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Denzel Washington in ~ Penn’s 2011 Commencement

Here is the complete transcript (Edited version) of gibbs Denzel Washington’s famous “Fall Forward” decided at college of Pennsylvania. The event developed on Monday, might 16, 2011.

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TRANSCRIPT: 

President Gutmann: Please join me in welcome Denzel Washington.

Denzel Washington – Academy Award-winning and also Tony Award-winning actor and director.

Thank you. Say thanks to you an extremely much.

I am obviously the most unorganized; anyone else has actually nice boxes when they’re manuscript up and also I simply kind of got all my ingredient here and put inside of a magazine, so. So in fact, i don’t also have it in the right order, wait a minute. Let me obtain it in the appropriate order here….

So if the starts choose flying about the stage, just run around and grab it because that me, lug it ago up below for me. I’ll store going together I can.

President Gutmann; Provost Price; plank Chair Cohen; other honorees; beautiful honorees and today’s graduates.

I’m honored and also grateful for the invite today. It’s always been great to be on the pen campus. I’ve to be here prior to a many times because that basketball games. My son played in ~ the Palestra, play on the basketball team. Coach didn’t give him sufficient playing time, yet we’ll talk about that later.

No, I’m yes, really pleased v the development that Coach Allen has made and also no, ns do. Ns am, i really am. And I hope him the best success in the future.

I’d always get a warmth welcome once I involved Pennsylvania, once I come to Philadelphia — other than on the few occasions as soon as I’d wear my Yankees cap.

It’s like taking your life in your hands about it as soon as you wear Yankee cap, ns am informing you. I met a couple of guys and they were like: “Hey, us love you Denzel. Yet you walking roughly with the hat on…we don’t care who girlfriend are.”


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So you will do it be happy to check out that I’m no wearing mine Yankees lid today.

But i am wearing mine Yankees socks, mine Yankees t-shirt, and also my Yankees jock shirts, mine Yankee underwear. Not my Yankee cap.

Still, okay be ethical with you: ns a little nervous. Ns am not offered to speak at a graduation that this magnitude, that a little overwhelming. This is out of my lull zone.

Dress me up in army fatigues. Or throw me on height of a moving train, someone stated unstoppable or asking me come play Malcolm X, Rubin Hurricane Carter, Alonzo indigenous Training Day: I deserve to do all that.

But a beginning speech? that a an extremely serious affair and it’s a different ballgame. There room literally thousands and thousands of world here.

And for those who say— fine you’re a movie star, millions of world watch you speak all the time…… Yes, that’s technically true. However I’m no actually there in the theatre — watching them watching me. Ns think that renders sense.

I typical I’m not there once they cough… or fidget… or pull out their iPhone and also text their boyfriend or scrape their behinds.

But from up here: I can see every solitary one the you. And also that makes me uncomfortable.

So please, nothing pull out your iPhones and also don’t text your boyfriend till after ns done. Please.

But if you need to scratch her behinds, go ideal ahead. I’ll understand.

I to be thinking about the speech, which I need to say. Ns figured the best means to store your attention would be come talk about something really, juicy Hollywood stuff. I believed I can start through me and Russell Crowe acquiring into some disagreements on the collection of American Gangster…but no. She a group of high-minded intellectuals. You’re not interested in that.

I thought about “private” minute I had actually backstage v Angelina Jolie in she dressing room in ~ the Oscars?… I said no, i don’t think so. This is one Ivy league school. Angelina Jolie half-naked in her dressing room…? Who desires to hear around that?


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No one, no one, this is Penn. That stuff wouldn’t walk over fine here. Perhaps at Drexel—but no over here.

I’m in problem now.

I was ago to square one emotion the pressure. So currently you’re probably thinking — if it to be going to it is in this difficult, why’d I also accept today’s invite in the very first place?

Well, you know my boy goes here. It is number one. It is 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 have the right to relate to what I’m talk about!

And there were other good reasons for me to display up. Sure, I got an Academy Award… but I never had actually something called “Magic Meatballs” after wait in line for half an hour in ~ a food truck.

Yes, i have talked face-to-face with President Obama… yet I never ever talked challenge to confront with a guy named “Kweeder” that sings poor songs in ~ Smokes ~ above a Tuesday night.

Yes, i have played a detective battling demons… but I’ve never been come a school in my life wherein the squirrel populace has unable to do bananas. I average they break right into the dorm rooms and they’re walking around campus. Ns think I observed some carrying publications on the means to class.

So I had to it is in here. I had to come… also though i was fear I could make a fool of myself. In fact, if you really desire to know the truth: I had to come exactly due to the fact that I could make a fool of myself.

What am i talking about?

Well, here it is: I’ve uncovered that naught in life is worthwhile uneven you take risks. Nothing.

Nelson Mandela said: “There is no enthusiasm to be uncovered playing small, in settling for a life that’s much less than the one you’re qualified of living.”

I’m certain in your experiences in school… in applying to college… in picking your major… in deciding what you desire to do with life, civilization have said you to make sure you have something to “fall ago on.” Make sure you gained something to fall ago on, honey. However I never interpreted that concept, having something come fall back on.


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If i’m going come fall, i don’t desire to fall back on anything, except my faith. I want to autumn forward. At least I number that means I’ll watch what I’m around to hit.

Fall forward.

Here’s what ns mean:

Reggie Jackson struck the end twenty-six-hundred time in his career — the many in the history of baseball. However you nothing hear around the strikeouts. Civilization remember the home runs.

Fall forward.

Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. Walk you know that? i didn’t either, because 1,001 was the light bulb.

Fall forward.

Every fail experiment is one step closer to success. You’ve acquired to take risks. And I’m certain you’ve more than likely heard that before.

But I desire to talk around why it’s for this reason important.

I’ve obtained three reasons and then you deserve to pick up her iPhones.

First… you will fail in ~ some allude in her life. Accept it. You will lose. You will certainly embarrass yourself. You will certainly suck in ~ something. There is no doubt around it. That’s more than likely not a traditional message because that a graduation ceremony.

But, hey, I’m informing you—embrace it. Because it’s inevitable.

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And I have to know: In the exhilaration business, you fail every the time. At an early stage in mine career, i auditioned because that a part in a Broadway musical. A perfect function for me, ns thought—except because that the reality that ns can’t sing.