“Our Deepest Fear” Quote (Akeelah and the Bee)

By , November 21, 2007

In the movie Akeelah and the Bee, a quotation is displayed on a framed certificate in the home-office of a main character, and the words are incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela, as part of his 1994 Inauguration Speech as President of South Africa.

In the film, “Akeelah” reads the entire quote and attribution out loud. It is a moving moment in the film, and arguably summarizes the core “message” of the movie.

Alas, Nelson Mandela did not include any such language in his Inauguration Speech, and almost certainly never spoke or wrote these words at all.

In fact, this “quote” is adapted from a passage written by writer Marianne Williamson, from her book A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles.

Here is the (incorrect) version of the quote from the movie:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”


Here is the “true” complete quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (Harper Collins, 1992; from Chapter 7, Section 3)


Proper punctuation for the “shortened” quote (used in the movie) would include “ellipses” to indicate where words were omitted:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? . . . Your playing small does not serve the world. . . . We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. . . . And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” — Marianne Williamson

Here is the entire quote, with the “edited out” language marked with “strikethrough lines” to emphasize the changes from the original:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

11 Responses to ““Our Deepest Fear” Quote (Akeelah and the Bee)”

  1. Anna says:

    Hi Im Anna and i just finished watching Akeelah and The Spelling Bee and I thougt I really liked this poem i think it has the meaning of my life. I read it and i understood and i found out the poem was me Im gonna change my life after reading this and thank you very much I really apreciate this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Vicky says:

    Hi – I watched Akeelah and The Bee yesterday. It was a very touching story with lots of ‘Aha” moments. I love the way the village got involved with helping Akeelah spell. And I truly love the quote on the Dr.’s wall. The part about letting our light shine gives permission to others to let their light shine was epic. Loved it.

  3. Shakila says:

    While Watching Akeelah and the bee … Overhearing this poem Really touched me Especially at this time in my life as a young adult searching for my identity in this crazy world called earth … to make a long story short this has given me the permission to be all i can be and don’t FEAR what God And The future has in store for me .. live life to the fullest and never ever be less than what i could have been !
    Stay blessed everyone !

  4. Nthati Michel says:

    This quote will build many of those who dont believe in themselves….this movie has motivated me as a student at this year after so many years of its production. It has inspired me to carry on, no matter what and be independant.

  5. DeBora Gross says:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    August 3, 2015 at 4:48 am
    Watching Akeelah and the Bee was a life changing event for me. Realizing that it is never too late to achieve success and to attain your dreams has inspired me to be the light I was sent here to be. Since there are no coincidences, I was meant to see this movie bc for years I have been rejected and my conclusion was “My light was just to bright,” not understanding I was on to something. Now I realize I have been about my FATHER’s business all ALONG. I was showing up so ALL WOULD SHINE, and that they too, would shine bright and be that light!

  6. DeBora Gross says:

    Watching Akeelah and the Bee was a life changing event for me. Realizing that it is never too late to achieve success and to attain your dreams, has inspired me to be the light I was sent here to be. Since there are no coincidences, I was meant to see this movie because for years I have been rejected and my conclusion was “My light was just to bright,” not understanding I was on to something. Now I realize I have been about my FATHER’s business all ALONG. I was showing up so ALL WOULD SHINE and be that light to shine so bright!

  7. rose says:

    i once participated in spelling bee here in cameroon i must say it was fabulous i wish to return

  8. Eude Romaric A. says:

    I watched Akeelah and the Bee first in 2014.Since then I’m never tired from wacthing. Franckly this is not just a film. It is a powerfull tool of self development.I can’t liste here every principles of achievement of any project meant in the film. I recommend it. Love it. Thanks for this

  9. Annica says:

    Very inspiring quote.

  10. Olanrewaju says:

    Great film very inspiring. I made children memorized the quote, though now I know that the quote is not complete. Now that I known the title of the, will look for the book to buy. Be rest assured that I will teach this correct version. Thanks.

  11. Cherno Ebrima Jallow says:

    I watched the movie for a while now perhaps in 2014…I must confess that the quote got me tongue tied. I had to replay that part several times. It’s absolutely inspiring. It tells us everything about the struggles we go through but more importantly that they are worth going for. It has changed me positively. ..
    A student in the Gambia..
    Cheers!!

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