and communicate and forgive can be bigger than anything else.

If it were just a dream to be famous, then I probably would have died a really quick death, because there is nothing about me that equals fame. I'm not a standup comedian. I don't sing.

I know I'm not the best, but I'm proud of myself.

I heard about the book and I said, 'Oh my god, I've got to read this book,' and I didn't know that a white woman wrote it. Nobody said that to me, they just said, 'The Help - Oh my god, you've got to read it.' Everyone failed to mention it was a white woman, I think, because nobody really wants to talk about race.

I think women are very complicated human beings, and I think there's an oversimplification of women when you see them on screen.

I just want different narratives for people of color, especially women of color. I just want something that's different. I don't want us to be put in a box. I want it to be kind of a redefinition of who were are. If I can even achieve that in a tiny way, I'll be good. I'll be good.

This is the richest country in the world. There's no reason kids should be going to school hungry. Food is something that everyone should have. It just is.

He is a regular guy who absolutely is not attracted to his own celebrity. He's a jokester, a little rough around the edges, with great heart and compassion; he loves his family. I feel very comfortable with him. I don't see 'Denzel Washington Star'; I just see Denzel.

I didn't aspire to be just a celebrity; I aspired to be an actress... I always wanted to be respected as someone who knew their craft.

I always talk to all the crew. I always make it pleasant. I always nurture a relationship that makes people feel like they're important, like they're a part of the collaboration. I feel that way about the young actors on set. I don't talk to them like I'm the mentor; I talk to them like they're my peers. And I learned that from Meryl Streep.

Turning 50 is making me reflect on my life in a way that's more compassionate and forgiving.

That's always the biggest surprise when people meet me: how buoyant I am and how fun and light I am.

I didn't see myself any different from my white counterparts in school. I just didn't! I thought I could do what they did. And what I didn't do well, I thought people were going to give me the opportunity to do well, because maybe they saw my talent, so they would give me a chance. I had no idea that they would see me completely different.

We have to stop thinking about diversity and start thinking about inclusion. That's what you can take from August Wilson. That there are whole cultures out there living experiences exactly like yours, and their stories can be just as dynamic, sold in the foreign market, put as many butts in the seats as any Caucasian movie out there.

I think sometimes what people miss about black people is that we're complicated, that we are indeed messy, that we do our best with what we've been given. We come into the world exactly like you. It's just that there are circumstances in the culture that are dictated and put on our lives that we have to fight against.

My grandmom worked as a maid for most of her life, and she worked in the tobacco and the cotton fields, whatever she could get.

I've been online doing all kinds of research and that seems to be the constant criticism, that Aibileen's accent was just too thick. And for me, I don't want anything to distract from the character.

I have been down and out, living in Brooklyn, no money even for a subway, no food whatsoever. Like, I remember just sitting in my room all day - even my television wasn't working!

I don't care if someone is new to acting or experienced in acting: you always learn something from them. It's just like people in life - whether they're young or middle-aged or old, you always learn something from someone.

People don't understand that when you come into any theatrical experience, you've got to come locked and loaded, that you're a part of the experience, too. You can't come with your arms crossed. Be open to it.

I'm the journeyman actor that you saw in one scene here, two scenes there. I've been eking out a living doing theater - Broadway, Off Broadway - film supporting roles, that I'm just excited to be a part of the conversation.

What excites me is just taking some time to breathe in life. The mundane is very exciting.

Vanity destroys your work. That's the one thing you have to let go of as an actor. I don't care how sexy or beautiful any woman is. At the end of the day, she has to take her makeup off. At the end of the day, she's more than just pretty.

I've had to sink my teeth into a role that was probably a fried-chicken dinner and make it into a filet mignon.

When people come into the theater, whether it's the screen or the stage, they've gotta be transported and transformed.

I still feel like when I walk on the set, I'm starting from scratch, until I realize, 'OK, I do know what I'm doing. I'm human.'

I feel the same way about Shondaland I feel about Africa and Greece. I feel pretty in both places. Men look at me like I'm a novelty, and women think I'm just cool. I feel absolutely at home immediately. I'm not altering myself to fit in. I'm walking in just as I am. And there are open arms stretched out to greet me.

I played several maids in my career. I was tired of the maid after 'Far From Heaven.' I said, no more maids. Until I realized how difficult it was to get a role other than a maid, sometimes, in Hollywood, and sometimes you have to choose your battles, for lack of a better term.

You can't be perceived as 'the black actress who doesn't get the same kind of roles as the white actress.' You gotta run the same race. You gotta give the same quality of performances. You gotta have the same standard of excellence, even though people know that you're coming to the race in a deficit. That's just what life is about.

Well, first of all, you read the script a million times. Because what the script gives you are given circumstances. Given circumstances are all the facts of your character.

Acting came from growing up in dysfunction. I mean, a lot of great times, but a lot of dysfunction.

Acting is not rocket science, but it is an art form. What you are doing is illuminating humanity. Or not.

I definitely have a happy marriage and family life.

Sometimes there is no sugar-coating it. Sometimes you have to challenge people's belief systems in a progressive way.

I always feel terrified whenever I put my work out there to be seen, to be scrutinized. I think it's a very vulnerable thing that we are asked to do.

I look back on those early days in the theater like the beginning of a love affair, when you're totally in love with the work, and that's all there is.

When you are an actor, you are in the most powerless position in this business.

And that's what people want to see when they go to the theater. I believe at the end of the day, they want to see themselves - parts of their lives they can recognize. And I feel if I can achieve that, it's pretty spectacular.

I think I've lived long enough to understand that plans really are very overrated.