David Harewood: The Chilling Story Of How A Hollywood Star Lost His Mind | E185 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "David Harewood: The Chilling Story Of How A Hollywood Star Lost His Mind | E185".

1970-01-03T00:45:53.000Z

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Introduction

Intro (00:00)

I did everything that voice told me to do that, and I had that voice have told me to jump off Thames Bridge. I would have done it. Please welcome David Herrwa! Propel to superstardom and hit you, S drama, homeland. One of our most influential voices on race and mental health. I remember reading about a moment where you come home, you find your father's typewriter with one word written on the typewriter. I just said illness. I didn't quite know what it was, but I knew something was off. I hadn't seen Dad for a while. And then my morning I got up and my mum said, "Don't go into the kitchen and go straight to school, "I left my door." That night, that's when my mum told me that it would be. David Herrwaude was the first black actor to play this part. The hostility that I was met with as a young black actor was ferocious. Newspapers, reviews, just dismissing me. It looks more like Mike Tyson than Romeo. What's he doing on the stage? So I really did feel like I was an anomaly. The whole thing, the stress, the smoke, the overthinking just ended up making me spiral. That's what led to me just falling into psychosis. I was lying in bed and I just heard this voice in my head. He said he was Martin Luther King. Even though I'm speaking to you from beyond the grave, I need you to close the gap between good and evil so you can sacrifice yourself to my hand, you're going to be an angel. And that was the night I was eventually sectioned. I just remember lots of flashing lights and then being in the back of a police wagon. If that would have continued, I'm not even sure I will be doing it here today. - Before this episode begins, I just want to say a huge thank you to all of our new subscribers. 74% of you that watch this channel didn't subscribe before and we're now down to about 71%. So that helps us in a number of ways that are quite hard to explain, but simply the bigger the channel gets, the bigger the guests get. So if you haven't yet subscribed to the Diaries here, if I could have any favors from you, if you've ever watched this show and enjoyed it, it's just to please hit the subscribe button. Without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett and this is the Diaries CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this yourself. David.


Personal Life And Mental Health Journey

Early years (02:10)

What do I have to understand about your very earliest years to understand the man you are, this perspective you have and the work you do today? What is the most important context? Well, that's an interesting question. What do you need to know about me then? That I was probably naive, open, innocent and probably more, probably more conflicted than I thought I was. I was a vessel and into that vessel was just been poured so much. I was like false information, wrong information, that at some point it had to smash, break. I grew up in a time when there weren't many black people on television, when there weren't many black images that aren't television or anywhere. And I think that is, I think that seriously, once they put me to this advantage, but I grew up with a false sense of myself and that, that false picture has only recently emerged. Does that make sense? Not entirely unless I get further context. What was the picture of yourself you grew up with? I would say, I just think I was just way too naive and way too... Way too... That's a really interesting question. I had really thought about that. But I think it's only in recent years and having asked myself some of the questions that I've been asking myself for these last couple of years and I've really started to get a real grip of the person that I am. So who did you think you are when you were younger? What did you think of the world in yourself when you were younger? That was so naive and ill-informed. I think I was. I didn't really think it was important. I didn't think my colour was important. And that's why I say I was naive. I didn't think my colour was that important. I had no concept of myself as a sort of young black man. And that's why I say I grew up at a time and there weren't any images of myself. So I couldn't really structure my identity around a sort of solid identity. And even my... Mother was always sort of trying to steer me into more Afrocentric mindset. I got back to Birmingham where I'm from and I look at how many of us are in interracial relationships of that generation. We were constantly told to assimilate. It was all about assimilate, assimilate, assimilate. You're not even my... I heard the phrase one time, "You're not black, you're normal." Which is so bizarre. It's so bizarre. So that your identity as a black person was sort of ironed out. You just... You're British, you're English. So when I came out of drama school, I think, and the world said to me, "You're black." It was a real sort of wake-up call for me. And seriously contributed to what happened two years after I left. Going back to your mother and your father, how was their relationship and your early experience with them shaped the man that you are today? Who were they as people? Wonderful people. You know, very, very... My mother was extremely strong. And... But dad was a kind of a quiet, silent type, really. Very proud. Didn't really speak much. Didn't really... It wasn't particularly involved in our education, wasn't particularly involved in shaping who we were. You know, he was very much hands-off. You know, he was a long-distance live driver, so he was away a lot. And when he came back, he would sort of sit and watch the telly. And in peace and just, you know... I have to try to talk to him when I was a kid, but he was a very difficult man to sort of open up. Whereas my mother was always sort of talking. And sort of cajoling and very welcoming of her friends. She was just a really wonderful character. It still is. Very, very funny. But, you know, she tells me now stories that she used to, you know, some of the fights that she had, some of the battles that she had. When I was running my book, you know, as I said, we were the only black family on that street. She was constantly in conflict with... with neighbours, with racists. And she didn't back down. She was very, very sharp and fearless. Sounds like my mother. And fearless. Your father, you write a lot about how hardworking he was. The lack of affection, you've described there, the lack of openness. As you look back now, was there a cost to that, to him and to the family, to you? I think so. I think so. I think the fact that he didn't... That's difficult because it feels like I'm criticising him. And I don't really want to do that. I think he was a loving home. There was a lot of laughter in the house. But you know, he loved, you know, all the British sitcoms of the time. And one of my favourite sounds was the sound of him laughing. I loved hearing him laugh. He was my mum laugh. The house seemed full of laughter when I was growing up. So there was a lot of humour in the house, but there wasn't necessarily a lot of tenderness. And, you know, I kiss my kids every morning when they go to school. It's just that why. I don't know why. It's important to me. Maybe it's just become habit. But I want them to know how much I love them. And I want them to know how much respect I have for them and how proud I am. It's important for me to do that. And maybe it's because my dad didn't do that. Not because he purposefully didn't do it. I just don't think he thought it was that important, maybe. Do you think he knew how to do that? I don't know if he did. But I think that's kind of true of a lot of men of that generation. Showing emotion wasn't very easy for them. And also, I think it's really interesting.


