朱恐龍
朱恐龍

丹佐.華盛頓為2011年賓州大學畢業生演講。「就算跌倒,也要往前倒。」 (78722 views)
     

丹佐‧華盛頓:「就算跌倒,也要往前倒!」(Don't Fall back, Fall Forward!)

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Lucifer

http://www.myoops.org/main.php?act=course&id=2472 (全文和原始影片下載連結)

講者:丹佐.華盛頓
2011年5月16日演講

翻譯:洪曉慧
編輯:朱學恆
簡繁轉換:洪曉慧
後製:洪曉慧
字幕影片後制:謝旻均

關於這場演講(來源World News.com)
丹佐.華盛頓為國際知名演員和導演,於5月16日(2011年)星期一在賓州大學第255屆畢業典禮上演講。丹佐.華盛頓是美國最傑出的表演藝術家之一,他在電影、戲劇和電視的演出及身為導演和電視製作人的成就均大獲好評。他的演出屢獲最高榮譽獎項,包括兩座奧斯卡獎和一座東尼獎,並在畢業典禮上獲頒藝術榮譽博士學位。

關於丹佐.華盛頓(來源Wikipedia)
丹佐.華盛頓(生於1954年12月28日)是美國演員、導演和電影製作人。他曾榮獲兩座奧斯卡獎、兩座金球獎和一座東尼獎。他最著名的成就是1989年以《光榮戰役》榮獲奧斯卡最佳男配角獎,並於2001年以《震撼教育》榮獲奧斯卡影帝。

丹佐‧華盛頓:「我太太告訴我這句金玉良言,『想獲得不曾擁有的東西,你必須嘗試從未做過的事。』

Follow up:

丹佐.華盛頓為2011年賓州大學畢業生演講

請跟我一起歡迎丹佐.華盛頓。

(掌聲)(歡呼聲)

謝謝。

(掌聲)

非常感謝。顯然我是最沒條理的演講者,大家都會帶個紙匣來裝演講稿,我只是將講稿夾進一本雜誌裡,所以-(笑聲)其實講稿的順序已經亂掉了。等等,讓我先把講稿整理好。所以,如果講稿開始到處亂飛,請你們幫我跑個腿,拿到講台上,我會盡力完成這場演講。

Gutmann校長、Price教務長、Cohen董事長,各位傑出的獲獎者和今天的畢業生們。

(掌聲)(歡呼聲)

很榮幸今天能被邀請到這裡。來到賓州大學校園總是令我十分開心;我來過這裡很多次,在Palestra體育館看我兒子比賽籃球,他是籃球隊隊員。沒錯,他是籃球隊隊員。(掌聲)(歡呼聲)教練讓他上場的時間不夠多,我們待會兒可以好好談談這件事。(笑聲)開玩笑的;我十分感謝Allen教練對他的指導。(笑聲)真的,確實如此,希望球隊將來能大放異彩。



來到賓州大學總是令我感到賓至如歸,除了幾次當我戴著洋基隊帽子時。(鼓譟聲)我實在大錯特錯,我想我應該換上費城人隊帽子。我感覺在這裡戴洋基隊帽子簡直像拿生命開玩笑。(掌聲)我遇過幾個傢伙對我說,「Denzel,我們喜歡你,你知道。但如果你繼續戴著那頂帽子四處亂晃,我們可不在乎你是誰。」(笑聲)所以你們應該很高興,我今天並沒有戴洋基隊帽子,但我穿著洋基隊襪子、洋基隊T恤、洋基隊夾克、洋基隊內褲、洋基隊襪套,但-沒戴洋基隊帽子。

不過,老實說,我-我有點緊張,我不習慣在這麼盛大的畢業典禮上演講;有點嚇人,令我感到無所適從。若要我一身戎裝扮演軍人;或把我丟上高速行駛的火車頂-有人說這是《煞不住》的劇情;或要我演Malcolm X(黑人民權領袖)或外號「颶風」的拳擊手魯賓.卡特;或《震撼教育》裡的艾隆佐警官都沒問題。但在畢業典禮上演講?這是非常嚴肅的場合,完全不同的演出,眼前坐著成千上萬人。也許有人會說,你是電影明星,這對你來說應該是家常便飯。確實如此,理論上來說確實如此,但我本人並不真的在電影院裡看著觀眾望著我。(笑聲)這麼說還算合理吧?我的意思是,我不會親眼看見他們咳嗽、坐立不安,或拿出iphone發簡訊給男友,或抓屁股搔癢,不管他們在電影院裡做什麼。但從台上這個位置,底下的你們一目了然,這讓我很不自在。(笑聲)所以,拜託,在演講結束之前,不要拿出iphone發簡訊給男友,拜託。但如果你要抓屁股,請隨意,我可以理解。(笑聲)



