She won us as The Cosby Show's Clair Huxtable, but Phylicia Rashad was trained first for the theater. She says it was her mother, a poet, who gave her a sense of duty about exploring her full potential. That exploration began in earnest when she moved to New York after graduating from Howard University, but as valuable as that time was, she wasn't particularly aware of all the opportunities available to her. "It's interesting how you wander through things. Grace is always present, and there comes a time when you really must be conscious of that presence and turn your face to it," she says. "Otherwise, you're just walking blindly through life." 

Rashad's letter is to her 21-year-old self:

Dear Phylicia,

Romantic involvement distracts you and can blind you to what's really in front of you. And what really is in front of you? You are. You don't even know yourself yet. You think you know and you want to assert that you do, now that you're a certain age, but you don't. What's in front of you is a whole world of experiences beyond your imagination. Put yourself, and your growth and development, first. There are long-term repercussions to what you're doing now. Everything you do, every thought you have, every word you say creates a memory that you will hold in your body. It's imprinted on you and affects you in subtle ways—ways you are not always aware of. With that in mind, be very conscious and selective.

With high hopes for you,

More sage advice from Phylicia Rashad on The Oprah Winfrey Show


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