Racism (10:18)

A friend of mine tells me the story of... It's very particular to the 60s and 70s, which is why I'm, you know, I'm as a director. And I'm fascinated by this period of late 50s, 60s, 70s England. Because I don't think people understand the level of racism that was present in this country. I've got goosebumps then, Vickis. They don't understand it. And the idea of being othered, that you would leave your house and literally take your life into your hands. I mean, I remember randomly getting off a bus and instantly being chased by a group of skinheads. And you would just automatically find yourself running. Now, to have come here from the Caribbean with ideas of streets are paved with gold, England being the mother country, to have come here with that idea and to be met with that, amount of hostility, to be met with that amount of abuse, that amount of rejection. I think it's seriously damaged not just my father, but many people who came here in that generation, that window of generation, because it's fascinating to me how many Caribbean parents do not want to talk about in that period, just do not want to go there. Because I think it was horrific. And I think it damaged him. I haven't really thought about that before. Well, I really considered it before, but I do think that was a tough period for a lot of us. And whereas in America, movies have been made, plays have been written about that generation, about that period. We've not really looked at it. I have to be completely honest. I grew up in 1990. I was born in 1992, came to the UK when I was two years old from Botswana. I always saw my mum have this, I'll describe it as this like combative. I'd say it's slightly combative attitude towards people. And this general belief that other people were racist. And I never understood it. I never fully understood it. I just thought she viewed the world as being racist. And as I've done this podcast and specifically spoken to people from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s, my mind has been blown because I didn't get it. Of course you know, and it's interesting because I listened to the wonderful Chris Carr. And the world that he was talking about, I know that. I remember it. Growing up in those, I was born just after Chris, five years after Chris, which is why he's such a legend for me. Why him and Sil Regis, they are legends because as kids, I watched them playing football, knowing full well that 50% of the crowd were giving him so much abuse regularly. And yet he was able to play football, smile, score goals, play aggressively. I was in awe of those guys because I just thought, I would be scared. As a kid, I was scared. And that's one of the things I've touched upon in my book, is owning up to that idea that I was terrified growing up in those days because you just never knew where a brick would come from. A car would be walking down the street, whistling yourself, having a great day, next thing you know, "Big up!" From a car. "Come!" from a car. Just monkey noises. It would just come from nowhere. And you were just tight and tense up. You grew up in that environment. So I'm well aware of it, which is probably goes back to that. Your first question about what you need to know about me, that's the environment I grew up in. So I was trying to form a sense of myself. It's constantly been sort of, growing up it appeared where you're othered, where you're in fear and not understanding who you are, was destabilizing, I think. And I'm in a sense lucky that my house fell down when it did. And I was able to pull it back together again. Where a brick would come from? You talk about a story being, I think, five years old where a brick comes through the window and your family home. Tell me about that. Well, I writes about it in the book. And how, you know, "Sattley Mornings" was always "cartoon morning." You know, "Sattley Morning" cartoons back in the day, again, you're too young to know. It was always, you know, Tom and Jerry and "Pepilipew" and... I loved Tom and Jerry. It was great. They were just on constantly. So you would sort of, you know, you'd sort of run down and watch "Telly" and my mom's... My mom was famous for her breakfasts. English breakfasts. Bacon, egg, sauce, chips, all the English, which we used to love. And I remember my mom calling us down for breakfast and running downstairs and then hearing this smash. And we ran into the lounge and there was an English breakfast covered in glass because a brick had come through the window and just... There was glass all over our kitchen table. And we just sort of stood there and shook. And mom said, "Go back to bed." And she just tripped us back up the road, back up to bed. But that was a sort of... You don't know where it came from. In the way it came from. But we were targets. Your mom's reaction there, when I read about this, seemed uncomfortably calm. Well, what are you going to do? You know, and she wasn't always calm and there was times when she... She did, you know, grab people by the colours and have people at the wall. She was fearless. And, you know, she ever called my son "ness" and said, "Get that name again." And she was, you know, she was fearless. But at the same time, you're powerless in that setting because you don't know who threw that brick. And you're almost... You know, I think back to it now, I think... You know, she used to sort of walk me to school and be waiting at the school gate to walk me home. And for me, that was... It was great to see my mom's face at the end of school. But I realised later, maybe once she did that, because when you did go home on your own, years later, it was a bit of a minefield. You had to be careful. You were a target. People don't understand that. Especially people that have an experience racist abuse. The idea of leaving the school gates and the journey home being anxious and looking over your shoulder. Anxious. That's a good word. Which, you know, I didn't realise it at the time, but I think it was a huge amount of anxiety. And then the thing that... The amazing thing about it is... You might go a week without it. You might go two weeks without it. You might go three weeks without it. And then you relax. And then you're normal. And then, bang! Casual! Wednesday afternoon, middle of the day. And suddenly you're right back to being scared. And... I don't really think... You know, I think my whole sense of self, because you do your best to sort of... You do your best to normalise that stuff and think, "I'm not going to let it affect me. I've always had this... My mother's words ringing my head. Don't let it affect you. Hold your head up. Be strong." So you keep thinking, "No, no, no, I'm not going to let this affect me." Is that good advice? Well, you know, I think... Yes. Yes, but... It doesn't always work. It doesn't always work. You know, it crystallised for me when... Rather foolishly, I was a lead... I don't know why. I was a Legion 19 fan. And... I always used to watch watching Legion 19. They were the champions back then. And they came to Birmingham one year to play Birmingham City. And like a jackass, I thought, "Oh, I'm going to go and sit in the leads end." And back in the day, you could... Half-time, you could literally walk into the ground. So I thought, you know, I think I'm about 12. I think I'm about 9, 10 or something like that. And I... Half-time, I thought, "I'm going to go and sit with the leads fans." I mean, I must... The idea of it now, but I walked into the leads. And at first, it was just a couple of monkey noises. And then it became like a chorus of monkey noises. And then it became a chorus of "Goo, nigga!" And then it seemed like thousands of people were screaming abuse at me. And I heard these are words in my mother's words. "Hold your head up. I'm scared." So I thought, "I'm going to go and take my seat." And I kept walking down the touchline, but it got so loud. And then in the end, I thought, "I don't want to sit with these people." So I turned around and walked away. And they cheered... I remember them cheering. But I remember I was really shaken. And I remember to this day, this groundsman, or the member of staff, as I walked out on the ground, he was like, "E-Shout, you're right kid." And I just went, "I was naughty." And I just walked home. But I was really shaken by it. Because I'd done exactly what my mother told me to. But it didn't work.


Your fathers illness (21:39)

