Oprah Talks to Julie Taymor
Oprah: Your creativity is a gift. Does it come naturally, or can the rest of us tap into what I see in you?
Julie: Both. Creativity is a gift, but if you don't know how to use it you might not even know it's there. There's a lot of creativity in the air, but it's meaningless if you're not open to receiving it. For instance, I have asked my partner and the composer I work with, Elliot Goldenthal, where he gets his talent. He says, "It's not me—the music is already there. I just know how to snap it up." In a way, artists are shamans, facilitators who take what's there, channel it through themselves, then put it out there for people to appreciate. Growing up I had amazing parents who really let me be creative and free. I was the youngest of three by six years, the child who was the outsider and observer. When I went off to Boston to act, I was very young—10. And my parents didn't fear that. They had the respect to let me make my choices.
Oprah: Didn't you grow up in a suburban, Beaver Cleaver family? I saw a picture of your house, and I thought, "Gee, Beav would have been happy there!"
Julie: Not quite Beaver Cleaver but, yes, suburbia. But every day after school, I went to act in Boston, where I met kids from varied social and racial backgrounds.
Oprah: I have a friend, Dr. Phil, who says that everybody has at least ten defining moments in their life. For you, wasn't one of those moments when you went to India at age 15?
Julie: Yes—India and Sri Lanka. Going to the Far East was my first eye-opener to a world vastly different from my own. Then when I was 16 I lived in Paris for a year and studied mime. At 21 I went to Indonesia. I had planned to go for three months, but I stayed four years. I just got lost in the culture. And I put together a theater troupe [Teatr Loh].
Oprah: And you were still so young.
Julie: Very young. And yet because my parents had given me tremendous respect, trust, and freedom as a child, I knew how to take responsibility for myself. If you're constantly being told "No, don't do that" or "We don't trust you," you can't develop that responsibility.
Oprah: Your mother has said, "I always believed Julie wasn't going to do anything destructive to herself." That's why she could give you the freedom that has created your sense of independence.
Julie: Yes. Some people think giving a child freedom means spoiling the child, but it has nothing to do with materialism. My parents gave me a lot of support—they gave me the crayons and the materials—but their support was there to help me do things myself.