Clifton Duncan calls himself a “pot-smoking, pro-choice atheist.”
The versatile actor suggested his recent appearance at The Mises Institute made little sense on those terms alone. The non-partisan group promotes individual freedom and Austrian-style economics in the style of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard.
We’re living in times that upend traditional alliances, something Duncan alluded to during his July 24th speech at the group’s campus in Auburn, Alabama.
Duncan’s creative resume is impressive, but he didn’t travel South to simply recite his bona fides. He came because his beliefs effectively ended his entertainment career.
He refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine as his bosses demanded. Now, he’s forging a new life outside of Hollywood’s ecosystem.
The classically trainer actor began his speech by sharing his professional accomplishments, from graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from New York University’s Graduate Acting Program to earning praise from Broadway legends like Joel Grey and Stephen Sondheim.
He made frequent guest appearances on broadcast TV shows, too, part of a profitable, fulfilling career.
“I don’t say all of that to brag,” Duncan said. “On a deeper level, I’m bringing up these achievements…as a source of great pain and resentment.”
The professional life he worked so hard to achieve may be over for good.
I’ve been amazed at the response to the Mises speech, I did not expect it.
I’m glad it has resonated with so many people.
Thank you for all the support and for the kind messages ❤️
— Clifton Duncan (She/Her) (@cliftonaduncan) July 27, 2022
Duncan, who said he’s “staring down the barrel of 40 years of age,” is waiting tables for a living again, much like he did nearly 20 years ago.
“I no longer have a powerful manager … I no longer have the prospect of earning a five-figure weekly salary…working on TV or on Broadway,” he said, adding he is “shut out” of Hollywood.
“Why have I gone from having a billboard with my likeness on it in the middle of Times Square, winning stand-out notices in the New York Times and guest starring on network television…. to where I am now?
“I refuse to allow any employer or, by extension, the government to act as my health care provider and to dictate what I inject into my body,” he said. “I refused to be bullied or coerced or shamed into taking a medical product I neither want or need.”
Duncan called vaccine mandates a “grotesque and egregious state overreach,” adding the pandemic changed the way he saw his country.
“I’m greatly disturbed by the precedent which has been set wherein government officials and bureaucrats can take it upon themselves to determine who is essential, and who is not … who can operate his business, and who cannot,” he said. “And in some cases, decide who is allowed to travel, and who is not.”
Duncan admits he paid a steep price for refusing the vaccination, from losing “many friends and former colleagues” to his career’s unofficial termination.
He would do it all over again if he could.
“I’ll never regret standing up and forcibly saying no to a repressive, nonsensical, unethical and ultimately unnecessary encroachment on our freedoms,” he said, adding he’s forged powerful connections with new people over the past few months and now hosts a popular podcast.
“Once I began saying what I really think, my reach quickly exploded far beyond what I had achieved chasing a career as an actor … and I found new relationships with some truly incredible and interesting people.”
Andrew Klavan’s Daily Wire podcast played clips from Duncan’s speech, noting how important pop culture is to the world around us.
The vaccines, Klavan accurately noted, didn’t live up to the pre-release hype. So when someone like Duncan points that out, the progressive powers-that-be make sure his voice, his perspective, are punished.
“You have to censor anyone who points out the truth,” Klavan said.