In your early teens, after that, your father's mental health began to deteriorate. Were there any events that led up to that? I remember reading about a moment where you come home, the lights are on, and you find your father's typewriter with one word written on the typewriter. Yeah. You said illness. My dad was a prolific sort of organizer. And he started this darts league. And I was always on the typewriter writing out the results and writing out who's played who and who had won and who was going through to next round and who needed the trophy and who was going to... where they were going to play and what times they played. And he just... he loved the darts. But he just took too much on. And he was constantly sort of working at this, organizing this whole thing and organizing the trophy, the season, organizing the meeting, organizing that he was just always... I think he was just doing it all on his own. And... I just think he just took on too much. And... I didn't necessarily... I didn't necessarily see it coming because I was quite young. But... it happened very, very quickly. And... I was usually here, my dad goes to work in the mornings, which is he was keys, jingle jangle down the stairs. And that was sort of my alarm to get up for school. There's my dad hearing my dad come down the stairs and think, "Oh, I've got to get up in a minute." And for a couple of days I didn't hear it. And they would keep hearing arguments in my mum and dad's bedroom. And I thought, "This is something not right. I haven't seen dad for a while. I haven't heard the jingle jangle down the stairs." Something's off. I didn't quite know what it was, but I knew something was off. And then one morning I got up and my mum said, "Don't go into the kitchen. Get changes up in the bedroom and go straight to school at the front door." And I did. And then that night, that's when my mum told me that dad had been sectioned. So it happened really quickly and they'd sort of kept me away from it. But unbeknownst to me, my brothers were holding my dad down in the kitchen because he sort of lost it. How do they explain being sectioned to you when you're in your early teens? Because I would have no idea what that meant in my early teens. They didn't really. It was just, you know, dad's not well. Fards are not well. He's been taken to the hospital. And, you know, there's always that gig. There's always that sort of... that gag at school that, you know, the men in the white coats will take you away. You know, you'll crave that screen. You're crazy or you're going to be taken away. And that's what happened. My dad was taken away. I didn't see it, but I knew he was... I knew that he'd been... I know now, obviously I haven't... of the recent years, I know that that's what had happened to him. He'd been sectioned. And when I was sectioned, I suddenly realized that I suddenly... especially when I was writing the book, I thought, "That's what had happened to him." And that now... it's only once I'd written my book and really understood what that was like, having your liberty taken away from you. Because I think that in prison is about the only being in prison. There's about the only times when your liberty is taken away from you. And it was only then that I started asking myself... sort of started looking at my dad's life and sort of retrospect and thinking... because he hated it. My dad hated it. And it was never the same again when he was released. It was never the same again. And I don't think... I think he had a really bad time in there. A really, really difficult and bad time. Which I don't think he ever forgave my mother for. Understanding what you understand now about the nature of mental health and what causes it... and your own experiences with mental health. When you look at how your father became to be sectioned... have you got any suspicions about why that happened beyond that he took on too much at the darts? I do think that there was a lot of resentment and anger built up in him. And you've got to wonder why... And this is... I only found this out again once I started writing my book and started looking at mental health. And the numbers are black. Black people are overrepresented in the mental health system in this country. And what I realized is that it was a Jamaican psychologist who actually performed this study. And he realized that black people... there's way less mental health in Africa amongst black communities. There is mental health problems but way less psychosis. But there's more in when they are transmitted to a Western culture. So there's more mental health... episodes of mental health in England amongst the black community and in America amongst the black community. And I think there's something about... I call it in my... and this is one of the things that my therapist talks about... when you're in a white space. And that's not a derogatory term but... England is essentially a white space. And I'm sure you've been in rooms where you're the only color. The higher up the ladder you're... the one they call it the tall poppy syndrome with the higher up the ladder you get... the less of your own people you see. And I think, you know, my thing... I think my dad had found it very difficult coming from the Caribbean and coming to England. And dealing with a completely different mindset... I think he'd found that... difficult... and resentment had built up. And I think I was going to say a point earlier on that illustrates this. But a friend of mine used to told me that his dad used to work on a... on an assembly line. And in the days of... in the 70s, Jim Davidson was... doing his chalky routine. That... and he was the only black person on the assembly line. Every Monday morning, after new faces or whatever it was... Jim was on the comedians or everything, doing his chalky thing. Every Monday morning, he would be chalky. And his dad would laugh and take it. And, you know, throughout the week they'd be calling him chalky... and he'd be "deli-developing" and "name chalky chalky chalky" and he's chalky. His dad would laugh. And then on Friday night his dad would get drunk and beat the fuck out of him and his mother. And I think that was just a build-up of resentment. Of having to live in this place where... yeah, everyone's calling me this name. Everyone thinks it's funny. And I'm laughing. But there's a build-up of resentment that he then takes out on his family. Now, I'm not saying... I'm not saying my dad... had that level of resentment, but I think... there was just something about being here that... he started to find difficult to live with, cope with mentally. When I read through your book and also a lot of the stories you've told me today...


Social rejection from everyone (30:16)

I mean, I remember one particular story where you've got a girlfriend in school and then... you come into school the next day, her father has said that... she can't be with you because you're black. This constant, constant rejection, social rejection... you used that word earlier on the word rejection and it feels so apt because that's really what's... I think on a psychological level going on, even going to the football... and then being rejected socially from that crowd. It's constant throughout your story. I've read these studies about labeling theory where... when you tell somebody they are something in these studies they eventually become it. So, there's the famous prison study where they said... you're the guards, you're the prisoners. They had to stop the study because the guards were so harsh on the prisoners. And labeling theory says exactly that. Your teacher says you're a dean, you're going to be a failure. The chances are that will actually lower your performance, your self-belief. How do you stop that happening when society has rejected you for years and years... growing up at the most formative time? I think I was lucky because I do think that... I lived amongst a lot of people who... who didn't define you that way. So, I think that was... I was very, very lucky for that. But... I think... I think that person had to... I think that house had to come down. Which is what I think my breakdown was all about. The more I learn about it, the more I realize that that image of that young boy... I had to start again. I had to rebuild my image of self. And that's what I've sort of... It's interesting because even though I happened 30 years ago... I'm only now just dealing with it because I only found the records. I only did that documentary. All this is recent. And I think if I had talked to you last year... I'd probably be in tears by now because... so much of this is recent for me. I'm having to deal with a lot of it. I just... I've spent the last 30 years in this sort of cocoon... not really dealing with a lot of this stuff. And it's only since reading my medical records and doing that documentary... and uncovering all that trauma. As I say, the first thing I read when I opened my medical records from 30 years ago... which were the medical records that the BBC found in the bowels of the Whittington Psychiatric Hospital... I had no idea they were going to give them to me. No idea. I had no idea they even found them. The first thing I read was... "Patient believes he has merged hearts with a young black boy." And I just thought, "What is that?" "What is it?" And I just looked through the medical records and it's all to do with my race... and my identity. All of it. I was just confused. I'd sort of lost touch with my... identity. Going off to drama school and playing Romeo and Pushkin... and doing all these... doing... Molly Air and Dostoevsky... doing all these European... romantic playwrights and Shakespeare... and all these different characters and thinking... "My character... my colour doesn't matter. I can do all these wonderful things." And then I came out of drama school and every newspaper article... was all about my colour. Every job I went through was all about my colour. I could go for these jobs and not these jobs. And it just... It was like I hadn't... It was almost like I hadn't... dealt with it. I didn't doubt with my core identity as a young black man. And... it all started to just... I started to overthink it. "What was your core identity that you hadn't dealt with as a black man?" I think just understanding myself... what your first question was. Understanding myself in the world and knowing... having confidence in myself. There's too many questions about my identity. I think one of the things I... did when I... sort of therapist after my documentary... was I sought out... I've had therapy many times in my life. But I sought out a black therapist. A black male therapist. And that has been really strikingly revealing... to me. Because some of the questions I had... he would kind of say, "Well, why do you think like that?" And he would question why I think like that. And... I found it remarkable how... he was able to make me understand... that a lot of the things that I've... a lot of my fears, a lot of my insecurities... are only natural. Maybe potentially because I have... maybe grown up... predominantly in a white environment. And maybe I didn't... maybe I wasn't comfortable with myself. I'm much more comfortable with myself now. What were those fears and insecurities? You can ask that. You know, there's that... image of the strong black man. You know... greater dancing, greater sex, greater chatting women up, greater... it's greater that. And... I felt maybe that I didn't always live up to that. And if you have that... idea that you can only be one way... as a black man, the world is telling you that. You could only be this way. Then you sort of don't feel like you measure up. And... actually I've learned, yeah, you can be vulnerable. That's okay. You can be sensitive. That's okay. You... it's okay to be... not be... you know... darkest McFly, you know, who just... beats down all the girls, dances fantastically, does all... you know, he's the alpha black. It's okay not to be the alpha black guy. It's okay. And that's taken me a while to sort of understand about myself. I think Jay-Z... it's interesting. I think there's a thing about Jay-Z talks about... the Gold Silver Bronze... the Gold... I think it's a book where I had to be black. It's a very, very funny book. We talked about the Gold Silver Bronze Black man. You know, the gold born in the ghetto. Black wife, black friends, you know. So, you know, it's a great thing. Silver born in the ghetto. Black wife went to university. Bronze born in the ghetto. White wife. You know, and you sort of get less and less... you sort of get less... less black. It's mostly copper or something. The more you take it. Yeah. And then you see... but then you see the facts of that in schools where you go... where you have teachers will tell me that, you know, you'd get a really intelligent black kid. But just to fit in with his peer groups, he won't work as hard. Because he fears the more intelligent he is, the less black he is. The brighter he is, the less black he's seen. The more... and I hate that. Isn't that funny being rejected by the white community, but also the black community? Well, that's exactly what I had. So, you know, when I came out of Rada... so I had tough... I had this sort of... when I started being an actor, you know, black community, I'm like, "You're gonna be a what?" That's too white. You're too white, man. And then I went to Rada and kind of did all this... Shakespeare, all these plays. And then I came out speaking like this, and everybody went, "You're way too white." And so you get rejected by the press and critics because you're black. And then you're also being rejected by the black community because they... you don't look... or you don't sound like... you know, man from the ends. You don't sound like... you don't talk like that. So I really did feel like I was... an anomaly. Quick word from one of our sponsors. I've got a tip for all of you that will make your virtual meeting experiences I think ten times better. As some of you may know, by now, BlueJeans by Verizon offers seamless, high-quality video conferencing. But the reason why I use BlueJeans versus other video conferencing tools is because of immersion. Their tools make you feel more connected to the employees or customers you're trying to engage with. 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I've got the banana one here, which is where the one my girlfriend likes, but for me, salted caramel is the one. At age 23, I think it's age 23, that's around the time you were sectioned.


