Natalie Portman talks insecurity, ‘Black Swan’ in Harvard Class Day speech

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At Harvard, Natalie Portman acknowledges what many of us feel: Impostor syndrome.

“Today I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999,” she said. “I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.” Portman, who apologized for not being a comedian, did make the crowd laugh— and perhaps cry— as she recalled her progression into stardom despite breakdowns and sleepless nights spent in Harvard’s library. Natalie Portman opened up to Harvard University‘s Class of 2015 in a frank, personal commencement speech Wednesday, as she discussed her desire to be taken seriously as an intellectual when she attended the school a decade and a half ago.Portman said of her time making the movie ‘Black Swan,’ which won her a Best Actress Oscar, ‘If I had known my own limitations, I never would have taken the risk.Natalie Portman advised graduating Harvard seniors Wednesday to use their inexperience to their advantage, saying she has learned that taking calculated risks can lead to life-changing rewards.

The Academy Award-winning actress, speaking at Harvard College’s Class Day, cited her work in “Black Swan” as an example of a time she didn’t know her own limitations — and it paid off. Driven by these insecurities, I decided that I was going to find something to do at Harvard that was serious and meaningful that would change the world and make it a better place. The star graduated from the prestigious Ivy League school in 2003 with a degree in psychology, and more than a decade later, she was asked to be the keynote speaker at Harvard College’s Class Day ceremony, an honor she dubbed “one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been asked to do.” During her speech, Portman admitted that when she first enrolled to the university, as an already accomplished actress, she feared her peers thought she was not serious about her education.

The film, “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. “Make use of the fact that you don’t doubt yourself too much right now because, as we get older, we get more realistic,” she told the graduating seniors. “Accept your lack of knowledge and use it as your asset.” Portman’s address was a highlight of Wednesday’s events, which also included award presentations and student speeches. When I got to my graduation, sitting where you sit today, after four years of trying to get excited about something else, I admitted to myself that I couldn’t wait to go back and make more films. Any makeup tips?” Portman’s happy ending at Harvard wasn’t always clear. “It’s easy now to romanticize my time here, but I had some very difficult times here too. I felt immune to the worst things people could say or write about me. … I was so oblivious to my own limits that I did things I was woefully unprepared to do. Upon her win, former professors and mentors described her as a diligent and intelligent student. “It was very clear when she was a student that she is a very determined person and capable of focused effort over a sustained period,” Stephen M.

So the very inexperience that in college had made me insecure … now was making me actually take risks I didn’t even realize were risks.” “Achievement is wonderful when you know why you’re doing it,” she concluded. “When you don’t know, it can be a terrible trap. … If your reasons are your own, your path, even if it’s a strange and clumsy path, will be wholly yours, and you will control the rewards of what you do by making your internal life fulfilling.” Kosslyn, a former Harvard psychology professor and former dean of social sciences, told the school paper. “She is now demonstrating the results of that determination and focus.” Alan M. Dershowitz, who said Portman was in his neuropsychology and the law class, told the Crimson that “she was a terrific student” who earned an A+ on a paper — “the highest grade in the class,” the newspaper noted.

Abigail Baird, her mentor at Harvard, told the New York Times: “I’ve taught at Harvard, Dartmouth and Vassar, and I’ve had the privilege of teaching a lot of very bright kids.

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