November 11, 2014
Backstage.com | by Sean J. Miller
Hollywood doesn’t limit opportunities for actors of color, Morgan Freeman said Tuesday at a Screen Actors Guild Foundation event at Britain’s Oxford University.
“Hollywood is color blind, it only sees green,” he told the audience. “If it makes money the walls come tumbling down. I don’t believe in black history month. Do we also need a Jewish history month and a white history month? If you try to cover black history in a month you will fail.”
Freeman said he admired actors like Sidney Poitier, but didn’t see himself as an African-American performer. “I don’t want to be called African-American. Why not? Because I’m not African,” he said, according to a release.
Freeman also dismissed the criticism that the entertainment industry was sexist. “Streep, Blanchett, Roberts, Thurman, Kidman—no I don’t think there’s an unfair portrayal of women in Hollywood,” he said.
The Oscar winner appeared at Oxford as part of a conversation series featuring “legendary” actors. The inaugural event, titled “Conversations with Morgan Freeman,” was held in the historic university’s debate chambers. Oxford recorded the career retrospective with Freeman and provided the video to the SAG Foundation Actors Archive and its online video gallery.
During the event, Freeman also offered this advice to actors: get to work. “Get a job, act! Being a star is way out there in the ether,” he said. “Act! Work!”
He added, tongue in cheek: “Never look for trouble.”
Acting is more a profession than an art form, according to Freeman. “You do it because you have to do it. Writers write, painters paint, actors act,” he said. “I’m not a Method actor, I just intuit and do it.”
When success does come to a performer, he warned against allowing ego to take over. “Being treated like a visiting dignitary, police escorts, that’s OK,” he said. “The trick is to remember that this is just circus—can I say bullshit? This is just circus bullshit, it’s not real. I only have an entourage when I’m working; they work when I work, that’s all.”
The SAG Foundation said Morgan’s address was just the beginning.
“The SAG Foundation is thrilled to partner with a university as prestigious as Oxford,” Cyd Wilson, executive director of the SAG Foundation, said in a statement. “This is the first of what we hope will be many collaborations to come. Together, our programs will enrich the careers of actors worldwide. Our gratitude goes to Morgan Freeman. We couldn’t have asked for a finer actor to represent the SAG Foundation across the pond.”