What would you have had to change inorder to not be sectioned? (40:51)

Yeah. This is a very strange way of asking the question, but in hindsight, knowing now what you know about why you were sectioned, what was going on in your life, your mind, your environment, the press, professionally, personally, what would you have had to change or void due differently before then to have avoided that happening? That's a million dollar question. It really is a million dollar question, and I'm not sure there was any... anything I could have done. I think that... I think it had to come down. I'm a great believer that in trauma there's a lesson that there was something in that for me of value. I don't think... I mean, I was very lucky that I came out of it, but I do believe, and as I have got older in my life, and having written the book and having had so many people tell me since writing that book, I saw so many people say, "Thank you. I'm not crazy. Thank you." You really articulated everything that goes on in my... some of the frustrations that come. I've only given voice to things that a lot of people experience. I took it to an extreme, I think. And I think it's probably, as an artist, as an actor, has benefited some of my work. It's enabled me to take things, perhaps a step further than maybe what some people can take things. I think it's given me a perspective. I think there was something of value in it for me. I don't... I think it had to happen. I don't think I could have done anything to have stopped it, which is both scary and worrying. What do you remember about that time? Because it seems to be quite a blur when you recount the events. It's almost like you have these abstract memories of different moments. It's interesting, because I do believe I started this process thinking that it was going to be fun. Because it's like manic depression. It is often psychosis. It's often preceded with a mania. A heightened adrenaline rush. The dopamine levels in your brain are heightened. And it's quite exciting. Because you're not getting sleep. It's often drug induced. And you are really sort of operating at this quite high level. And I remember doing some pretty extraordinary things. I remember brief moments of real sort of mental acuity and there I said there was almost moments of fun. But it's usually preceded by a crash. So I sort of went into this thinking, "I'm going to remember all the fun things I did." Some of the extraordinary things I did. And there were some really wild things. I was experimenting with a sense of reality, what was real and what wasn't real. Thinking I could do anything. It was bizarrely exciting. Give me an example of something that you recount that is. It's interesting because one of the consultants that was in the documentary tells me that -- because she asked me for an example. I said I was walking -- walking down a street one morning. I hadn't slept all night. And there was a guy across the road and he had this huge doberman. Huge kind of massive musculate. And I'm normally quite afraid of dogs. And I just walked up to this guy, I said, "What's that dog's name?" And he jettled something. And I looked at this dog and I screamed the dog's name. I looked at this dog quite aggressively in the right in its face. And the dog just literally lay on the floor and started wellping. Wellping on its back. Just freaked out. And the consultant said to me that often dogs can pick up some energies, disturb the energies. And this guy was really freaked out. He said, "What do we -- the dog was literally wellping and moaning on the floor." And I just fixed this dog with no fear and screamed its name right in its face. Just freaked the dog out. That night you were sectioned.


The night you got sectioned (46:19)

