In the wake of COVID-19, young people of all ages are missing out on a major rite of passage: graduation. In order to fill the void, John Krasinski held a ceremony on Some Good News Sunday featuring some pretty heavy-hitting speakers: Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Malala Yousafzai and Jon Stewart.
Krasinski brought on a selection of graduates, all of whom were able to ask respective speakers questions about their lives and experiences. Spielberg fielded the query: “How do you still follow your dreams when it feels like the world isn’t supportive of them?”
“Dreams are a great test because a dream is going to test your resolve,” the director said. “And you’re going to know a dream from a pipe dream. You’re going to know a dream from just sort of a casual brush with something that got you excited and then it evaporates. A real dream is something that not only hangs onto you but you will hang onto it. It will power you through every obstacle that people and the environment will throw against you — because if we’re in service of our dreams versus our dreams being in service to us, it becomes something greater.”
Yousafzai was asked what advice she would give her younger self, to which she responded: “I would just tell myself that, ‘Believe in your voice, continue speaking and don’t give up.’ Society tries to define us and tried to limit us, so I would say, ‘Do not listen to that. Ignore all of that and believe in yourself.'”
Winfrey shared an inspiring story about her first job in response to the question: “What was a time in your life that was a low point that was actually life-changing?” The talk show host recounted her first experience with failure: a TV news gig in Baltimore that ended in her being demoted. Still, after that job fell through, she was put on a local talk show. “And the day I did my first talk show, I felt like I had come home to myself. I believe that failure is an opportunity to move yourself in a different direction,” she said.
Stewart may have gotten the hardest question, the all-consuming: “What next?” After humbling himself at the feet of Winfrey, whom he had to follow, he responded, simply: “Stop completing things and start living them.”
Krasinski isn’t the only one offering up replacement graduation speakers. iHeartRadio is broadcasting speeches by Jimmy Fallon, Hillary Clinton, Eli Manning, John Legend, Halsey, Kesha, DJ Khaled, Pitbull, Khalid, Tim McGraw, Chelsea Handler and others. Winfrey will also speak at Facebook and Instagram’s event, along with Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X and Simone Biles and more. Additionally, Miley Cyrus will deliver a special performance of her song “The Climb.”