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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

UPenn and Denzel Washington
Photo Credit: University Communications
Earlier today, I posted Dr. Gutmann's Hollywood-movie themed 2011 commencement speech and mentioned that every year, I make it a point of listening to Penn's commencement speech as a good dose of inspiration.

After the jump, now listen to 2011 commencement speaker (and Penn parent) Denzel Washington talk about his career, tell us all what he's terrified of, and how all of us "will suck at something" and what we need to do about it.

Again, I encourage all of you to watch this speech and then continue pursuing your dreams!

Here are some points and quotes from Denzel's speech:
  • He's uncomfortable seeing everyone watch him during the ceremony giving the speech
  • He begins to tell us about his private moment with Angelina Jolie while she was half-naked in her dressing room at the Oscars
  • He references Penn's squirrel population
  • "Nothing in life is worth while unless you take risks"
  • Regarding his speaking as the commencement speaker: “If I’m going to fall, I don’t want to fall back on anything except my faith. I want to fall forward. I figure at least this way, I’ll see what I’m going to hit.” 
  • He talks about his bad audition early in his career for a musical.   Although it was bad, he didn't quit.  He kept failing.  
  • "Do you have the guts to fail? If you don't fail, you're not even trying."
  • "To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did."
  • "You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse. You can't take it with you."
  • Failure is sometimes the best way to know where you're going.
  • At 17:10 listen to his story about the spiritual prophecy that was given about him when he was 20 and how it came true!
  • At 19:37, he references his time in 1992 filming the movie  Philadelphia at Penn. (which I was there for and got busted sneaking onto set!) and talks about the risks his character took.
  • Take risks, be open to life, be open to people.


Posted by Matt | 12:35 PM | , , , | 1 comments »

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  1. Nicole Maloy, W'95 // May 17, 2011 at 1:59 PM  

    That speech, humbly given and earnestly delivered, on taking risks and not fearing failure, was *extraordinarily* well-received. Students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents were moved by the message. I was struck by how honest he was about being nervous; he seemed to be relating to us not so much as an award-winning actor, but as a fellow human being, a former student, a proud dad. I think he knocked this one out of the park.

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