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Oprah calls Anna Deavere Smith "the definition of class." You know this smart playwright, university professor and actor from The West Wing and her roles in the films Philadelphia and The American President. Recently, Anna was a guest at Oprah's Legends Ball, honoring extraordinary women. She's now sharing her advice on making a living in the arts in her book Letters to a Young Artist.

Two key qualities of an artist, Anna says, are presence and inquisitiveness. Oprah has presence, Anna says. "It's the feeling that the person on stage is sitting right next to you," Anna explains. Another important trait of an artist, Anna says, is curiosity. "Being an artist of any kind—whether you're just a guardian of the human spirit or whether you're trying to create art that is meaningful in the world—is about being insatiably curious."
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FROM: Eight Women Oprah Wants You to Know
Published on October 17, 2005

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