Morgan Freeman. (YouTube)
Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who made his breakthrough in feature films in 1980 at the age of 43, said that race does not play a role in whether people succeed in U.S. society today and, when told that some people say they can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps, he said, "Bullsh**! Everybody can!"
During an interview with host Don Lemon on CNN Tonight, Lemon said, “Do you think poverty is part of genetics, to answer your question?"
Freeman, 80, said, “No, you can't say that. I don't think wealth, personally, I don't think wealth and genetics have anything to do with each other, actually.”
“If you're born in the U.S., it really doesn't matter the condition of your birth,” said Freeman. “What matters is what you inherit from your nurturing, from your environment, whether or not you are -- I mean, this is from the standpoint of having been born with little. Here, you can always get out of that. Poverty is just –”
Later in the interview, Lemon asked, “Do you think race plays a part in wealth distribution?"
Freeman said, "Today? No."
Lemon said, "You don't?"
Freeman replied, "“No. No, I don’t. You and I, we’re proof. Why would race have anything to do with it? Put your mind to what you want to do and go from there.”
Freeman, who has starred in 50 films since 1980, has an estimated net worth of $90 million, according to Atlantablackstar.com. CNN's Don Lemon has an estimated net worth of $3 million and an annual salary of $1 million.
“I was born in Memphis, Tennessee [in 1937]," said Freeman. "I had a long haul from where I came from, to here. But here we are. So proof is in -- proof of the pudding is in the eating. Here we sit at the dining table.”
Lemon replied, “But it's hard to -- when you say that to people because they say, ‘Here you go with the pull yourself up by the bootstraps thing. You're just being respectable. Not everybody can do that."
"Bullsh**! Everybody can!" said Freeman.
Actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in a publicity image for the 2007 film, The Bucket List.
He continued, “Not that it doesn't – [take] courage. Courage is the key to life itself. A lot of people were born in situations, ‘I'll never get out of this.’ So they won't. I say to people who say, ‘Well, I would like to have done so and so and so and so.’
"Well, you could have done it. ‘I couldn't get out of here.’"
"Man, the bus runs every day," said Freeman.
Morgan Freeman lives in Charleston, Mississippi, and New York City. He owns the blues club Ground Zero in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor in Million Dollar Baby. He also has won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actros Guild Award. Freeman has four children and is divorced.