Those of us who closely follow the lives of celebrities might be prone to forgetting that Amal Clooney isn’t just the wife of George Clooney, to be paraded around at premieres and special events. She’s way more badass than that. A human rights lawyer, humanitarian and philanthropist, Clooney continues to pursue her own career, even when we’re not looking.
On Friday, she put her experience and the lessons she’s learned into a rousing commencement speech for Vanderbilt University’s Class of 2018. It was a politically charged but empowering speech, occasionally making veiled criticisms of President Donald Trump but mostly passing along sage advice to a younger generation about to go out into the world and carve out their own path.
A video of the speech, posted to the Associated Press‘s YouTube channel and further reported on by Entertainment Tonight, captures all of Clooney’s words and passion beautifully. It’s really something to see this talented orator speak.
Taking up a theme of courage and why it’s necessary to be courageous at this moment in time, Clooney listed the various civil injustices we currently face.
“At a time when women all over the world face physical abuse, restrictions on their ability to work, own property, travel and even have custody over their children, we need courage,” she declared to the graduating students. “At a time when the LGBT community on every continent struggles for equal rights, freedom from imprisonment and even death, we need courage.”
She continued with some of those criticisms of Trump.
“At a time when more journalists are in prison around the world than in any time in the last three decades — and even here at home, the media is under attack from the White House — we need courage. And at a time when our politicians try to conflate the terms refugee and terrorist and make us fear one another, we need courage.”
"It’s character traits like persistence, ambition, inquisitiveness and grit that will determine your success. And perhaps more than anything that will define you is your courage. That is the virtue on which all others depend."–Amal Clooney #VU2018
— Vanderbilt University (@VanderbiltU) May 10, 2018
Clooney’s speech ended on a call to action that could (and should) really be adopted by all of us: “Be courageous. Challenge orthodoxy. Stand up for what you believe in. When you are in your rocking chair talking to your grandchildren many years from now, be sure you have a good story to tell.”
It’s not every day that we get to see Clooney in this light — singularly powerful, outspoken, invigorating us and encouraging us to do better — but we sure could get used to it.