我一直思考該講些什麼內容,我知道最能吸引你們注意力的方法就是講些好萊塢八卦。例如-我可以講我跟羅素.克洛在《美國黑幫》拍攝現場爭吵的事。但我想,不,不,你們是高知識份子,不會對這些八卦感興趣。(笑聲)也許我猜錯了?(笑聲)我曾經想過,或許我可以談談跟安潔莉娜.裘莉在奧斯卡典禮後台更衣室的「私密」時刻。(口哨聲)(笑聲)(掌聲)但我想,不,這不太適合,這可是常春藤名校。我的意思是,安潔莉娜.裘莉在更衣室裡半裸,誰會想聽這些?(笑聲)不,不會有人想聽。這可是賓州大學,不會有人對這種八卦感興趣。(笑聲)也許在Drexel大學(附近一所大學)還有可能,但不是這裡。(笑聲)(掌聲)(口哨聲)喔,這下我可惹上麻煩了。(笑聲)所以我又回到原點,感到緊張不安。

所以,現在你們或許會想,既然這對你來說這麼困難、壓力這麼大,一開始為何要接受這個邀請?你們知道,我兒子在這裡就讀,這是第一個理由。這是個好理由;我總得看看我付的學費值不值得。(笑聲)現場某些家長肯定能理解我的想法。(笑聲)那些坐在樓上的家長。當然,我出席這個典禮還有其他理由。沒錯,我得過奧斯卡獎,但我不曾吃過這裡的「神奇肉丸」,得在美食車前排上半小時才吃得到。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)沒錯吧?沒錯,我跟歐巴馬總統面對面交談過,但我不曾跟一位叫「Kweeder」的傢伙當面說過話,他星期二晚上在Smokes演唱憤世嫉俗的歌曲。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我從來不曾去過「buis」、從來不曾去過「himos」。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)沒錯,我扮演過與惡魔抗爭的探員,但我從不曾去過一所松鼠族群完全失控的學校。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)牠們闖入宿舍、在校園裡遊盪,我好像還看見有些拿著書本去上課。(笑聲)所以我非來不可。我必須來,即使我害怕自己可能會出糗。事實上,如果你們想知道真相,我非來不可的理由是…正因為我可能出糗,才非來不可。這是什麼意思?請聽我說明。



我認為,人生中沒有任何事比勇於冒險更有價值,沒有任何事。曼德拉曾經說過,「如果安於現狀,生命就會失去應有的熱情。」我敢肯定,在你們的人生歷程中,無論是學校生活、申請大學、選擇主修科系或決定人生方向時,總會有人提醒你們必須給自己「留後路」。確保自己有「後路」可走,親愛的。但我無法理解「留後路」這個想法。如果我會遭遇失敗,我不希望為自己留什麼後路,除了留下我的信念。我希望能「向前看」,我認為這至少能讓我看清前方有什麼阻礙。向前看,這就是我的意思。

Reggie Jackson職業生涯中曾被三振出局2600次,棒球史上最高紀錄,但你不會聽說這些三振出局的紀錄,人們只記得他擊出的全壘打。向前看。愛迪生曾經歷過1000次失敗的實驗,你們知道這件事嗎?我本來不知道,因為他在第1001次實驗時發明了電燈泡。向前看。每次失敗都意味著向成功邁進一步,你必須冒險,我相信你們早已聽過這些,但我想告訴你們,為什麼這個觀念如此重要。有三個原因,等我說完後,你們就可以拿出iPhone了。



第一,你在生命中某個時刻必定會遭遇失敗,接受這個事實。你會遭遇失敗,你會感到羞愧,你會做出某些遜斃了的事。(笑聲)這是無庸置疑地。我知道這或許不是畢業典禮上經常會出現的說法。但各位,我想對你們說-接受失敗,因為這是無法避免的事,我很清楚這一點。

在演藝圈,失敗是家常便飯。我剛出道時,參加一部百老匯音樂劇試鏡,我想,這簡直是為我量身打造的角色,除了我不會唱歌。(笑聲)當我在後台準備上台時,我前面那個傢伙,他唱得就像…就像帕華洛帝那樣-(模仿唱歌劇),不停地唱,我對自己越來越沒信心。評審對他說,「謝謝,非常感謝,我們會再給你消息。」然後我帶著我的樂譜出場。我選的歌曲是誘惑合唱團的《Just My Imagination》,我把樂譜遞給伴奏,她看著樂譜,看了我一眼,然後看向指揮,像這樣(困惑狀)。於是我開始唱…(唱歌)評審一語不發,我想我的表現必定是漸入佳境,所以我開始沉浸於表演中。(唱歌)(扭動)(笑聲)然後評審說,「好,好,謝謝,非常感謝,華盛頓先生,謝謝。」我想我肯定得不到那份工作了,但他們通知我參加下一次試鏡。下一次試鏡內容是戲劇表演。我想,或許我不會唱歌,但演戲可難不倒我。他們把我跟那個會唱歌的傢伙分在同一組,但我對音樂廳毫無概念;音樂廳相當大,所以你的音量必須讓音樂廳裡每個人,包括坐在後方的人都能聽見。我的表演方式就像在現實生活中跟他人自然地交談,你們知道,就像跟身旁的人說話那樣。我不懂該怎麼唸我的臺詞,我是這麼唸的,「把杯子遞給我。」他的唸法是,「好,我會把杯子給你,親愛的,杯子馬上就遞過去了。」(笑聲)然後我說,「好…好。」(笑聲)「那…我該把杯子還給你嗎?」「是啊,你得把它還給我,因為那是我的杯子,應該還給我才是。」(笑聲)我沒得到那份工作。(笑聲)



但重要的是,我沒有放棄,我沒有退縮。我離開那裡,準備下一次試鏡,然後是一次又一次地試鏡。我向上帝祈禱、不斷地祈禱、一再祈禱,但依然不斷地失敗、持續地失敗、一再失敗。但無所謂。你們知道為什麼嗎?有句諺語是這麼說的,「只要你在理髮店附近晃得夠久,遲早能剪到頭髮。」機會終究會到來。

我確實等到我的機會。去年,我在百老匯演了一齣叫《Fences》的戲劇。(掌聲)之前有人提過這件事。贏得一座東尼獎(音樂劇界的奧斯卡獎)。順帶一提,在這齣劇中我不需要唱歌。但諷刺的是,這齣劇在The Court劇院上演,正是我30年前第一次試鏡失敗的那家劇院。(掌聲)所以重點是,我會講快一點,重點是,今天在座所有畢業生,都擁有邁向成功之路所需的訓練和才能,但你是否有接受失敗的勇氣?

這是我第二個關於失敗的觀點。如果你不曾失敗過,代表你從未真正冒險嘗試。我再說一次。如果你不曾失敗過,代表你從未真正冒險嘗試。我太太告訴我這句金玉良言,「想獲得不曾擁有的東西,你必須嘗試從未做過的事。」勵志演講者Les Brown曾經這麼比喻:想像你即將去世,圍繞著在你床邊的是你尚未發揮之潛力的鬼魂、你未曾付諸行動之想法的鬼魂、你尚未使用之才能的鬼魂;它們圍繞在你床邊,滿懷憤怒、失望和沮喪,它們說,「我們來找你,因為你本來有機會賦予我們生命,現在我們得和你一起進墳墓了。」所以,我想問大家,當你臨終時,床邊會圍繞多少鬼魂?



