Actor Billy Zane Gives A Shout Out for Best-Selling Book, Decolonizing Wealth

In 1998 I saw the movie Titanic, starring Billy Zane - more than 12 times.  It had a profound impact on my life at that time for many reasons.  For one I was attending a very strict Pentecostal seminary (yep!) that forbid its students from seeing Hollywood movies.   My church was very anti-Hollywood. I was on the cusp of figuring out my own life and path and felt caught between two worlds, much like the character Rose in the movie – the religious path that had been set before me and a curiosity to explore the outside the bubble I had grown up in.  I had lots of questions and my world was spiraling.

Later in life, I felt the same internal tensions when I joined the field of philanthropy as a young, Native American professional. You see, the field of philanthropy and finance is elite, privileged, and VERY white.  Foundations and financial institutions let a few token people of color in, because they see that we have a different quality of access to our communities and because we have some type of “lived experience" wisdom that they want, but we're expected to completely assimilate. On a daily basis I was reminded that I was represented the legacy of some deceased, wealthy white person…. Imagine you married into a very wealthy family that is all about keeping up appearances. You are expected to conform to their behavior and their way of acting and interacting and moving through the world. That’s what it’s like. If you do not comply, they will view you the way Rose’s mother (played by Francis Fisher) stared at Jack (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) in the movie Titanic.  She “looked at him like an insect. A dangerous insect which must be squashed quickly.”  If you contradict them, you will be reviled or silenced. If you bring too much of yourself, they will push you out. If you reveal any of the craziness or dark secrets that run in the family, they will excommunicate you. 

I was thrilled to receive this shout out from actor Billy Zane for Decolonizing Wealth. Through this work we aim to support the radical imagining of a different kind of world - one that we can all be who we are - and one that dismantles the global bleaching of sameness - and one that provides wealth for everyone.


Edgar Villanueva