I read that you hailed the taxi and it was ultimately the exchange for the taxi driver. I mean, that was an extraordinary -- and again, it was the voice of Martin Luther King that was in my head. You hear voices in you. One of the aspects of psychosis, which is what I suffered from, you can hear voices, you have illusions, illusions, delusions that seem incredibly real to you. And I was lying in bed and I just heard this voice in my head. Wake up. I'm like, "Just come over. Set up in bed. Look around the room thinking, where's that come from?" And this voice was in my head. Sounds totally bizarre. This voice was in my head and he went on to say, "Look, I don't want to tell you who I am right now because you're going to be really scared. But you have to go to Camden. You have to walk into this store. Don't be surprised if it's open at three o'clock in the morning. Don't be surprised to open. Whatever you do, do not turn around. And it was all these things I had to do. Whatever you do, don't do this. Whatever you do, don't do that. But then go into this store, walk to the back of the store. There's going to be one suit hanging up on a rack at the back of the store. You need to put this suit on and then when you turn around, don't be surprised to find out that it's two o'clock in the afternoon. He said, "I'm going to close the space time continuum and we are going to close the gap between good and evil." This whole thing. And it ended up being Martin Luther King. He said he was Martin Luther King. And he said, "When you, when you, because I played Martin Luther King as a kid, it was my first, the first acting thing that I had ever done." And he said, "When you played me as a child, I entered your heart." And when I was, he said, "Even though I'm speaking to you from beyond the grave, I need you and two or three other people in the world to activate something." And closed the gap between good and evil. And he said, "So you're going to sacrifice yourself tonight and you're going to be an angel." And this voice was swear to you. It was like, really in my head. And I'm sobbing in my bedroom, listening to this voice. He said, "Tonight's the night." And that was the night I was eventually sectioned. But I got up, got my clothes on and walked all the way to Camden. Obviously the shop was closed. It took a look in the morning, you know, out of my nuts. So, and I was exhausted and I thought, "I've got to go home." And flagged the cab down. And I didn't have any money. And I don't remember, I just remember this driver looking around and then the driver pulling over and then for lots of flashing lights, obviously the police. And then being in the back of a police wagon and then sitting in a cell, all this was just, I'm in and out of what seemed like a dream for me. I was in and out of, I remember being in this cell and then going to Magistrate's court in the morning and not remembering my name, didn't remember my name at all, didn't know who I was. Couldn't remember who I was. And the duties solicitor sort of talking about my mom and then said, "My dad's name is Romeo." I went, "Romeo, hang on a minute. I played Romeo. I played Romeo. I played Romeo. I played Romeo. David, David, Edward." I used my sort of career to get back to who I was. Then left the winter court and had no idea what was happening in this court. I was the judge or speaker that me and I was just a mess. And I walked out of court and again, lucky, but some woman who'd been in the court walked out and said, "You're okay?" And I said, "I don't think so. I don't know where I am." She said, "Where do you live?" And I said, "I can't remember." She said, "What's your nearest tube station?" And I said, "Hiber, Lizzington." And she flagged the cab down, gave the driver £10 and said, "Take him to Hiber, Lizzington." And I got out of Hiber, Lizzington, walked home and my friends were waiting for me. Because they'd been looking for me all night, couldn't find me. And that's the day that they knew something was, even though they'd been sitting with me and visiting me for the last couple of weeks, they knew something was off. They knew it wasn't well. And that's the weird thing about mental health, or particularly psychosis. You see somebody acting very strangely. Something that you love, it could be your son, your husband, your mom. They just suddenly start acting out of character, becoming obsessed with something. It's like they suddenly change and you know something's wrong, but you're sort of desperately hoping that they sort of come back. And that's sometimes, you know, they don't. And you have to make that call to have them section. And luckily for me, my friends would've been there because if they weren't there, I think I would've been in real trouble. If that would've continued, I'm not even sure I would've been here today. So I was very lucky. How long did that process last before you were sectioned of the sort of gradual deterioration? Well, I think it was happening for a while because I remember working and not feeling great. So I'd say at least two or three months there was a slow progression of not sleeping, overthinking, trying to hide that, drinking to sort of self-medicate. I knew it wasn't well, but I thought I could handle it. I'm trying to understand how much of that you believe is a physiological, biological situation, or maybe predisposed by biology versus circumstance experience and the things that you'd been through.


Being sectioned: Biology vs experiences (53:14)

I think, and again, speaking to my consultant who was working on my documentary, it's a combination of both things. Your propensity, your chances of you having a breakdown are sort of reliant on levels of stress, lack of sleep, what's called ACEs, which are these fundamental, like people who experienced trauma in life. I mean, for me, I think it was my parents' divorce and not dealing with that. Not dealing with that at the time. So much of it has been squashed, not dealing with some of the trauma that was in my life. And I think a lot of it was coming out slowly coming out then in that one slow progression of being deeply unhappy. Why? Why were you deeply unhappy? I read that and I thought, "I came out of drama school and the hostility that I was met with as a young black actor was ferocious newspapers, reviews just dismissing me, completely dismissing me." I started sort of left drama school with a bit of heat. People were really excited to see what I was going to do. The school was very, very excited to, you know, everybody was talking to this young kid coming out of drama school. It was going to be, you know, and I just got slaughtered. Slorted. All about race. All about race. I played Sloan in Entertaining Mr. Sloan, Mr. Sloan, who is quite a devious bisexual character. Murder is actually also a murderer. And there was one reviewer, a black reviewer who said, "Who was outraged that I had taken the part because I was letting the side down?" And he said that people should go and demonstrate their disapproval of Mr. Hairwood's choice of employment. And I read it. I was like, "Wow." But that down. And I noticed that night, people, as Sloan has this really kind of tough monologue, we talked about abusing somebody. In the middle of this monologue, I saw people get up and walk out. And I noticed that they were black. And then the next night, more black people started walking out. And it was always in the middle of that monologue, black people would get up and walk out. And it was really tough to deal with. It was really tough to try and they were sort of chupsing and "but" as they walked out. And sort of it was really disturbing me because I had to get on with the play. And that was only the second act. It was another three. So the whole way through that play, I was sort of coping with, "Why do they walk out?" Get on with the play seems to be quite an apt metaphor for that period of your life. Yeah, and I wasn't really dealing with it. So dealing with the fundamentals. So I think that's when the drinking started. To be able to get through the play, I started drinking. To be able to, I started self-medicating. So I was drinking a lot before, during, after the show, smoking, after the show. And the whole thing, the stress, the smoke, the overthinking, lack of sleep, lack of sleep, just ended up. Making me spiral. How long from being sectioned to getting back to acting, how long was that sort of recovery process per se?


The time being being sectioned and back to acting (57:29)

It was not quicker than I realized actually, which surprised me. I thought it was going to be months, but it was, I was sectioned for about five days initially. And then again in Birmingham for another five days. And then the recovery was just about. Convincing my mother that I was okay, because she was convinced that it was acting. It was acting that sent me crazy. And then I was never going to act again. And then I was never going to go back to London again. I was never going to be allowed to act again. So she tried to watch me like a hawk for about a month. Maybe a month, six weeks. And eventually she allowed me to travel back down to London and get on with my career. I sat here with Maisie Williams, the young gamer thrones actress. And she talked to me about how acting was a form of escapism in her life, because I home had such little joy that acting became this place, almost this therapeutic place where she could, I guess, in some respects abandoned that identity. And I remember reading from this like Swedish philosopher, which I wrote about my book once upon a time, who said that when we, if we try to abandon ourselves, we'll ultimately just bear in mind he wrote this 200 years ago. So he was just, you know, if we try to, yeah, yeah, it's still true. That's why it really, it was stated to me. If we try to abandon ourselves and we're successful, we'll despair at the fact that we've abandoned ourselves in our identity. If we try to abandon ourselves and we're unsuccessful, we'll despair at being unsuccessful in our attempts to become other than we are. And he concludes in his like big philosopher piece that the only true way to be happy is to accept that which you, who you are, and to not abandon yourself. You know, that's his conclusion after this long study that he's done on people. That kind of rent felt almost quite true when I think about what acting is in many respects. For me, it was this attempt to abandon the self and actually to not confront the issues. And then she ultimately had to at some point confront those issues and what had gone on in her family home, what her father had done to her. But acting was her escape at 12 or 13. Is any of that reminiscent to, or does any of that ring true specifically this idea of like the role acting played in identity for you? Acting is the only space I feel 100% confident in. Why? Because everyone knows their lines. Everyone knows where they're going to go. Everyone knows the movement. Everyone knows the play. On stage, I just feel, that's probably where I'm at my happiest. Why? I can't explain it. I just become, you become somebody else. You know, when you're, that's the true nature of, I think, of art. It's like somebody paints, I think. You know, they want to create something and they're free to create. And golf could be tortured, it could be tortured, but you can still produce an amazing piece of art. You said that I'm not going to be acting because I become someone else. So what does that say about oneself? If I'm myself on full of listening securities, there's doubt, there's decisions to make, there's about, which is what, which is why life I think is so unique. I don't know what you're going to say next. None of us know, that's what's so beautiful about it and so fantastic about it. But on stage, it's a controlled environment. So for those two hours, I can be kingly. I can be a fellow and I completely put myself into that. And it's, that's, I feel, it's like, I'm at, I guess you would, I guess you could say, who football to say that? You know, on the pitch, no problems. George Best, on the pitch, a genius. Off it. An alcoholic. Somebody who can't, somebody who can't cope, Maradonna. On the pitch, a genius. Off the pitch, something else. You can't cope with life. Life is uncontrollable. Life is full of contradictions, full of difference, full of failures. It's, it's, it's, it's, it's very difficult to distill. Whereas on stage, I can play that and I can put myself into that and pour myself into that character. And I feel great. It's the most freeing place for me. It's the most freeing thing I could, it can, I've ever experienced. And that's why I love it so much. So what Maisey said, she said it was, for her, she said actually, it was the only place she experienced joy. Yeah. I can not completely, completely understand that. But what, that, not to be repetitive, but what is that saying about the nature of our, our life in terms of, why can't life be joyous as equally joyous? What would we have to do to make our, our acting life when we're king? Well, that's the secret, I guess. And that's, that's the secret of sort of finding a place where you can be, and I'm sort of on the way, you know, where you can experience joy. And I think that's, that's a, it's a lifelong struggle, but you have to work at it. 2019 was the first time, 2017, 2019 was the first time she really opened up about your experiences in terms of... To the press.