你們在教育上投注許多心力,人們也在你們身上投入許多資源。我想告訴你們,這個世界比以往任何時候更需要你們的才能。我兩天前才從非洲返回,所以在時差的影響下,我的話有點雜亂無章。我剛從南非回來,那是個美麗的國家,但有些地方十分窮困,需要幫助。非洲不過是冰山一角;中東需要你們的幫助、日本需要你們的幫助、阿拉巴馬州需要你們的幫助、田納西州需要你們的幫助、路易斯安那州需要你們的幫助、費城需要你們的幫助。(掌聲)這個世界…(掌聲)這個世界亟需眾人伸出援手,而我們需要你們的幫助。

確實如此。我們需要你們貢獻一己之力,各位年輕人。我並不是說我能代表講台上其他人,但我知道自己稍微年長些;我們需要你們的力量,各位年輕人,請記住這一點。所以,你們必須勇往直前,你們必須貢獻所有的一切,無論是你的時間、你的才能、你的祈禱或你的財富,因為,請記住這一點:靈車後面不會跟著U-Haul(搬家、租車公司)的卡車。(笑聲)(掌聲)我再說一遍;靈車後面不會跟著U-Haul的卡車,你無法帶著財富離開人世。埃及人曾經試過。(笑聲)他們所帶的全被洗劫一空。(笑聲)(掌聲)



所以,問題是,你打算怎麼運用你擁有的一切?無論你擁有的是什麼。在座有些人主修企管,有些人會成為神學家、護士或社會學家,有些人擁有財富,有些人擁有耐心,有些人擁有善心,有些人擁有愛,有些人擁有從刻苦中磨練出的智慧。無論你擁有的是什麼,無論你擁有什麼才能,你打算怎麼運用你擁有的一切?

好,接下來要講的是我對失敗的最後一個觀點。有時候,失敗是找尋人生方向最好的方法,人生不可能永遠一帆風順。我一開始是Fordham大學醫科預科生,我修過一門叫「心臟形態發生學」的課程,我到現在還不太會唸-「心臟形態發生學」。我讀不懂、唸不清,我肯定這門課一定會被當。(笑聲)然後我決定去唸法律預科,之後是新聞學。我對主修科目三心兩意結果忠實地反映在成績上。(笑聲)沒錯,每況愈下。某個學期,我的GPA(學業成績平均點數)只有1.8,學校相當客氣地建議我最好休學一陣子。當時我20歲,身處人生最低潮,然後某天-我清楚記得那個日子-1975年3月27日;當時我在母親的美容院裡幫忙,我母親在Mount Vernon開了一家美容院。一位公認是全鎮最老的婦人來到店裡,我跟她不是很熟。當時,我面對著鏡子,每當我看向鏡中時,她的目光總是在我身上,死盯著我。她就那樣一直盯著我不放,每當我看向她時,她總是用那種奇怪的目光盯著我。最後,她把頭上的烘乾機掀開,說了一句令我畢生難忘的話。她先說,「請給我一張紙。」然後對我說,「小夥子,我有個預感,一個心靈預感,」她說,「你將會周遊世界,將你的聲音傳達給成千上萬人。」提醒大家一下,我當時20歲,剛從學校休學。事實上,我自作聰明地想,也許她從水晶球裡看見我會在秋季復學?(笑聲)

但也許她確實預見了什麼。因為那年夏末,當我在康乃狄克州的YMCA夏令營擔任指導員時,我們舉辦了參加者的才藝表演。表演結束後,另一位指導員問我,「你考慮過從事表演工作嗎?你在這方面很有天賦。」當我在那年秋天返回Fordham大學時,我一復學,就再次更改了主修課程-最後一次。之後的人生旅程中,就像那位老婦人預言的,我周遊世界,透過電影,將我的聲音傳達給成千上萬人。那成千上萬人-直到今天,並沒有真正見過我本人-直到今天,我並沒有真正跟那些人見過面,他們也沒見過我。他們只能在電影裡看見我,他們無法見到我本人。但我今天親眼見到你們,眼中所見的令我感到鼓舞,眼中所見的帶給我力量,眼中所見的令我十分欣喜。(掌聲)



還剩一頁,然後我就會閉嘴。讓我用一個例子來做總結。事實上,校長之前稍微提過,跟《費城》這部電影有關,她肯定偷看了我的演講稿。(笑聲)多年前,我演出一部叫《費城》的電影,其中某些場景是在這個校園裡拍攝的。《費城》在1993年上映,當時你們大多數人或許還在包尿布,說不定有些教授也是。(笑聲)我自己也覺得好笑。(笑聲)但那是一部好電影,不妨到Netflix租來看看。那是部好電影,租看看,你們每租一次,我就能賺23美分,拜託,去租吧!(笑聲)樓上的家長們,請到Netflix租看看吧,拜託,也跟朋友推薦一下。電影內容是描述一名男子的故事,由湯姆.漢克斯扮演。他因為感染愛滋病,被任職的律師事務所開除,他想控告那間事務所,但沒人願意做他的律師,直到我扮演的一位懼怕同性戀、只擅長處理交通事故案件的律師接手這個案子。以某方面來說,如果你看過這部電影,就會瞭解我今天所說的一切;你會明白我所謂的勇於冒險及不怕失敗。

