Jennifer Coolidge Tells Graduates “People Want The Real You” In Viral Commencement Speech

As a self-described “weird person,” the Legally Blonde icon encouraged college graduates to embrace the uniqueness and love themselves.

We are in the full swing of graduation right now, which means that a whole bevy of celebrities being invited to schools to offer words of wisdom in commencement speeches. And one thing we are learning this year in particular, some commencement speeches are just better than others. Like Jennifer Coolidge’s sweet, heartfelt, and deeply empathetic commencement speech delivered for graduating students of Washington University in St. Louis.

Coolidge was invited to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri last week to offer her personal insights to the graduating class. And she had nothing but kind words of empathy, not just for the young people before her, but for herself. The Legally Blonde star remembered her own parents and their wishes for her, telling the crowd, “My mother thought I was not quite normal. She kept on saying things like, ‘What’s to become of Jennifer?’” Coolidge said. “‘Just be normal, Jennifer.’ I heard that so many times. And not being normal, that felt painful. And hearing about it in a Boston accent somehow made it worse.”

All these years and countless accolades for her unique talent later, Coolidge told students ,“I stand before you as a weird person,” and encouraged them to embrace their own particular weirdness too. After struggling to find her own path, Coolidge explained that she realized, “People wanted the real me, and people want the real you.” She asked them to choose “radical self-acceptance and compassion.”

Coolidge went on to caution the students against putting pressure on themselves to know their path right away, saying, “You don’t have to leave here today and sort of have it all figured out. I didn’t. And I don’t know, maybe the delay sort of helped me in some way,” going on to add, “Accept who you are, and love that person because this is the moment. You already are everything you need to be.”

Her speech was shared on TikTok by a student, where many social media users commended Coolidge for her kindness and empathy. “Such a heartwarming and uplifting speech. You don’t have to know it all but you will get where you want to be,” wrote one person, while another added, “No this is a graduation speech.” This was possibly a reference to Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker’s recent controversial commencement speech at Benedictine College where he condemned IVF, made racially divisive comments, and encouraged women to focus on being “homemakers” over their careers.

Jennifer Coolidge decided to go a different, more encouraging and compassionate route when talking to graduating students. As one TikToker put it, “She makes me want to a degree real bad.”