Angela Bassett receives honorary doctorate from Old Dominion University

The legendary actress earned the honor the same weekend she delivered the commencement address to over 500 ODU graduates.

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Angela Bassett has received an honorary doctorate from Old Dominion University in Virginia, the acclaimed actress announced on Friday. 

As reported by People, Bassett received the honor the same weekend she delivered the commencement address to more than 500 ODU graduates. She shared the news on social media, posting a photo of herself holding her framed Doctor of Humane Letters degree along with the caption: “Education is truly the KEY! #stillmakingmymommaproud.”

Angela Bassett attends the “American Buffalo” opening night on Broadway at Circle in the Square Theatre on April 14, 2022, in New York City. (Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

 “When I speak to graduates, I often compare the road to leadership and legacy to learning to walk in your own shoes, rather than trying to fill someone else’s,” she said to the graduates, WTVR reported.  “And I say this because when we buy a new pair, it takes some time for those shoes to feel like they’re truly ours. By this, I want you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable as you enter into this new chapter.”

Bassett urged the graduates to embrace the challenges that come with leadership and encouraged them to take risks.

“As you go out into the world today as graduates, always remember this: The great poet Nikki Giovanni once said, ‘I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure. But I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try,’” she maintained.

“Monarchs, you didn’t come this far to come this far,” Bassett continued. “You came this far to excel. You came this far to soar to heights that you, your parents, your grandparents, your ancestors sacrificed and prayed for you to reach.”

Bassett, an alumna of Yale University, is known for her award-winning Hollywood career that spans three decades. Her film and television credits include What’s Love Got to Do with It, Black Panther, Mission Impossible – Fallout, Malcolm X, 9-1-1 on Fox, and American Horror Story, to name a few.

“Thanks to a little film called Black Panther, I think I know a little bit about royalty … well, fictional royalty at least,” Bassett joked while speaking to the graduates about honoring the values represented by ODU’s mascot, the Monarch, a lion donning a crown on its head. 

“It’s about your leadership and your legacy,” she asserted. “That’s the real crown that I want you to wear every day when you step out into the world.”

Bassett holds an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College as well as an honorary doctorate from her alma mater. She shared on Instagram that she is “happy and humbled” to receive her Doctor of Humane Letters from Old Dominion. 

Watch her full ODU commencement speech below.

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