因為冒險不僅跟謀生有關,也能讓你瞭解你所明白及不明白的事物。它能讓你保持開闊的心胸,接受不同觀點。在這部影片中,我扮演的角色以踏出一小步開始,進行小小的冒險。他十分緩慢地逐漸克服自己的恐懼,我想,最後他心中必定充滿了愛。我想,沒有比這更適合送給你們的畢業禮物了。



不僅要勇於冒險,也要以開闊的心胸面對人生、接受新的看法;以開放的態度面對新的觀點;勇於在全國最頂尖大學的畢業典禮上演講,即使害怕得四肢僵硬。或許這令人膽顫心驚,但依然十分值得。因為你所冒的險、你遇見的人、你所愛的人、你擁有的信念,將會定義你的人生。

因此,2011年畢業生們,這是你們的使命。當你們離開費城這個友善的校園後,永遠別氣餒、永遠別退縮,貢獻你擁有的一切。當你在生命旅程中遭遇失敗挫折,也許甚至就在今晚,當你多喝了幾杯香檳後,請記住這一點:向前看。

恭喜各位,我愛你們,上帝保佑大家,獻上我最崇高的敬意。

(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

以下為系統擷取之英文原文
About this talk

Denzel Washington, internationally renowned actor and director, delivered the address at the University of Pennsylvania's 255th Commencement on Monday, May 16. Washington is one of the nation's preeminent performing artists, having achieved wide acclaim for his film, theatrical and television performances, as well as his accomplishments in film directing and television production. Washington has received the most distinguished accolades of his art, including two Academy Awards and a Tony Award. At Commencement, Washington received an honorary doctor of arts degree.
About Denzel Washington
Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is an American actor, film director and film producer. Washington has received two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe awards, and a Tony Award. He is notable for winning the Best Supporting Actor for Glory in 1989; and the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001 for his role in the film Training Day.
About this transcript
President Gutmann; Provost Price; Board Chair Cohen; fellow honorees; and today’s graduates:
I’m honored and grateful for the invitation today.
It’s always great to be on the Penn campus. I’ve been to a lot of basketball games at the Palestra because my son played on the team. Coach didn’t give him enough playing time, but we’ll talk about that later. No, I’m very pleased with the progress Coach Allen has made and I wish them success in the future.
I’d always get a warm welcome here—except on the few occasions when I’d wear my Yankees cap.
It’s like taking your life in your hands. People would say: “We love you Denzel. But you walking around with that hat on…we don’t care who you are.”
So you’ll be happy to see that I’m not wearing my Yankees cap today.
But I am wearing my Yankees socks, my Yankees t-shirt, and my Yankees underwear.
Still, I’ll be honest with you: I’m a little nervous. Speaking at a graduation of this magnitude is a little overwhelming.
This is out of my comfort zone.
Dress me up in army fatigues. Throw me on top of a moving train. Ask me to play Malcolm X, Rubin Hurricane Carter, Alonzo from Training Day: I can do all that.
But a commencement speech? It’s a very serious affair. Different ballgame. There’s literally thousands and thousands of people here.
And for those who say—you’re a movie star, millions of people watch you speak all the time…
… Yes, that’s technically true. But I’m not actually there in the theater—watching them watching me.
I’m not there when they cough… or fidget… or pull out their iPhone and text their boyfriend… or scratch their behinds.
From up here: I can see every single one of you. And that makes me uncomfortable.
So please, don’t pull out your iPhone and text your boyfriend until after I’m done.
But if you need to scratch your behinds, go right ahead. I’ll understand.
Thinking about the speech, I figured the best way to keep your attention would be to talk about some really, juicy Hollywood stuff.
I thought I could start with me and Russell Crowe getting into some arguments on the set of American Gangster…
… but no. You’re a group of high-minded intellectuals. You’re not interested in that.
Or how about that “private” moment I had with Angelina Jolie half naked in her dressing room backstage at the Oscars?… Who wants to hear about that?
I don’t think so. This is an Ivy League school. Angelina Jolie in her dressing room…?
No, this is Penn. That stuff wouldn’t go over well here. Maybe at Drexel—but not here. I’m in trouble now.
I was back to square one—and feeling the pressure.
So now you’re probably thinking—if it was gonna be this difficult, why’d I even accept today’s invitation in the first place?
Well, you know my son goes here. That’s a good reason. And I always like to check to see how my money’s being spent.
And I’m sure there’s some parents out there who can relate to what I’m talking about!
And there were other good reasons for me to show up.
Sure, I got an Academy Award… but I never had something called “Magic Meatballs” after waiting in line for half an hour at a food truck.
True, I’ve talked face-to-face with President Obama… but I never met a guy named “Kweeder” who sings bad cover songs at Smokes on a Tuesday night.
