Denzel Washington confessed to a bit of stage fright in his latest role: Commencement speaker at the University of Pennsylvania.
Addressing about 5,000 graduates at the Ivy League school in Philadelphia on Monday, the Oscar- and Tony-winning actor said the academic ceremony was "a little overwhelming and out of my comfort zone."
And that was his reason for accepting the invitation to speak, he said.
"I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself," said Washington. "I've found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Nothing."
The 56-year-old star of "Malcolm X" and "Philadelphia" delivered a humorous speech with a sobering truth: Failure is inevitable. Yet instead of having something to fall back on, he said, graduates should "fall forward" -- learn from their mistakes and keep going.
Thomas Edison had countless failed experiments before succeeding with the light bulb, he said.
"Do you have the guts to fail?" Washington said. "If you don't fail, you're not even trying."
One of his earliest failures was as a pre-med student at Fordham University in New York, he said. He changed to pre-law, then journalism, and was close to flunking out before switching to drama and getting his degree.
Washington described a second failure about 30 years ago at a miserable tryout for a Broadway musical. Then last year, on the same stage as that audition, Washington won a Tony award for his work in "Fences."
Read more at source