Under overcast skies and in front of proud parents and friends, an estimated 6,000 University of Pennsylvania students became alumni yesterday after a pep-talk commencement address from Denzel Washington at Franklin Field.
The Academy Award-winning actor, whose son is a Penn undergrad, said he wasn’t used to speaking in front of such a large crowd, but used the stage to urge locals to rent his movie “Philadelphia” on Netflix since he gets 23 cents each time somebody does so. Then, he got serious.
“You will fail at some point in your life. You will suck at something. Sometimes it is the best way to figure out where you’re going,” he said in an address touching on early hurdles he faced as a Fordham University student and early in his career. “If you don’t fail, you aren’t even trying. To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
Washington told the Ivy Leaguers that “the world needs your talents” while listing places such as Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and tornado stricken Alabama.
“Philadelphia needs your help,” Washington added to great applause. “I see you today, I am encouraged and strengthened, and I love what I see.”