Yes, I’ve played a detective battling demons… but I’ve never been to a school in my life where the squirrel population has gone bananas, breaking into the dorm rooms and taking over campus. I think I’ve even seen some carrying books on the way to class!
So I had to be here. I had to come… even though I was afraid I might make a fool of myself.
In fact… if you really want to know the truth:
I had to come… exactly because I might make a fool of myself.
What am I talking about?
Well, here it is:
I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.
Nothing.
Nelson Mandela said:
“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living.”
I’m sure in your experiences—in school… in applying to college… in picking your major… in deciding what you want to do with life—people have told you to make sure you have something to “fall back on.”
But I’ve never understood that concept, having something to fall back on.
If I’m going to fall, I don’t want to fall back on anything, except my faith. I want to fall… forward.
At least I figure that way I’ll see what I’m about to hit.
Fall forward.
Here’s what I mean:
Reggie Jackson struck out twenty-six-hundred times in his career—the most in the history of baseball.
But you don’t hear about the strikeouts. People remember the home runs.
Fall forward.
Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. Did you know that?
I didn’t either—because #1,001 was the light bulb.
Fall forward.
Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.
You’ve got to take risks. And I’m sure you’ve probably heard that before.
But I want to talk about why it’s so important.
I’ve got three reasons—and then you can pick up your iPhones.
First… you will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose. You will embarrass yourself. You will suck at something. There is no doubt about it.
That’s probably not a traditional message for a graduation ceremony. But, hey, I’m telling you—embrace it.
Because it’s inevitable.
And I should know: In the acting business, you fail all the time.
Early in my career, I auditioned for a part in a Broadway musical. A perfect role for me, I thought—except for the fact that I can’t sing.
So I’m in the wings, about to go on stage but the guy in front of me is singing like Pavarotti and I am just shrinking getting smaller and smaller...
So I come out with my little sheet music and it was “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations, that’s what I came up with.
So I hand it to the accompanist, and she looks at it and looks at me and looks at the director, so I start to sing and they’re not saying anything. I think I must be getting better, so I start getting into it.
But after the first verse, the director cuts me off: “Thank you. Thank you very much, you’ll be hearing from me.”
The next part of the audition is the acting part. I figure, I can’t sing, but I know I can act.
But the guy I was paired with to do the scene couldn’t be more overdramatic and over-the top.
Suffice to say, I didn’t get the part.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t quit. I didn’t fall back.
I walked out of there to prepare for the next audition, and the next audition, and the next one. I prayed and I prayed, but I continued to fail, and I failed, and I failed.
But it didn’t matter. Because you know what? You hang around a barbershop long enough—sooner or later you will get a haircut.
You will catch a break.
Last year I did a play called Fences on Broadway and I won a Tony Award. And I didn’t have to sing for it, by the way.
And here’s the kicker—it was at the Court Theater, the same theater where I failed that first audition 30 years prior.
The point is, every graduate here today has the training and the talent to succeed.
But do you have guts to fail?
Here’s my second point about failure:
If you don’t fail… you’re not even trying.
My wife told me this expression: “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
Les Brown, a motivational speaker, made an analogy about this.
Imagine you’re on your deathbed—and standing around your bed are the ghosts representing your unfilled potential.
The ghosts of the ideas you never acted on. The ghosts of the talents you didn’t use.
And they’re standing around your bed. Angry. Disappointed. Upset.
“We came to you because you could have brought us to life,” they say. “And now we go to the grave together.”
So I ask you today: How many ghosts are going to be around your bed when your time comes?
You invested a lot in your education. And people invested in you.
And let me tell you, the world needs your talents.
Man, does it ever.
I just got back from four months of filming in South Africa—beautiful country, but there are places with terrible poverty that need help.
