The Gift Paul Newman Gave Me

10/29/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Eve Ensler Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist

I write from Bukavu, Congo.

Paul Newman -- here's what he and Joanne gave me and I suspect many in the world -- the gift of confidence.

They were the perfect parents. I was 23. I was depressed and fragile and hardly here in this world. I was writing and writing as a way of survival. They took me under their wing. They pushed me and fed me and criticized my script with red pencils, they nurtured me and encouraged me to be funny. To always be funny. But mainly, they believed in me.

They seriously believed in me and because of this I came to believe in myself. They never asked for credit. They did not hold on after I had found myself. They did not curtail my independence. They have reappeared at all the crucial moments in my life in the many years that followed. They have always been in my corner.

Here's what they taught me. Generosity. They taught me that if you have or make money, you are not special, just lucky. They taught me to never make people beg or jump through hoops because that implies you have a hoop and you do not have a hoop, you have money.

They taught me that the only real happiness comes from giving. And because they lived everything they spoke, they taught me about integrity.

I can't imagine this world without Paul Newman. But I know his generosity, his gift of confidence lives surely in many of us and if there is a way to appreciate him, it is in giving deeper and deeper.

Eve Ensler is a Playwright (The Vagina Monologues) and Founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls.