Trying to track down a Bill Cosby quote
January 1, 2012 4:59 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to track down a Bill Cosby quote. Someone asked him why he doesn't ever talk about being a black actor, and he had a really great response that I would love to find again.

The gist of his response was (this is heavily paraphrased because I must have seen this 5 or 10 years ago):

"I didn't talk about being black because I figured the best strategy was to be a really great actor, and then instead of thinking 'he's a great black actor' people would think 'he's a great actor, and less importantly, he's black.'"
posted by bullintheheather to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This sounds like something James Earl Jones is identified as saying, and repeating (?) in his memoir Voices and Silences -- that he strove to be "a good actor -- who happens to be black". During the era of more strident Black militancy, there were those who criticized him for this, and it stung. To his mind, he was opening up opportunities for others.

Actually, there's an even closer passage (198-99 in the book):

I can't find anything similar from Cosby.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 PM on January 1, 2012

Is this the quote?

"I'm trying to reach all the people. I want to play John Q. Public."

From this profile. Also, there's at least one other quote on that page which might be what you're thinking of.
posted by achmorrison at 11:56 PM on January 1, 2012

The quote I've heard refers to why he didn't talk about race in his comedy:

"A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, 'Yeah, that's the way I see it too.' Okay. He's white. I'm Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I'm doing as much for good race relations as the next guy."
posted by sm1tten at 11:08 AM on January 2, 2012

Response by poster: What dhartung found was very close to what I remember, so maybe I just saw a misattribution (I'm sure it was supposed to be Cosby). Thanks so much, guys!
posted by bullintheheather at 12:30 PM on January 2, 2012

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