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I love my own culture. I love my African-American culture very deeply, and I know it deserves to be honored. You have to be aware that people are suffering unjustly, and given our own history we have a duty to stand for the people who are being treated like our parents and grandparents and children were treated.
When I approach a more mature age, I am not going to live in America. Visiting my grandmother, when she was 94, which is a very long life in Cambodia, I saw how important it was that she was in a community with my sisters, brothers and all grandchildren were so involved in her life. I liked that experience so much more than visiting my sister-in-law’s grandparents in a nursing home. It’s about looking at a community through your window versus being part of a community that’s alive, that is youthful and old and hungry and smelly and loud, where everything is vibrant and colorful.
Children are all unique, so when you’re blending families it’s really important to get to know each individual child… Being a stepparent can be a really incredible opportunity. Sometimes children pay attention and listen to someone who’s not their blood parent. Sometimes I notice how my son Milo learns things from my best friends and people that have been around him, his grandparents and so on, in a way he can’t from his own mum and dad. It takes a village!
Preschoolers sound much brighter and more knowledgeable than they really are, which is why so many parents and grandparents are sosure their progeny are gifted and super-bright. Because children’s questions sound so mature and sophisticated, we are tempted to answer them at a level of abstraction far beyond the child’s level of comprehension. That is a temptation we should resist.
I wanted to be an actor ever since I was five. My grandparents – my mom’s parents in New York – were stage actors. I think indirectly I wanted to do it because of them. My grandfather would tell me stories about Tennessee Williams and actors he worked with in New York. He had such a respect for acting and such a love for storytelling about that world. I grew up hearing him tell tales of it.They were never encouraging me or discouraging me to take part. They were always feeding me with theater.
I think parenting is one of the most important jobs, because you can hit two or three generations with the values in your house and the traditions you establish. But I don’t think I’m very good at it, and I don’t know anybody who thinks they’re very good at it. Probably almost everyone gets an A in grandparenting, but in parenting, if you get a B- you’re doing pretty good.
Everybody has an image of [princess Margaret], to a certain extent. But I felt it would have been harder if we were playing them as they are now. In a way, I don’t know how much of a living memory we as a collective have of them in the ’50s, when Margaret was 21 and this sort of Elizabeth Taylor. You don’t think of your grandparents as being teenagers. You just can’t – your brain just can’t go there!
I used to be Amish. I had to stay a lot with my grandparents or aunts and uncles who are Amish, so I was sort of partially Amish. When I go back there now I still get into that culture. I can drive a horse and buggy because they don’t use cars. And, of course, there’s no electricity. I respect them a lot. The Amish like to live a very plain lifestyle, the way they think God intended. It sort of brings you back to like Little House on the Prairie days or something.