Although I'd seen her in several movies I was completely captured during a speech she gave for Ted on the topic of "Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself" - it's almost 14 minutes but it's worth it if you have some time.
- "Embracing Otherness" - when she first heard the theme she thought 'Embracing Otherness means embracing myself and the journey to that place of understanding and acceptance'.
- As she shares her journey, she goes into the notion of 'self' - and how she believes we are born into this state of oneness but soon begin to move into a world of separateness and individuality - a world of self. That people's perceptions and expectations shape our own sense of self. As she was growing up, she never quite felt she fit in. She had anxiety, shame and hopelessness because she was different - her mom was black, her dad white and she was raised an atheist and was attending an all-white Catholic school in the UK. She struggled with trying to put out different forms of her 'self' hoping for acceptance. But all she felt was rejection of her 'self' over and over. She was wondering how many times her 'self' would die before she found acceptance. Then she discovered new channels of expression. Starting with dance - where she didn't feel like her dysfunctional 'self', she was free to be. Then came acting, at 16, it was the place she didn't feel lost - she found peace being able to release herself from her 'self' and become someone else.
- She then talks about our essence - how there is something that can give the 'self' ultimate and infinite connection - 'oneness', our 'essence'. It is important to understand and connect the reality of oneness and the projection of selfhood. When we 'lose ourselves' we are in our essence, we are suspended, we are connected to everything, all senses are alert and alive - there is a feeling of oneness. When the self is suspended so is divisiveness and judgment.
- She learned to accept and respect her 'self'. She realized it has a function but she stopped giving it so much authority.
- The key to her success as an actor and progress as a person is the lack of 'self' that used to make her feel so anxious and insecure.
- When we are so caught up in our own selves we can mistake it for life and then we are devaluing and desensitizing life and in that disconnected state we don't connect with other's pains, sufferings, or even other people's deaths.
- She ends with "Imagine what kind of existence we can have if we honor inevitable death of self, appreciate the privilege of life and marvel at what comes next - simple awareness is where it begins."
Thandie (which means Beloved) is the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother (a Shona princess) and a British father. She was born in London, lived in Zambia until political reasons made them move back to the UK. She earned an Anthropology degree from Cambridge. She is married with two children.
Her movies include: Flirting, Interview with a Vampire, Beloved, Mission Impossible II, Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness, 2012, For Colored Girls. (Read more.)