My mother, a teacher, encouraged me to use my creativity as an actual way to make a living, and my father, a Mississippi physician, did two things. First, he taught me that all human beings should be treated equally because no one is better than anyone else, and he never pressured me to become a doctor.
When I was a child I used to read books by Gerald Durrell, who founded Jersey Zoo. He had a job collecting animals for zoos and for a long time that is what I wanted to do. Later when I was a teenager I had a fantastic English teacher called Mrs. Stafford. Her enthusiasm made me decide to be a writer.
We’re understanding what Obama is. He is the great teacher. He is this guy that stands above everybody. There’s some condescension in it, but he stands above everybody and says, ‘Now, listen. You people have to stop blaming each other unreasonably. You have to get along here and I am going to show you the way.’ It is a pretty brave role in many ways.
Quite honestly I never had a desire to be an actor. I tell people, I did not choose acting acting chose me. I never grew up wanting to be an actor. I wanted to play football. In about 9th grade an English teacher told me I had a talent to act. He said I should audition for a performing arts high school so I did on a whim. I got accepted.
Both my grandmothers had upright pianos, and I just knew how to play since I was a child. Nobody taught me. I sounded like a grown-up, and then I learned how to read music. I played so well by ear I could fool the teacher to believe I could play the notes. She’d make the mistake of playing the song once, and I could play it.