Maya Rudolph Channels Beyonce for Tulane Graduation Speech

PHOTO: Actress Maya Rudolph performs onstage during the Poetic Justice 2015 Fundraiser for Coalition for Engaged Education on May 7, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images
Actress Maya Rudolph performs onstage during the Poetic Justice 2015 Fundraiser for Coalition for Engaged Education on May 7, 2015 in Santa Monica, California.

When Maya Rudolph addressed the class of 2015 at Tulane University's commencement in New Orleans Saturday, she brought along a couple of her famous friends.

The "SNL" alum did a few of her famous impressions, including Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce, during a 17-minute speech that had the audience in stitches.

"Look Under Your Seats!" Rudolph cried out, channeling Winfrey. "Because you are all leaving here today with a COLLEGE DIPLOMA!!! YOU GET A COLLEGE DIPLOMA! YOU GET A COLLEGE DIPLOMA!"

The highlight was when the comedian asked the audience to rise for the national anthem.

For the next four minutes, Rudolph had the audience cracking up with her unforgettable impersonation of Beyonce singing the national anthem. Of course, she had to throw a little "Single Ladies" and "Drunk in Love" into the mix.

Though the speech was high on laughs, Rudolph did take a serious moment to share some advice with the graduates while revealing the dreams she once had as a young college student.

"During senior year, my father asked me what I planned to do after I graduated, and I told him I want to be on 'Saturday Night Live,'" she shared. "But until that moment, I never wanted to admit that being on 'SNL' was my dream. I never wanted to admit that I was a thespian."

She added, "And this was back in the days when people weren’t really talking about being thespians. Before thespians could marry."

Then, more seriously, she said, "So if I must give any of you advice it would be say yes. Say yes, and create your own destiny."

A little further north at Atlanta's Georgia Dome, fellow comedian Steve Harvey was also talking about his dreams while addressing Strayer University's 2015 class of graduates.

"When I was in the sixth grade, a teacher asked me as an assignment to write on a piece of paper what you want to be when you grow up," he said. "I wrote on a piece of paper I wanted to be on TV. She read everyone's paper off, had them stand up. When she got to me, she had me come up to the front of the class. I'm thinking, this is it. I'm finally going to get me a gold star. I went up there, she destroyed me. She got me in front of all them kids and told me, 'How can you write such a ridiculous thing?'"

The year was 1968 and the only black person on television at the time was Bill Cosby.

When Harvey got home, he told his dad what happened. The talk show host said his father told him, "Don't worry about her. Read your paper every morning and every night."

Then, breaking down into tears, he said, "I read that paper every day, every night 'til I was 19. I don't know if you notice or not, but if you turn your TV on there's that little black boy on there every day."

Harvey had a final message to the graduates.

"It is impossible for an impossible thought to enter your mind," he said. "If it's in your head -- it's possible."

Comments