1. Damon Wayans and I would rate movies using snaps. The fun of In Living Color was exposing black culture, and in that sketch, gay culture, that I don’t think America had ever seen at that point. I had already done Dreamgirls on Broadway, and being in a musical and working with other performers who were gay, I was privy to that vocabulary backstage. They were being themselves. So a lot of it was hijacked from what I heard in the theater and what was permeating around. Now at that time, if a gay person was going to read you — to tell you off — it was always accompanied by snaps. Now I don’t know if it was a gay thing, but it was also a very black thing.

    — David Alan Grier on the snaps from In Living Color

  2. David Alan Grier

    snaps

    In Living Color

  1. One time in 1965, our family all piled in the car and we drove across the country to California. The car broke down in the salt flats. I remember going to a gas station and my father gets out, because our air conditioner was broken. He must have been in there for 10 minutes. He got in, ashen-faced, and quietly said, ‘Everyone stay in the car. They don’t like Negroes here.’ That was a rude awakening.

    We had to spend the night in this small desert town. My father and mother told us not to play in the pool, to stay in the room. My brother had a skateboard. I remember we wanted to play. It was bewildering. It was not psyche-shattering because I didn’t grow up in that kind of world. My grandmother was born in 1900, and she would regale me with tales I call Little House on the Prairie tales, but they were tales of segregated and racist America growing up in Alabama and Mississippi, where she came from. … Our household was infused with black history. I grew up in a home and in a world in which you can do anything. We were all expected to go to college. My father was a doctor.

    — David Alan Grier on what his father taught him about being African-American in the US

  2. David Alan Grier

    Porgy and Bess

    African-American history

  1. Why would he be obsessed with Porgy and Bess? My father contracted polio on a troop train in Korea. He’s a retired psychiatrist. And all of a sudden, I go, ‘Of course. Now I understand. He’s seen all these productions of Porgy and Bess, and he ultimately came to the show. Which, boom — this was him, in a lot of ways, to have this opera depict [Porgy] on stage. In a lot of ways, this was an aspect of him that he saw, and it became infused with so much more for me.

    David Alan Grier on his father’s obsession with the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

  2. David Alan Grier

    Porgy and Bess

    polio

  1. David Alan Grier, on acting: “I started acting at the University of Michigan in my sophomore year. A friend of mine had his own theater company, and he jumped me in like I was in a gang. And once I came in, it was just that simple. For the first time in my life, I felt, ‘This is a career, this is a life that I think I can grow old doing.’ It was love at first sight. I loved being on stage and reading these plays. It was great.” View in High-Res

    David Alan Grier, on acting: “I started acting at the University of Michigan in my sophomore year. A friend of mine had his own theater company, and he jumped me in like I was in a gang. And once I came in, it was just that simple. For the first time in my life, I felt, ‘This is a career, this is a life that I think I can grow old doing.’ It was love at first sight. I loved being on stage and reading these plays. It was great.”

  2. david alan grier

  1. [My father] got in, ashen-faced, and quietly said, ‘Everyone stay in the car. They don’t like Negroes here.’ That was a rude awakening.

    — David Alan Grier, on what his father taught him about being African-American in the U.S.

  2. david alan grier