Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr. was born in Coney Island, Brooklyn on May 27, 1936 to Helen Rebecca Wray, a nurse, and Lou, Sr. a Pullman porter. Lou's stellar career started in 1953 while he was still in high school, when he landed a role in the Broadway production of Take a Giant Step.
One of a select group of actors to win both an Academy and Emmy Award, he is
best known for his Oscar-winning performance as a gunnery sergeant in the
film classic, An Officer and a Gentleman and for his Emmy-winning portrayal
of the character Fiddler in the historic TV-miniseries "Roots."
Lou Gossett, Jr.
"The Grace Card" Interview
with Kam Williams
Kam Williams: Thanks for the time, Lou. I'm very honored to have this
opportunity to speak with you.
Lou Gossett, Jr.: Hey, Kam, what's going on?
KW: What interested you in The Grace Card?
LG: Actually, The Grace Card's aim is the same as that of the foundation, the elimination of racism. How synergistic and opportune is that? It seems to me that if we can create a society where racism just can't thrive, it'll go away. My concept is to teach children everything from self-respect to respect for elders and the opposite sex to a dress code to how to conduct themselves and how to live in harmony with the planet. When you start teaching kids these things at a young age, even before they start school, it sticks. It's our responsibility to teach our children and to prepare them for the next level, just like Jews do in temples and synagogues. That's not happening right now, and you don't see it onscreen often.
But The Grace Card is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The magic word is "forgiveness." And from forgiveness comes healing. We have to do the best that we can, with God's help, to clean up our act, and to eliminate the negatives which prevent us from seeing the "Sunlight of the Spirit," and then let the kids copy that. They have nothing to copy right now. Some of the decisions they're making are antisocial and illegal. The culture currently glorifies womanizing, drinking, using drugs, bling-bling, and making babies they don't take responsibility for. And it has them believing that that sort of behavior makes them a man. It's irrational. It's coming from a society that's not healthy. Consequently, this generation is a lost generation. But you can't blame them, because that's all they know. When they look for role models to pattern their lives after, all that's available to them is what they find on TV, in the movies and in the rap videos.
My foundation is showing them another way. If minority kids think they can't make it, it is our responsibility to help prepare them for the opportunity to be full-blown Americans right now. But they have to do it with grace and forgiveness, not with anger and resentment. In my program, they practice that from a young age, including morality and concern for our fellow human beings. We're talking about the uplifting of America. The bottom line is that we need to be more responsible for ourselves and for each other. Every child should have shelter, healthcare, education and clothing. We all need each other to survive. That's the reality.
KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: What has the feedback been like about your lovely autobiography?
An Actor and a Gentleman
Click to buy via Amazon.com
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Wiley; First Edition edition (May 3, 2010)
Louis Gossett Jr. is one of the most respected African American stage and screen actors, who rose to fame with his Emmy-winning role in the television miniseries Roots and Oscar-winning performance in An Officer and a Gentleman. Now he tells the story of his fifty-plus years in the entertainment world—from his early success on the New York stage appearing with Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun, through his long Hollywood career working alongside countless stars, including Marilyn Monroe and Dennis Quaid. He writes frankly of his struggle to get leading roles and fair pay as a black man in Hollywood, his problems with drugs and alcohol that took years to overcome, and his current work to eradicate racism and violence and give our children a better future.