Actress Sarah Jessica Parker stopped short of giving advice to Harvard Law School’s graduating class Wednesday afternoon, offering instead nine of her biggest hopes for the soon-to-be lawyers in her keynote address at the school’s Class Day ceremony.
After first wondering whether the school had, in fact, meant to invite some other trinomial talent like, say, Mary Louise Parker or perhaps Neil Patrick Harris, the actress best known for her role on HBO’s “Sex and the City” said her “hopes” were actually a form of advice, or “experience’s boring cousin that no one really likes.”
“Thinking of this next chapter of your lives, I want to stand in front of every train that will hit you,” she said. “The thoughts I offer today are the same I offer to my own children. . . . I want to be there to assure you that you will recover from heartbreak, to convince you on your most blue day that you will not always feel so alone, to remind you not to sacrifice your integrity even when it might feel a much more swift avenue toward your goal, to whisper in your ear that other people’s opinion of you doesn’t have to be the opinion you keep of yourself, to encourage you to think twice before saying nothing.”
She emphasized self-awareness and sincerity and she hopes graduates “maintain [individuality]” and “learn to wrangle [their] fear.”
“Personally, I seem to encounter fear a lot,” Parker said. “I’m like a heat-seeking missile, I’m on a blind date with fear a lot . . . I encourage you to capture your fear, harness it, direct it.”
But even as she encouraged the newly minted law school grads to look within, she warned against forgetting the object of their work.
“At its heart, in its very essence and purpose, our work is about people,” said the actress, who played a prosecutor in the short-lived TV series “Equal Justice.” “The beauty of a dramatic moment or perfectly reasoned argument is meaningless in a world separate from the people it affects.”
With that, flashing her stiletto-sharp rom-com timing one last time, Parker adjourned her court and sent the audience forth.
“I know you are ready,” she smiled. “The people rest.”