Olympia Dukakis: I hope sharing past drug use and suicidal thoughts helps others

Olympia Dukakis has said she hopes discussing her experiences with drug use and thoughts of taking her own life will be helpful to those going through similar things.

The veteran actress, 89, who won an Oscar in 1988 for Moonstruck, said it is the responsibility of those that survive to offer hope to others who are suffering.

She speaks frankly about her experiences in the new documentary Olympia, directed and produced by Harry Mavromichalis, who was a graduate student at NYU Film School in New York, while Dukakis was teaching there.

She told the PA news agency: “What I loved about this documentary was that Harry wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and then include these conversations in the film.

“Topics that are either taboo or that make people uncomfortable are usually left out of films like this. Sharing these experiences is cathartic for one’s self but I hope that they’re also helpful for other people who might be going through a similar experience.

“There are too many LGBTQ kids who still take their lives. There are too many young people who get overwhelmed with life’s struggles. There are too many people who are dealing with drug addiction.

“It’s important to know that you’re not alone and it’s a responsibility for those of us who have fought these battles and survived to be a small beacon of hope for those who are currently trying to figure things out.”

Dukakis also described feeling like she did not belong as a child and said it went on to inform her career later on.

She said: “It informed who I am and how I went about living my life. My parents were the first and most important ‘battle’ I had to fight. What they expected from me versus how I chose to live.

“Also, I grew up in a neighbourhood where I wasn’t accepted. Luckily I learned to stand my ground no matter what. No one was going to control my life or define me.

“Of course I didn’t realise how much anger I had inside of me. It was through acting that I realised that. Throughout my life, my anger had become a motor that gave me strength and gave me confidence. But at times it was also paralysing.

“Thank God for acting, teaching and therapy. But at my age, now, I just want to have a good time.”

Dukakis revealed she has been cheered by the strides forward made for women in the entertainment industry over the course of her career, and added: “I think things are finally moving in the right direction, both for women and for minorities.

“We are far from reaching our goal but there’s a forward movement that’s real and strong. You’re seeing more women as directors and decision-makers and that’s a great thing.

“I’m happy that I’ve lived a long enough life so I could witness the growth that has occurred. These are inspiring times and I hope they will lead to more inclusion, equal pay and opportunity and a lot more great films from groups that have been silenced in the past.”

Olympia will premiere in the UK and Ireland on Facebook Live on July 10 at 6pm

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