And Africa is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Middle East needs your help. Japan needs your help. Alabama and Tennessee need your help. Louisiana needs your help. Philadelphia needs your help.
The world needs a lot—and we need it from you, the young people.
So get out there. Give it everything you’ve got—whether it’s your time, your talent, your prayers, or your treasure.
Because remember this: You’ll never see a U-haul behind a hearse.
You can’t take it with you. The Ancient Egyptians tried it—and all they got was robbed!
So what are you going to do with what you have? And I’m not talking how much you have.
Some of you are business majors. Some of you are theologians, nurses, sociologists. Some of you have money. Some of you have patience. Some have kindness. Some have love. Some of you have the gift of long-suffering.
Whatever it is… what are you going to do with what you have?
Now here’s my last point about failure:
Sometimes it’s the best way to figure out where you’re going.
Your life will never be a straight path.
I began at Fordham University as a pre-med student. That lasted until I took a course called “Cardiac Morphogenesis.”
I couldn’t pronounce it… and I couldn’t pass it.
Then I decided to go pre-law. Then journalism.
With no academic focus, my grades took off in their own direction: down.
My GPA was 1.8 one semester, and the university very politely suggested it might be better to take some time off.
I was 20 years old, at my lowest point.
And then one day—and I remember the exact day: March 27th, 1975—I was helping out in the beauty shop my mother owned in Mount Vernon.
An older woman who belonged to my mother’s church, one of the elders of the town, was in there getting her hair done and kept giving me these strange looks.
She finally took the drier off her head and said something to me I’ll never forget:
“Young boy,” she said. “I have a spiritual prophecy: you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.”
Like a wise-ass, I’m thinking to myself: “Does she got anything in that crystal ball about me getting back to college in the fall?”
But maybe she was on to something. Because later that summer, while working as a counselor at a YMCA camp in Connecticut, we put on a talent show for the campers.
After the show, another counselor came up to me and asked: “Have you ever thought of acting? You should. You’re good at that.”
When I got back to Fordham that fall I changed my major once again —for the last time.
And in the years that followed—just as that woman getting her hair done predicted—I have traveled the world and I have spoken to millions of people through my movies.
Millions who—up ‘till today—I couldn’t see while I was talking to them.
But I do see you today. And I’m encouraged by what I see. I’m strengthened by what I see. I love what I see.
Let me conclude with one final point. Many years ago I did this movie called Philadelphia. We actually filmed some scenes right here on campus.
Philadelphia came out in 1993, when most of you were probably still crawling around in diapers. Some of the professors, too.
But it’s a good movie. Rent it on Netflix. I get 23 cents every time you do. Tell your friends, too!
It’s about a man, played by Tom Hanks, who’s fired from his law firm because he has AIDS.
He wants to sue the firm, but no one’s willing to represent him until a homophobic, ambulance-chasing lawyer—played by yours truly—takes on the case.
In a way, if you watch the movie, you’ll see everything I’m talking about today.
You’ll see what I mean about taking risks or being willing to fail.
Because taking a risk is not just about going for a job.
It’s also about knowing what you know and what you don’t know. It’s about being open to people and ideas.
Over the course of the film, the character I play begins to take risks. He slowly overcomes his fears, and ultimately his heart becomes flooded with love.
And I can’t think of a better message as we send you off today.
To not only take risks, but to be open to life.
To accept new views and to be open to new opinions.
To be willing to speak at commencement at one of the country’s best universities… even though you’re scared stiff.
While it may be frightening, it will also be rewarding.
Because the chances you take… the people you meet… the people you love...the faith that you have—that’s what’s going to define your life.
So… members of the class of 2011: This is your mission:
When you leave the friendly confines of West Philly: Never be discouraged. Never hold back. Give everything you’ve got.
And when you fall throughout life—and maybe even tonight after a few too many glasses of champagne—fall forward.

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