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Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg
Profile of Whoopi Goldberg Biography of Whoopi Goldberg Interview with Whoopi Goldberg Whoopi Goldberg Photo Gallery

Whoopi Goldberg Interview

Actress and Activist

June 17, 1994
Las Vegas, Nevada

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  Whoopi Goldberg

Tell me about your childhood.

Whoopi Goldberg Interview Photo
Whoopi Goldberg: I grew up in Manhattan, in New York, a place called Chelsea. And I grew up around lots of different people. So we all grew up speaking a smattering of Greek, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Yiddish. I had a great time. There were all sorts of things to play with and to go and be part of. Which now you can do on interactive things like this. You couldn't go and talk to Leonard Bernstein, you could only go watch him conduct. Something I'm very sorry for.

Were your parents comfortable?

Whoopi Goldberg: I can't speak for what they were. I was comfortable. I knew we weren't Rockefellers, but it was never an issue because we went to places we needed to go -- Coney Island, we went on the Circle Line, we had Central Park. There were things you could do without tons of money.

So, I truly don't know what my mom was doing financially. I know that we ate, and times weren't like they are now. I don't know that my mother could have achieved all she achieved on her income today. In today's market, at her income level, I'm sure we would be dirt poor. But back then we weren't.

When did you know what you wanted to do?

Whoopi Goldberg: Oh, from birth.

I knew as soon as I hit that light. I was waving! It's always been. It's as much a part of my whole being as breathing. I always knew this was it. I didn't know it was going to be like this, you know. But I always knew that I wanted to act.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

Did you have support at home?

Whoopi Goldberg: I grew up in a time when it would never have occurred to anyone to tell me there was anything I couldn't do. You know, I grew up in a time when the country was very pro the people who lived in it. That's why as many changes were able to happen, the March on Washington came into reality. People really believed that they had a stake in the country. So there were all kinds of invitations to make the country better. So there was never for me, anyone saying, "No, you're going to fail," or "No, there's no place for you." The only thing my mom every said to me was, "It may be tough, but what isn't?"

What was it about acting that you knew it was right for you?

Whoopi Goldberg: I have two theories on that. One theory I believe is that when people die the spirit flies from them and fragments, and goes into people who are just coming into being. I believe I got hit with a lot of fragments from various people, that's my first theory.

Like who?

Whoopi Goldberg: John Garfield. I feel a very great affinity to him. That's a whole other discussion.

That's why you were so effective in Ghost.

Whoopi Goldberg: Probably, because it's my belief. I think probably that did help me a lot in Ghost,

I believe that we keep the circle. The circle doesn't break, it just reinvents. The other thing is, I just love the idea that I could go be a princess from Greenland in the movies and it's cool. There's no one to say, no, you can't be from Greenland. There's no one saying, you can't be from Hungary. So the idea that you can go into the past, the present and the future, you know, I just think it's too cool.

You can be anybody.

Whoopi Goldberg Interview Photo
Whoopi Goldberg: Anybody, and anything. Who's to say? I could be this great, big microphone, if I had to be. You never know.

Was there a particular experience that meant a lot to you?

Whoopi Goldberg: Yeah. When John Kennedy was running for president he came to my neighborhood. It was the hottest day in a century, it was like 9,000 degrees. People came from all over Manhattan to my neighborhood to see this guy who talked about my country, and my part in it. This was the coolest thing. I was like seven or eight. My mom was there, she had on her pedal pushers, those pants that they now call Capris.

What did seeing JFK tell you?

Whoopi Goldberg: Well, it simply meant that this was my country.

This guy who was going to be the president was coming to my neighborhood to tell me that he was thinking of me. I mean, because I took it very personally. I thought it was very, very cool. I'm a big believer in whistle stops, you know. I believe it's good for the people you're supposed to represent to see you, to feel your essence. So that you as a politician know that when you're setting legislation, you're setting it for real people. People who will be affected by what you decide.

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This page last revised on Nov 28, 2007 12:40 EDT
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