Opening up about your breakdown (01:03:11)

I'd always, I, I mean, that was the shock of it. I, I tweeted, 2017, tweet randomly tweeted. As somebody was at a breakdown, I just want to say, look, have a great, it was mental health day. As somebody is at a breakdown, just want to say, look after yourself today, get some help if you can. Got on the plane, flew to America, got off the plane, 50,000 retweets, calls from ITV, calls from the BBC, calls from the Guardian, calls from the Independent. Oh my God, you had a breakdown. And I just completely forgot I hadn't gone public with it. I've told everybody. It's been a bit of an anecdote for me, a bit of a late night drunken anecdote for me that I had a breakdown and spent time in the men. But it's only since doing that and I've really looked at it and really understood it. That moment of oversharing has led to all of this, has led to my first book, it's going to lead to my second book. It's led to this reckoning, which would not have happened had I not have sent that tweet. 2019, you produced a documentary. Everybody talks about that documentary. Really incredibly powerful, but just artistically brilliant in so many ways, but so many people talk about it. You know, I even had members of my team put in big brackets, it is so good. When they were referring to a documentary, they don't usually do that. It was really profound and important in so many ways. How did that change your life? Again, because, and this is really odd, but I'd seen that documentary almost a thousand times because I watched it nearly every day, a year before it went out. The night it went out, I was absolutely terrified. As soon as I saw adverts for it, I panicked and I was, maybe call the BBC and said I don't want to go. I was really scared. That was really unusual for me because I'd seen it and I was happy with it. But going public with it was a whole other thing. I was really scared, really anxious. I think the whole house picked up on it because my kids went to bed early. My wife went to bed early. She went and she was like, after all she said she was worried that the kids might get ribbed at school or your dad's there. I hadn't even thought about that. My son thought, "Fuck." I'm letting people in here. I was really scared. I remember I had a therapy session online with my therapist. When we finished it, it was kind of dark and I thought, "Well, it's got half an hour left to go. I'm not even going to watch it. I'm just going to go to bed." I was just about to go to sleep and stay every single device in my house was beating. Everything was just buzzing. I liked it. How's phone went? I jumped out of bed to wait the house. The first thing she said was, "Brilliant." That really calmed me down. I went and I watched her and she said, "I've just watched it." She said, "Brilliant." Well done, son. Huge sigh of relief. Then started looking at all these messages and emails and they were all really emotional and moving. I went to bed and got up in the morning and I took my dog for a walk like I normally am. I could not walk ten feet without complete strangers coming up to me in tears. I swear to God going, "I just want to say Mr. Hairwood, thank you." Normally, when you're an actor, people leave you alone. You know what it's like when you're on the telly. People kind of go, "Oh, that's a guy, but that's that guy for telly." But suddenly it was Mr. Hairwood, not the guy from the homeland or the guy from Supergirl or the guy from it was Mr. Hairwood. Excuse me, Mr. Hairwood. I just want to say, "Thank you so much. Tears strolling down their face. My dad had a breakdown and we never talked about it and just want to say the fact that we all suddenly started talking about it and started talking about dad and I'm blubbing there crying." Then I go, "Thank you very much, walk up." And I suddenly realized how common it is and how everybody was touched by it because you just don't talk about it. There's a shame attached to particularly psychosis and particularly to being taken away. There's a shame attached to it. For some reason, maybe because I'm an actor, I have no shame. So me, a recognizable successful actor talking about it allowed them to talk about it. Got a call from mine saying, "Phone's ringing off the hook. People are talking about psychosis because they didn't, they didn't, now they understand what happened to their son. Now they understand what's happening to their, who's only just been sectioned that morning. And on this book tour, I constantly do signings and nearly every single time I sign, I go to one of these book tours, there's somebody who comes up to buy the book for it to get it signed and they're crying. And they go, "I've just come out of a mental institution. I just want to say, seeing you, it gives me hope that I can get better." Or there's a mother who says, "My son's just been sectioned crying our eyes out. My son's just been sectioned. He was away at drama school. It was away at school." Because it happens normally when kids go to university or when they go away from home and they might smoke, they might drink, they might find themselves in the strange environment. That's when it happens. And the amount of times I've had to kind of pull up, get up and just hug the stranger and just say, "They'll get better." I sometimes sit here with people and there's a moment where they let the wall down. And the wall can be a number of things. Sometimes it's sexuality. Sometimes it's something that they've been holding inside of them. You know, they've not told friends, but letting the world in and then feeling that feedback that people weren't attacking them. They didn't lose their job. And that sometimes can be quite a liberating thing. From then on, once we've let the wall down, whatever it is, and really let people in and see our deepest insecurities or our fears, life can feel different. And we can be more open and honest and vulnerable. I can't say that happens because I then had three years of dealing with it. Yes, tell me about that. Because I thought, "Oh, okay, I've let the world in." And as you say, where's that moment of relief? Yeah. And it was torture because I couldn't cope with all these people coming up and saying, "Thank you so much." Normally you've got that shield, I said you've got that shield as a recognizable face where people don't bother you on the train. People don't bother you in the street, but they were. And they were coming with these really emotional stories. Some people's parents died being restrained. Now, I talk about seven policemen jumping on me and giving me what's called an emergency tranquilization. I talk about that in my book. How I survived that, I don't know. Because countless people have died like that. Black people being restrained by police. The amount of criminalization of that, the criminalization, particularly of black people, in that period of illness, of psychosis, is, look at the people in America. People shot because they're acting strange. They're in a moment of medical crisis, but they happen to be naked, running down the street, screaming. You will get shot. People don't understand it. People have been arrested. People have been, one guy knew he was having a breakdown, went to the hospital. They refused to treat him, went to another hospital, they refused to treat him, started banging on the door. They call the police, he got arrested, he got sent to prison, and it was only in prison that he got treated. And so this whole book has really opened up the whole, how particularly people of color are criminalized at a moment of crisis by being arrested and then being treated. Like for me, it was only when I showed the book to my consultant, she said, do you realize you were given three times the legal doses of tranquilizers? And I said, why is that? She said, well, it's, and then I, again, once the book got out, I had somebody contact me saying, this is standard practice. Because most people are afraid of big black men. So most times a large black man is sectioned, you will get knocked the fuck out. For no medical reason, other than we're scared of this big guy, let's just up the dose here. And that's all it was. So it just, all this stuff was coming out, all these stuff was coming at me, and I couldn't really process it. And I remember going into my therapist and just crying my eyes out, it was too much. It's too much. I can't cope with it. And funnily enough, my medical records that I find in the documentary, I hadn't opened those notes for two years since I got them, since filming it. But before I wrote the book, I knew where they were. They were in my flat in Vancouver. I knew exactly where they were. And once I decided to write the book, I remember flying back to shoots the next season of Supergirl. And we flew into quarantine because it was a couple of years ago. So you had 14 days on your own. And the first thing I did, walking the flat, got my medical records out and I read them cover to cover. And that was really tough. Because you're reading your disturbed self. Everything that I'd said done was recorded. So I'm reading all the stuff I did and getting flashes of moments that I thought, "Bark, that's where that memory comes from." Taking a piss in the middle of an office. Just the most weird stuff that I did and said, "Is it scary to know that you're capable of getting to that place?" Yes and no. And again, I think of myself thinking about the acting side of it. Now I've always had this ability to, not method, but I really throw myself into a character. And I love that. And I think maybe this part of me that having pushed myself, having let myself go, not many people go there. I literally went crazy. And I crossed the line into unacceptable behavior where your behavior is deemed. We have to take you away. Unsafe for yourself and for others. Sectioned. I've crossed that line. So for me now, I think, in acting, anything up to that line is fair game. Fair game. And I love it. And that's why I will push myself. And I look for characters who are like that, who do push. That's what makes acting so great for me and so exciting. Because I can behave like somebody else. But even reading about psychosis is someone that's never been through it. I'm going to be like, "It makes me realize that it's completely possible for me to find myself in that situation." Absolutely, anybody. And that's what, because I want to grow up with mental health. I thought it was something I haven't seen other people. And then you get a flavor of it, right, yourself. And you go, "Fuck. We can all. We all have mental health." And reading the stories of psychosis and how a very normal young man can quite quickly, apparently quickly. Very quickly. Yeah. But I mean, from what you've described, it's a series of events over time. But apparently very quickly, fall into that situation. In some respects, makes me realize that, you know... We are very highly strong individuals. I mean, the brain. Yeah. You know how incredible that is. It's an incredible muscle. An incredible muscle. There's thousands of firing electrodes. Thousands every day. Just going off in our brains. Some of them misfire. And some of them very quickly can lead to you taking your own life. And I know how having been there. I'm just lucky that... I think my doctor said it. He said, "Well, lucky David is a calm, essentially a clown." Because my psychosis played out in all sorts of silly ways. But that... I did everything that voice told me to do that night. Had that voice had told me to jump off Thames Bridge, I would have done it. I would have done it. So I've met people who the voice told them to throw themselves in front of them. As that young girl in the documentary said, "Throw yourself in front of the next white van." And she did. And it hit her. You know, it is a very powerful thing. And it can happen to anybody. Where do you find yourself today?


