André Holland (Moonlight, Castle Rock) on achieving peace – ‘Anyone can do it’

Hello Film Doctor friends.

Today we share with you some words from High Flying Bird, A Wrinkle in Time, Moonlight, Selma and Castle Rock actor André Holland, who travelled from Paris – where he’s filming La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s new Netflix musical series The Eddy – to join the 20th anniversary London celebrations of an international day of peace, Peace One Day, which Film Doctor attended on Saturday.

Peace day takes place every September 21st and, thanks to founder Jeremy Gilley, was adopted by the US congress and every UN member state and has so far instigated a total of 88 life-saving and humanitarian activities by 28 organisations in 31 countries.

André read an excerpt of civil rights activist Martin Luther King’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech for ‘Words of Peace‘ – an afternoon of serenity-inspiring literature with fellow actors and Peace One Day ambassadors Mark Rylance, Jude Law, Emily Watson, Joely Richardson, Juliet Rylance on the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – before grabbing five minutes for a Film Doctor chat.


André Holland in Moonlight


Many of your projects – like Moonlight and Selma – are conscientious works. Is that something you’ve always sought?

I grew up in Alabama and my parents were very active in the civil rights struggle of the ‘60s, so I was raised with this idea of civic responsibility. With the work that I’m lucky enough to do, I want it to always feel connected to who I am as a person and I am someone who strives to be an ambassador for peace.

The wonderful thing about acting is that you get a chance to learn about history but then go a step further and learn how to take that history personally. I’m often attracted to things that relate to my upbringing or have something to say about the kind of person I aspire to be.


What can an average person do in their daily lives to achieve peace?

One of the things that struck me today is what Mark (Rylance) said: “we are often at war with ourselves” and that we should try to work on our own to find peace within ourselves before trying to solve issues outside of ourselves. That’s one thing we can all do. I, personally, could do a better job of being gentler with myself and more understanding of myself and try to eliminate the war and violence within me.

There was something said about compassion and about compassion being as powerful or more powerful than intellect. That resonates with me in a big way. Being a compassionate human and citizen is a way to bring about peace.



How did your journey with Peace One Day start?

I’ve known Juliet Rylance for six or seven years through The Knick and have heard about it peripherally for a while. Earlier this year she reached out with David Conrad and Mark and told me what it was about and Peace One Day is exactly the kind of thing I’d like to be involved with.


Some people’s view is that of “well if such-and-such a person isn’t doing something, why should I? Nobody’s given me anything. What has the world ever done for me?” What would you say to somebody feeling that way?

It’s not about the world bending to accommodate you but rather what small things you can do to improve someone else’s life. Think about what you can do for your fellow man, for your children. I think it’s imperative that we all do our part in climate change, with violence, with war – all the things we’re struggling with.

I think what today shows you is that anyone can do it. All of the Words of Peace speeches were by everyday folks who were doing their part. If we all do a little bit we can achieve a lot. If we sit it out, I don’t see things changing.


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