Addressing about 5,000 graduates at the Ivy League school in Philadelphia on Monday, the Oscar- and Tony-winning actor said the academic ceremony was “a little overwhelming and out of my comfort zone.”
And that was his reason for accepting the invitation to speak, he said.
“I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself,” said Washington. “I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Nothing.”
The 56-year-old star of “Malcolm X” and “Philadelphia” delivered a humorous speech with a sobering truth: Failure is inevitable. Yet instead of having something to fall back on, he said, graduates should “fall forward” _ learn from their mistakes and keep going.
Thomas Edison had countless failed experiments before succeeding with the light bulb, he said.
“Do you have the guts to fail?” Washington said. “If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying.”
One of his earliest failures was as a pre-med student at Fordham University in New York, he said. He changed to pre-law, then journalism, and was close to flunking out before switching to drama and getting his degree.
Washington described a second failure about 30 years ago at a miserable tryout for a Broadway musical. Then last year, on the same stage as that audition, Washington won a Tony award for his work in “Fences.”
The speech resonated with new grad Adam Shore, a 21-year-old physics major from the Philadelphia suburb of Dresher, Pa.
“No one ever tells a graduating class, `You’re going to fail.’ But it was very important for everyone to hear that,” Shore said. “You can’t go … thinking you’re going to succeed in every way. You have to be realistic.”
Washington also teased the crowd at Franklin Field by alluding to Hollywood gossip, such as alleged arguments with Russell Crowe on the set of “American Gangster” and an encounter with a partially clothed Angelina Jolie in her dressing room. Washington and Jolie co-starred in “The Bone Collector.”
But then he demurred.
“You’re a group of high-minded intellectuals,” he said, tongue-in-cheek. “You’re not interested in that.”
Washington endeared himself to some students by peppering the speech with references to favorite local hangouts. His son Malcolm just finished his sophomore year on campus, and Washington often traveled to see him play on Penn’s basketball team.View Entire Story
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
Challenge the political status quo. Realize that you make better decisions than the bureaucrats in D.C.?
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
Sometimes life requires a paradigm twist.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc