Kerry Washington to Graduates 'You Completed This Journey'

Hollywood actress gives 2013 commencement address at George Washington University.
16:00 | 05/19/13

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Transcript for Kerry Washington to Graduates 'You Completed This Journey'
Yeah I. Year -- yeah. President -- Trustee and friends family fellow honorees and most evolved class of 2013. -- -- -- -- -- They have great city. If you back on -- lips in DC it seems like just yesterday I was here for my own commencement ceremony. Like many of you my parents are here today. And I think we should not take one more moment to thank our loved ones for being here and her being a source of love and support throughout the journey that led -- -- That's tomorrow -- -- that I'm wearing belongs to my mother Dr. Barry Washington. In my profession it is important to dressed for the part. So when my mother offered me her -- for today I gratefully accepted it is my hope. That even at tiny bit of her insight and grace be in -- in my words to you. I am proud to be here I'm shaking. And tremendously. Grateful for the honorary degree you've bestowed on me and I would spend the next few minutes trying to -- it. But I have to admit that I even more proud. Of the GW -- it took me. Four years a lot of sleepless nights student loans study groups and more than a few drinks -- ladies to -- I'll -- we called it the red lion back and so I stand here today in solidarity. With you -- the proud alumnus this institution. I celebrate EU. And I welcome you into the great lineage and legacy of GW. Today -- join the ranks of award winning journalists like Bob Woodward and Dana -- states men and women like my cousin Colin Powell. Elected leaders like Harry Reid and Eric cancer. Civil rights champions like the Rowell. -- -- you may. Yeah yeah -- -- their pets like doctor William -- who founded Operation Smile taste makers from Jackie Kennedy I know garden. Astronauts like Michael coats and I knew this day I'm sorry. And business -- like doctor Ralph Al. I am of course talking about the theory not the television show. You enjoying an impressive tradition and our commencement. Is part of that tradition and year after year GW sends its graduates into the world on the wings have -- bites from esteemed. Leaders and thinkers and this year. You got me. -- -- -- -- -- Now I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking we're celebrating our academic getting -- actual achievement with that lady was having an affair with the president on that TV show I now. I get it. On television I play a character who is Smart and powerful and successful Olivia Pope could give you all some advice on making it to -- -- But in real life I'm just an actor. I think for ten. I tell stories. So bear with me because that is what I'm going to deal. When I first arrived at GW. I didn't think I would be an actor I dreamt of being a psychologist or an educator like my mother. From an early age I was fascinated with people and how we become who we are but act -- That was a hobby. A hotly however that helped me pay for my education here as you heard. In my senior year high school GW offered me financial aid as a member of the presidential scholars and the arts program. And while I did not. And why did not have to do major and acting. There were several requirements among the -- was the stipulation. That I had to audition for every single performance produced by the theatre and -- department. More on that in a minute so instead of studying how to pretending to be people. I studied people. I decided interdisciplinary major in various -- social sciences. Psychology sociology. History and anthropology and one of the things nice and one -- staying. That fascinated me most was the importance of storytelling. In every culture and in every moment of human existence the ritual of storytelling. Has been a central -- of our experience. Because it is through stories that we understand ourselves and each other. When we engage in a story whether it's a great novel or film -- documentary we learn more about who we are who we want to be who we don't want to be. And it not away stories transform us as we journey along with the hero -- any story we realize that we too. Are -- lead characters of our own lives. I am here today to remind each of you that you are the heroes of your story. And I'm not just referring to your her relative victory over Georgetown in the 2010 snow may get in snowball fight. You -- my eight. Is your story. And the adventure I had -- EU is the journey to -- -- your own purpose and potential. So I want to share a little something with you about stories and about heroes enough about how this all works. It was -- GW that I first read the work of Joseph Campbell and what attracted me to his writing with the concept of the hero's journey he wrote. The hero's journey always begins with -- call. One way or another guy must come and say look you're in sleepy land awake come on a trip. There is an aspect of your conscious next you're being that's not being passed and so it starts. This call to adventure. Is what we call -- film the inciting incident it's an invitation. Out of your comfort zone and into your strength. Because by definition being a hero requires pushing beyond the bounds of what's comfortable out. In 1986 and my junior year here I had to push beyond the bounds up my comfort zone. The musical that here which as you know I was required. To audition for. Was entitled. Croak the last crop. It -- a beautiful musical. About frogs. By TW's own a professor Leslie Jacobson who now. I have to be honest with you eat was not my life time dream role to play -- In fact the thought -- bit terrified me. Scared that the role would be too difficult. And afraid of the embarrassment that would result from my failed attempts. I wondered if there was some away that I could get out of this audition. This is what Campbell described as phase two of the heroes dirty the refusal of the call. You've experienced -- an exciting opportunity presents -- -- but our fear makes us believe that we're not capable of meeting the challenge. There are seventeen stages of the hero's journey -- Campbell describes it but don't worry I'm not going to go through all of them. What I would tell you is that I crossed the threshold. In two unknown territory meaning I showed up for my audition because I believed in the message of the production a message of love. And family and environmental conservation and I wanted to support Leslie Jacobs and my brilliant professor and my mentor. And I had to fulfill my scholarship requirements because as many of you probably relate to I wanted to complete my degree and graduate. -- I answered the call. I pushed past my comfort zone and when I DA -- I won the role so now I within the belly of the whale. Now I had to be willing to beat the -- rock. Again. I was terrified. This was a serious musical with important dramatic themes how -- -- to the role and bring life to the character in -- way. That make people think and feel. Rather than giggle and a mock us. So I approached the role as a social scientist the way GW taught me to I thought I'm going to study. Frogs. I went to the zoo happen -- Park and I spent hours watching -- I read about -- I held frogs I watched -- documentaries. I figured out ways to please visit glad -- my performance of the -- without seeming to be a cartoon. I based my -- and I stepped out onto that Marvin center stage. He came -- role that transformed my thinking about how I use my body to do. What I do every single day and more and importantly. Two did today it is my father's most favorite thing I'd ever done. Seriously -- -- can't. Here is and how you too can be a -- The last thing is that you are sitting here today because he used to learned how to answer the call. Your degree is proof. That you have what it takes to take. Taken the leap into the adventure of you are unique experience. You don't earn a degree by doing and being an existing in the comfort zone of what you already know. Still whether it's taking two years or -- and to get today's degree I want you to look back on the journey that brought you here. What moments challenged you most. When -- you asked to step outside of -- -- familiar territory in order to rise to the occasion of your potential. How have you pushed past your fear. I want you to remember those moments because they will Kimball the new and -- you and remind you that you did this. You've completed this journey you answered the call and now. You can continue to do so but the truth is yours. When you leave here today and -- the next stage of your life you can follow someone else's script. Try to make choices that will make other people happy avoided discomfort. Do what is expected and copy the status quo -- our. You can look at all that you have accomplished today. And -- it adds fuel to venture for -- and write your own story. If you do amazing things we'll take shape. Look at the stories you've already begun writing stories of warrior poets like -- -- next him. Who served for five years in Iraq and has been working with local high school students to turn veterans' personal essays into art projects. Today as a graduate of the Elliott school. She along with 152. Other student veterans where they -- and gallon instead of a uniform. -- -- -- -- idealistic pragmatists like Daniel let's -- and Winslow Marshal who started up pack. On the believe that paint our policy makers to shared drinks will lead to -- dialogue. When they hosted a summit on campus they proved that a beer can go a long way towards bipartisan bipartisan. Bipartisan -- -- Stories about agents of change like MBA grad shots black -- haven't will be returning home to -- province in India. When he steps off the plane he'll -- immediately onto the campaign trail for state assembly. And continue to fight to a bad -- poverty and disease. Stories -- any act. Story. Innovators like -- that participated in the -- like to cast a line. Champions for women's right. Champions for labor rights. Scientific leaders in the field against climate change your stories astound me. Your list of accomplishments is as long as the list of graduates today. Because as you sit here you are not only graduates. You are adventurers. And my eyes. You are heroes who have based fears and -- -- risks and forged ahead. To conquer one of the most important chapters of your life. Now that you've achieved the goal of this great -- now you must ready yourself for when the call to adventure comes again. And when it does. Don't follow that half prescribed by someone -- Don't give into fear. Continue. To define -- you -- unique pack in the eight. And with the experience -- -- accomplished adventure that you are. You. And you alone. Aren't the only person who can live the life that writes. This story that you were meant to -- And the world needs your story because the world needs you -- voice. Every. Single. One -- you. And because as your story unfolds. You will inspire others to find that their stories and so line and so on and sell wine and those stories. George Washington graduates of the class of 2013. Those are the stories that I can't wait to watch -- back. Don't be surprised if you get a call from me wanting to -- -- really good ones and turned them into movies because I'm so Hollywood now. -- -- May god bless you and all that you do it is an honor to share this day with you I promise you that you will be hearing from the love. And that into. I promise you that sooner -- you know it you'll be hearing from the alumni association. Very -- so again. Congratulations. And welcome to the club.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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