Where are you now? (01:17:44)

So your three or four years on now from that documentary coming out. And you've been on that journey as you described it. Of rebuilding the house. Yeah. I think it's taken me this long to... I think I've come through... I think I was really in pain. I didn't realize it at the time, but I think I was really... When the documentary went out, I was very, very vulnerable. And it really was painful. And it was uncomfortable. And I used... I would get very emotional. I'd be in Tesco's and somebody had come up to me as I bought my sausages. They'd say, "Saw your documentary." And I would just go. They'd go. I'd go. Right. Being reminded of it, they would make me cry because they'd tell me about their uncle. And they'd start going, "I don't know. It's something about the helplessness of seeing a loved one acting very out of character." Some of them don't recover because you don't understand it. So I used to find it very emotional. And I think I'd move through that period of vulnerability into a period of healing. And I think I'm in that healing period now. I said to you, if we'd have done this podcast last year, I don't think I'd have got through it like this. It would have... And every now and again, I find a rising emotional level as I'm talking about it now, because I know it sounds very weird. I feel like everyone must be sitting there thinking, "Karti's not sore." But I sort of dealt with that. Was there ever any regrets about doing that documentary? Yes. Really? Yes. Which all disappeared the morning after I went out. The regrets were all the night before. All the regrets were... And then I maybe afterwards, it was like, maybe I've said too much. Maybe people don't now seem, because since then I've done a lot more documentaries. And more documentaries than I have dramas. And I've been back in England now for a year. And in America I was playing leading characters. It's a three-dimensional, authoritative characters. And I haven't had a single offer of anything like that since coming back. And that's been really worrying. I suddenly thought, "I've said too much." Or maybe I'm not... And I thought, "Maybe I've crossed a line." But I don't care anymore. And I've sort of gone... I'm embracing who I am now. Sorry, sorry. Since you came back from America, you haven't had an offer to play leading characters. Not one. And you have a suspicion that that's to do with... I worried that. You talk about the whole way. There was a fear of that. I don't think that's the case. But there's some excuses and fears. Maybe I've said too much. Maybe people feel now. Or one reviewer said, "Oh, David, how all we see him now is in documentaries." I said, "But the only reason you see me in that is because I'm not going to play some shit role. I want complexity. I want a challenge." So I'm finding that in the world of documentaries. And I really enjoy doing that. This has never been done before. Ever. Keeping a diary has fundamentally changed my life. It's the single thing that has advanced my personal development more than anything else that I've done. I always say, "There's no personal development without self-awareness." You can read as many books as you like. But if you can't read yourself, you'll never learn a thing. This is the world's first diary that listens to you, understands you, and then provides you with tailored support from the world's leading experts in health, finance, work, and relationships so that you can overcome the things that are limiting you in order to reach your highest potential. A limited number of these diaries are going to go on sale in November and the waiting list is open now. So go to thediary.com and add your name if you want to come on this journey with me. Your career as an actor, and now as an entrepreneur, many other things as a director, unbelievably successful, unbelievably successful, against many, many odds.


