Bill Duke On The Day He Stopped Taking Drugs

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Bill Duke, Actor/Filmmaker/Author:  True story and very few people knew this ever happened.

I’m sitting at my monitor one day and the assistant says “Do you know who is standing behind you?” I said “What are you talking about?” “Gordon Parks.” I said “Get out of here, I’m working. Stop playing.” He said “No, Gordon Parks is standing right behind you.” He’s one of my heroes. So I turn around and he says “Don’t get up, don’t get up.” And he walks to me and he puts his hand on my shoulder and he says “Never stop.” I just looked at him and…[is speechless]. He walked away and I was like…you’re given signs from the Universe, you know and he was one of the things that propelled me into continuing because whenever you get depressed or something and you want to stop and you don’t stop because of those people who came along and said “Don’t you ever think of stopping.” Because I’m not going to lie to you there are times I wanted to give up because it’s like hard. But then you think of the people who loved you enough to encourage you, you don’t stop. And it’s also your family’s legacy. Could you justify stopping? Hell yeah! Is it unfair? Yes. If you don’t fit into certain boxes is it prejudice? Yes. Are there people who don’t like you because of the color of your skin? Yes. Are there people who don’t like you because you are as smart as them? Yes.

Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and behind the Camera by Bill Duke

I mean if the boogeyman has got his foot on your neck, you have one of two choices. He’s ten times bigger than you, he’s 15 foot tall and my neck is cracking, I might as well surrender. That’s one choice.

Or…if his foot is in your mouth you can bite his toe. I choose toe biting because you know what? The bogeyman’s toe taste good. It really does. It has those little…it’s meaty and chunky…[imitates eating] it’s good.

Film Courage: It’s a light snack. Has meditation helped you notice gratitude? Because I think some people see signs that do tell them to keep going and it sounds like you’ve taken certain things to heart and know that this wasn’t just a coincidence or I was meant to hear this. I was meant to have this hand on my shoulder. I was meant to have someone take away my journal in what seems like a bad thing and she reads it but then something great comes of it.

Bill: Meditation saved my life. I was taught meditation (Transcendental Meditation – TM) by a good friend of mine when I was in a Broadway play and doing very well but I had gotten into drugs because there are times in which the struggle is so difficult, I was working and challenges and I just overloaded. And I ended up at a point where in a Broadway play I’d be late to work and they told me “Don’t be late anymore.” And I came late again and they said your understudy is going in and I got pissed off and my friend who saw this said “Bill, you’re sinking fast. You have to do something.” I said “Like what?” See says “I know you like the drugs and alcohol but try meditation.” I said “Those whoo-whoo people. Get out of here.”

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So it got worse and then she said “Try it.” Okay, I’ll try it. So I tried it a couple of times, it was interesting but I was still taking drugs and alcohol. And then after awhile she said “I’ll tell you what, I’ll make you a deal.” She said “If you meditate for six weeks without taking any drugs or alcohol of any kind and if you still want drugs and alcohol after six weeks, I’ll buy you an ounce of anything you want.” And I’m thinking “Boy! An ounce of anything I want? Are you kidding me? I’ll take this bet with you.” I just knew it wasn’t going to work.

The first two weeks I felt something like…more ease, less stress. Second and third week, more focus. Fourth and fifth week, the peace that I was getting out of the drugs and alcohol, I was getting through meditation and more. I was getting a deeper sense of something I can’t even explain.

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I haven’t touched drugs or alcohol since that day and that was in 1974. I became a TM teacher. It’s changed my life too. I can’t even tell you, it’s hard to explain. I could tell you more stories about what I’ve been through but that was God working again showing me Transcendental Meditation. It changed my life for my own salvation. The lady who asked me to turn around and Miss Walker and Dr. Hall, its…I recognize these things and people are going to think I’m crazy because “God is doing this.” “What does your God look like?” “I don’t know? I know he is there. I trust because there are things that have happened that I know.”

I’ll give you another example, it’s in my book.

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Bill Duke directing Lou Diamond Phillips in CREATED EQUAL



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Watch it on Amazon here!

If you’re not quite ready to let go of the Halloween spirit, new indie feature film Mandao of the Dead is now available on Amazon VOD.

Mandao (Man-Day-Oh) of the Dead is about Jay Mandao and his nephew-in-law Jackson who use astral projection to reverse a ghost’s death on Halloween.

This astral comedy is the second feature film Written and Directed by Scott Dunn and produced by Gina Gomez Dunn. It was filmed in 10 days with a production budget of just $13k. The duo’s first feature film, Schlep won Best Comedy/Dramedy at the Hollywood Boulevard Festival and was nominated in 5 different categories at the FirstGlance Film Festival. Schlep is also available on AmazonMandao of the Dead will be released on iTunes and DVD/Blu-ray in January 2019.