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The impact and wisdom of Phylicia Rashad

Mere hours before taking the main stage of a packed house at the JW Marriot on May 9th, Phylicia Rashad met with forty journalism, communications and drama students from four Indianapolis schools.  Both poised and personal, Ms. Rashad greeted each person as she walked in, making her way to the front of the little room filled to the brim with enthusiastic middle school, high school and college scholars.  She moved deliberately

and spoke with great intention. The chatter of excited young people immediately went silent as Phylicia Rashad’s graceful and powerful presence filled the room.  She began to share from her heart and life as an actress, singer, stage director, woman, and mother.  From that point on, the students were glued to her every word.  

She described speaking with students as her greatest pleasure.  While best known as an actor and director, she clearly is a teacher too.  She thoughtfully answered all inquiries with stories from her youth, her vast experience as a distinguished professional, and her rewarding life as a mother.  She repeatedly urged the students to recognize their power.  To understand, “no one gave you that power and no one can take your power away.”

Ms. Rashad also spoke fondly of her days at Howard University.   She described her time there as a unique space to really learn and know herself.  She called the young academics to pursue their passions not for fame or money but out of love for the work and their art.  She encouraged the students, “to pray for times to see yourself in others and know yourself.” Throughout her talk, the power of knowing oneself was a resounding theme.

Asia Van Horn, a soon-to-be college freshman, summed up her morning well saying, 

“When I asked her what advice she had for young actors, she talked about how so much of acting is about having a good understanding of who you are as a person. This advice couldn't have come at a better time in my life. As a recent graduate, I've been thinking a lot about my career path and the type of person that I want to be. Her advice really touched me and reassured me that I am on the right path. After the interview I felt (and still feel) so empowered and inspired to go after my dreams. I want to thank you again for inviting me and allowing me to participate in this interview. I will never forget this experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity.”

Thank you for your continued partnership with Steward Speakers!  Because of you, students like Asia Van Horn can have the opportunity to learn directly from some of the best and brightest leaders and world changers.  Students, like Asia, returned to their schools empowered and inspired to know themselves, persevere in their passions, and change the world with their art.  The impact of a moment like this cannot be measured.  It is irreplaceable and may, in fact, be the catalyst for many students to find the strength they need to chase down their dreams. Thank you for making this happen!

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