Why you? (01:22:03)

Why are you? You have the talent, you're a class clown, you said that back in the school days and all these things, you're a funny guy, but that's not enough. I know lots of funny people. They're not actors. I don't know that's for me to say. This is why it's such a tough question because I actually think only you would read, people might have told you along the years, but I really think that when you look at your peers, that's when I've tried to figure myself out, is what makes me different from these other, my peers in my industry? And I go, "Oh, that's the thing I'm particularly good at, that bit there." It's interesting, though, because, you know, and again, maybe I'm oversharing, but my therapist, we talk, you know, sometimes when I first started to ask him about this, not living up to this ideal blackness, he said, "Well, part of the reason why you have been so successful is because you are this, you can go, you can be over here, you can be over there, you're formless." And I love that Bruce Lee will say, "It's not be like water." You pull water into cup, it's a cup, you pull water into bottle, it's a bottle. You pull water into a teacup, it's a teacup. I haven't tried to be one thing, and I think some actors come out and think, "I'm going to be like this, and I'm going to be like that, and I haven't." I changed my voice because I didn't want to play bromise all my life, so I learned the RP. I can do, if I wanted to do street, I can do street, which has always used to piss me off when I was young, because people go, "Oh, he's a bit too rather." It's a character, I play characters, but because you're a, I don't know, maybe black actors don't play characters, they just play black people. I play characters, and I think that, that USP that I've had, that I like playing characters has enabled me to change. And it's also what's constrained me because, as I said to you, when I came out of drum school, you would, you weren't an actor, you were a black actor. These days you were allowed to be an actor, John Boyega is an actor, Daniel Caluvia is an actor. He's not a black actor. When I came out, I was a black actor, and I found it so constricting. I'm more than this. I can play anything. And that's, you know, that's what I think is my, of my generation, that's probably one of the things that I, perhaps gave me my unique USP. It's funny the things that often give us our USPs are also entirely linked to the things that give us our difficulties and our struggles. And it seems to be the case from what you've said. It's funny because what I heard from one of that is that your versatility as an actor came from the versatility that you had to demonstrate in your real life as well. 100% and I think that my experience, particularly getting out, you know, getting out of a menthol institution, acting my way out of an institution, it's all been good training. And I think, you know, my crossing that line has given me that USB. That kid that came out of RADA, if you could have a chat with him, if he was sat here, you could just say a couple of sentences to him. The sentences that I would 100% tell him, and I tell this to all young actors. It's all young people. Be prepared for the tough times. People think it's going to be life's going to be roses and people think it's going to be easy. And yeah, things are great now, but be prepared for when things get a bit rocky, because they will get rocky. Tough time. You know yourself in business. It's not all about winning. Sometimes you learn your best lessons in failures. So I would just, and I'll get him to talk about this with my therapist, that I didn't take care of my younger self. I didn't take care of him. So now I try and take care of my younger self. And I always try and tell people, look after yourself. Really look after yourself, because what does that mean to you? Look after yourself. Control one, I can control. And don't, if I don't get a job, I don't get a job. There's nothing I can do about that. I can control how I feel about it. And just think it wasn't for me. And right now, as I said to you, there's thousands of things going my way and thousands of calls again. Acting maybe not, but that's okay. It'll come around. Maybe it'll come around. I can't control that. I can control what I can control. So I've just got to keep myself sharp, look after myself. Don't allow, I could easily allow myself to get down now, because I've not been working. But I'm busier than I've ever been outside of that, creating this company, looking to create other work, doing documentaries, meeting people. It's a very exciting time for me. And I wouldn't have had this time, had I been starring in some show. So there's benefits to having time on your hands. When you said that about controlling what you can control, it made me realize that this word popped into my head. I almost imagined myself stood at crossroads and one path was like control where I can control. And that says left acceptance. And on the other hand, the right turning is the resentment that you said your father had, which is that slowly, slowly, slow insidious build up of resentment towards the world. And it's a choice. You can't go that way. And I'm determined that's a go that way. Is keep it open, keep attracting good vibes. And at the moment, that's where it's leading. And it's a very exciting time. I've only been back a year as well. So who knows what's going to happen? We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the previous guest asks a question for the next guest. Before I ask you the question, I actually was really intrigued because I know you've started a production company.


Your production company (01:28:17)

What was the thinking behind that and how's that going? It's a new challenge. It's a new challenge. It's very exciting. And I think over the last couple of years, I've seen how some people, I've been involved in projects and I haven't exactly been run very well. And I think, well, I've now got the experience to know I can do that job. I know I'm bringing my A game, but if the people above me aren't bringing their A game, it's going to make it tough. So I'd like to bring excellence to everything that I do. That's what I think I do, is I bring excellence to everything I do. So I want to put some excellence out there. And what you want to make, what kind of things? Documentaries, dramas, give myself some good roles. Why not? But ask questions of the audience. Work in a different way. Create work that isn't being written yet. Why wait for somebody else to write it? Create it yourself. Yeah, I'm 57 years old. You look about 35. Thank you. And you say to yourself, well, why isn't that role come along yet? Create it yourself. And that's one thing the younger generation are doing, brilliantly. Starting their production companies, you know, valuing themselves. And I think that's something I really want to do. But myself at the top, be the boss man, like you. It comes with its costs, but that's a conversation for another time.


Audience Interaction

The last guests question (01:29:52)

The question that was left for you. What is a personal legacy you want to leave for yourself/children? I would say, crack up in the universe, you know, inspire those around me. An inspirational figure. In what you do. Be an example, in what you do. I'll give you an example of that. I've just been casting this film as a director. And two leading roles, two black people. All these young black kids came in the door, young black actors. And the first thing they said, oh my God. Man, I used to watch you when I was at school. Thank you so much for, I had no, I was feeling, I'd probably be feeling really depressed that morning. But even without me knowing, just being there. Just by doing what I did, I inspired that kid to think about even becoming an actor. Just even think about it. So I would say to, you know, that inspire people by your actions. Crack up in the universe because we're still living in an age where we're the first, I was the first black actor, I thought, this was the first black person to, we're still living in that age. I think there's a whole legacy to leave, a whole legacy to open up. Be an example, not just as your generation, but as future generations. Well, David, I have to say you're certainly that, you're certainly an example. You're certainly that inspiration and that role model to so many people. So if that is your objective, then I think you've already achieved it in a tremendous way. So I know that you've got so much more to do and I have a sneaking suspicion based on your tenacity and your, which has been present since you were a very young man, that you'll find a way to crack up in the universe in any way that you desire. I have absolutely no doubt about that in fact. Thank you, I hope to do that. That's my plan. Thank you for inspiring me as well. And I don't act, but watching a black man rise so high and achieve so much is incredibly inspiring for me. And your models are varied across industries and you're certainly one of them. But you know, I'm right back at you because you inspired, you likewise in yourself inspire people. And, you know, I was listening to say, listen to your Chris Camara piece, which was beautiful by the way. Thank you. And hearing how he's inspired people. You know, a lot of the people who go through that, they don't think it, they can't even imagine the world, but even just by being yourself, you inspire people. So let's right back at you. Well, thank you David. It means a ton coming from you. And I'm sure this conversation we're going to continue off there in various forms. So thank you. Thank you for your inspiration.


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