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Forest Whitaker Recalls ‘Humiliating’ Shoplifting Snafu

Amy Graves/WireImage/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In his latest film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Forest Whitaker stars as a long-serving White House butler who experiences the Civil Rights movement from inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Whitaker, 52, is no stranger to that tumultuous era. In an interview with Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers, the Oscar winner discussed growing up in Texas during the 1960s, knowing Black Panthers and being bused to their free breakfasts.

While talking about America’s contemporary racial landscape, Travers asked Whitaker how he felt when he was frisked and falsely accused of shoplifting by a deli employee earlier this year in New York City.

“I was angered,” said Whitaker. “It’s a humiliating thing for someone to come and do that. It’s attempted dis-empowerment. For me it just spurred me into action.”

Whitaker also said he channeled his emotions into his non-profit organization, PeaceEarth Foundation, which seeks to transform violent communities into safe and productive ones.

For more of Forest Whitaker’s interview on with Peter Travers, in which the actor talks about his method acting and working with Oprah Winfrey, click here.

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