• Golden Globe Awards

Whoopi Goldberg, 1990 on Comedy – Out of the Archives

Whoopi Goldberg stars in and is a co-producer of Till (2022) written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu.
In 1986 she won a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Drama for her movie debut in The Color Purple directed by Steven Spielberg from the 1982 novel by Alice Walker. She won a second Golden Globe in 1991 as Best Supporting Actress for playing a psychic in Ghost starring Patrick Swayze, and later an Academy Award for the same performance. 
During an exclusive 1990 interview about Ghost, she talked to the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press about her work as a stand-up comedian, and the importance of speaking your mind.  The actress/comedian continues to be outspoken as a host of the daytime talk show The View since 2007.
Whoopi Goldberg explained why she never consulted a psychic herself, despite playing one in Ghost: “We’re in Hollywood where everybody has their personal psychic, but I don’t go to fortune tellers or psychics, because it’s my feeling that, if spirits are going to come for you, they’ll come on their own, no need to open the door for them. I prefer to let them find me and not go looking for them, because you never know what’s going to come get you. I don’t believe that people die unless we forget them, I prefer to believe that people stay with us, because I have a lot of friends who have died and I think of them often, and as long as I do that, I feel that they’re still with me. I guess that’s a form of spirituality.”
When asked about her spiritual and religious beliefs, she replied: “I’m a firm believer in multi philosophies, because you can’t ever really make a valid decision about things unless you’ve looked at it from all aspects; and it’s important for me, because of the kind of work that I do for myself on the stage, that I have a working knowledge of other cultures and religions that prevail in the world. Even though I don’t always agree with other philosophies, I find that it’s interesting to point them out, to bring it forward, because, if you put it out there, it will suddenly make sense to you, and you’ll elicit a response in people. So I like juggling different information, because I get bored easily and that makes my life more interesting.”
In the midst of a successful movie career, the stand-up comedian continued to perform her one-woman shows on the stage: “I haven’t stopped working, I just got off a two-month tour of Australia and New Zealand, and I’m going to keep doing everything that interests me. It’s real important for me to keep my sense of self in order to continue on. This is a tough business, much tougher than anybody will tell you when you enter into it, and if I don’t write my shows, take myself out there and do my work, I’ll never know what’s going on out in Idaho and all those kinds of places. So that will never stop, knocking on wood.”
Starting in 1986 Whoopi Goldberg hosted several comedy specials titled Comic Relief with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal to benefit the homeless and continued to be devoted to that cause and to many others: “As far as the homeless are concerned, the situation has not changed, so it’s made me much sadder. I thought that the government was gonna take a little more interest than they have, and they didn’t. I mean, the idea that you could feed millions of people on what we spend on one Stealth bomber just bothers me. How many Stealth bombers do we really need? And what are we protecting, if the people are living in the streets? I’m involved in a lot of different things, like free choice, the First Amendment, children with AIDS, because they are important to me. It’s very frightening to hear some of our legislators, Congressmen and Senators, say what they’ve said about the AIDS crisis. It’s a health epidemic and that’s the only way we can look at it, because it’s killing all kinds of people, not just gay people, it’s killing children. So I want somehow to keep that information in front of people, that AIDS is a health issue. I believe that one person can make a difference, that you can save the world, so I’m doing my little numbers, trying to spread a little good cheer and hope.”
Goldberg did not believe that, as a comedian, she should censor herself for fear of being perceived as offensive: “There is a lot of fervor about people like Roseanne and Andrew Dice Clay, with all these groups getting together trying to ban them. We have people trying to ban artwork because they think it’s offensive. I don’t censor myself at all, I’m a firm believer that, because I live in this country, I can say and do the things that I think are important, whether they are offensive to people or not. And it’s very subjective, so I always tell people, ‘If you don’t like my work, don’t come. If it’s going to bother you and give you nightmares, stay home, go see somebody else.’ I don’t think it has as much to do with me being a woman as it has to do with personal freedom, I see the progression of these things and they frighten me. We’re into book burning and banning of music and paintings. It’s so frightening here in the U.S., where we scream democracy while we sell arms to people, in the fight for democracy. So no, I don’t censor myself at all, as a matter fact, I’m probably getting a little more bold just to see who’s out there.”
She affirmed that the right to free speech is quintessentially American: “America is made up of people who have the right to say things, whether I agree with them or not, and I want to maintain that right, because should I turn into one of these people who say, ‘you shouldn’t say that because it offends me,’ somebody’s going to turn around and say, ‘well, Whoopi, you offend me,’ and so on down the line. For myself, there are some things that I probably would not do in my stage shows; depending on what kind of role it was, I might consider whether it was something I wanted to do or not.  But I will fight for your right to do it.”