With the pandemic altering plans for commencement ceremonies, stars such as Kevin Hart and Oprah Winfrey are giving a helping hand in celebrating the class of 2020.
As the novel coronavirus pandemic has prompted the closing down of schools, a myriad of Hollywood stars and famous figures are doing their part in ensuring the class of 2020 is still celebrated.
Though students are unable to don their cap and gown and take the graduation stage to receive their diplomas, stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart and Awkwafina are taking part in virtual events dedicated to graduating students.
Winfrey is set to deliver the commencement speech during a Facebook and Instagram event, #Graduation 2020, whereas Hart, Serena Williams and Stephen Curry are encouraging students to "show off their walk" in a virtual celebration. Meanwhile, Her Campus — the female-focused company that owns Spoon University, College Fashionista and InfluenceHer Collective — is organizing an online graduation ceremony called I'm Still Graduating alongside stars such as Eva Longoria and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Over on the podcast front, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Fallon and John Legend are among the bold-faced names recording speeches for graduating seniors.
Below, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at recent or upcoming virtual graduation events so far (the list will be updated as more celebrations are announced).
In collaboration with Chase Bank, stars such as Kevin Hart, Serena Williams and Stephen Curry are doing their part in making sure graduating students can still show off their walk. Aware that students are missing out on "milestones and moments" amid the pandemic, the actor and the athletes are hoping to give students the opportunity to show off their walk and "onstage pose" in their virtual graduation party, #ShowMeYourWalk. "You've earned that diploma so show out," Williams said in a video message announcing the event. "We're going to make sure this is bigger than big," Hart said.
Join me, @KevinHart4real and @StephenCurry30 for a special live moment on May 2nd for all 2020 grads on @Chase Twitter and YouTube. Get ready for a virtual graduation walk like no other! Share the word and tag a 2020 grad below. #ShowMeYourWalk pic.twitter.com/KoIwOsKn4r
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) April 29, 2020
After launching his weekly YouTube series Some Good News, aimed to offer joyful stories amid the coronavirus pandemic, John Krasinski is now hoping to give the class of 2020 a graduation celebration.
"Alright, that’s it, enough is enough. All you graduates of 2020? After all those long hours you’ve put in. All the hard work you’ve put in.... you’re gettin a graduation!" the actor and director wrote in a tweet announcing the event. "And that’s all there is to it! This week! I’m there with tassels on!" Calling the event #SGNgraduation, Krasinski asked for class valedictorians to send him videos of their speeches. He also asked graduating students — including those graduating from middle school, high school and college — to send questions for their commencement speaker to answer at the mock ceremony, set for Sunday.
The occasion will mark the second time Krasinski has worked to celebrate students. He unveiled a virtual prom in early April with a number of star guests, including Billie Eilish and Jonas Brothers, for those unable to attend their end-of-the-year dance. Wearing a tuxedo, Krasinski acted as a prom attendee.
Her Campus is teaming with a variety of stars to deliver the "best commencement ever." The event, dubbed #ImStillGraduating, will celebrate the class of 2020 with a virtual party set to feature appearances from Eva Longoria, Nico Tortorella, Frankie J. Grande, Marcia Gay harden, Liam Payne, Andrew Yang, Jesse McCartney, Billie Jean King, Margaret Cho, Rebecca Minkoff and more. Teyana Taylor (Artist, Director, Actress), Jodi Kantor, Kealia Ohai Watt, Logan Browning (Actress), Cecile Richards (Co-Founder of Supermajority), Claire Babineaux-Fontenot (CEO of Feeding America), Alex Keith (CEO of P&G Beauty), Lennon Stella, Natalya Neidhart (WWE Superstar), Michelle McQuality Kelly (CEO of Lilly Pulitzer) and Whitney Wolfe Herd (Founder and CEO of Bumble) will also join the celebrations.
Musical performances include sets from Payne, Austin Mahone, McCartney, Drax Project, Grouplove, Jack Gilinsky, Alec Benjamin, Brynn Elliott, Laura Marano and Isabela Merced. In addition, Dear Evan Hansen star Stephen Christopher Anthony will sing “For Forever” with a special introduction by the Dear Evan Hansen Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winning creative team Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Steven Levenson.
"In putting together this event, it was incredibly important to us that the students themselves have a voice and play a prominent role in their own graduation. We were so moved by the submissions we received and are thrilled to highlight these unbelievable graduates and have them speak and perform for viewers worldwide alongside industry icons," said Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Co-Founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus Media. "This graduation is all about the Class of 2020, so it was pivotal to us that Class of 2020 students don’t just get to watch it, but actually get to play an integral part in the event."
Graduating students could apply to address the class of 2020 in a speech and/or perform for attendees, whether it be singing, dancing or showing off a talent. Students were also encouraged to nominate a speaker or performer they'd love to see on the virtual stage. The event will support leading nonprofit organization Active Minds, created to aid in impacting young adult mental health and coinciding with May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
Facebook and Instagram are set to have a star-studded, multi-hour live event that will stream on both social media platforms. The event, #Graduation 2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020, will welcome Oprah Winfrey as the commencement speaker. Other notable names set to make an appearance and speak on the live stream include Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X and Simone Biles, while Miley Cyrus will serve as the musical guest and perform her 2009 hit song "The Climb." #Graduation 2020 will be broadcast on Facebook Watch and will be available on facebook.com/facebookapp, with portions of the live stream posted to the official @Instagram account on Instagram, as well as on contributors’ accounts.
Though not necessarily a virtual party, iHeartMedia has assembled a star-studded slate of commencement speakers to offer up words of wisdom that students can hear on their iHeart podcast special Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020, available on iHeartRadio and other podcast platforms.
Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Fallon and John Legend are some of the bold-faced names slated to record speeches specifically for graduating seniors unable to have a ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic. The missives will be available May 15 as part of the special.
Others expected to record speeches for the podcast include cosmetics entrepreneur Bobbi Brown, comedian Chelsea Handler, restaurateur David Chang, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, former NFL quarterback Eli Manning, NPR correspondent Guy Raz, journalist Katie Couric, TV personality Dr. Oz, Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, actress Sienna Miller, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle and Epic Records CEO Sylvia Rhone. Several recording artists, including Halsey, Kesha, DJ Khaled, Khalid, Pitbull and Tim McGraw, are also participating.
Ryan Seacrest, Enrique Santos, Angie Martinez, Bobby Bones, Jake Brennan, Angela Yee and Woody will also record speeches. More speakers are expected to be added.
NBA superstar LeBron James is partnering with Laurene Powell Jobs' XQ Institute and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to host a virtual graduation ceremony and one-hour special called Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.
Together, they've enlisted a variety of of actors, musicians, athletes and activists to participate in the festivities, including Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Ben Platt, Lena Waithe, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Bad Bunny, Malala Yousafzai, Chika, YBN Cordae, Loren Gray, H.E.R., Brandan Bmike Odums and TikTok-ers Charli and Dixie D'Amelio.
Barack Obama will also deliver a commencement message during the event, joined by several high-school students that are part of the Obama Foundation's work, including seniors from Chicago public schools and members of the Obama Youth Jobs Corps.
The commercial-free special will air simultaneously across all broadcast platforms — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — and on a host of leading entertainment, social media and streaming platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, PeopleTV and Complex Networks. The event will include commencement speeches, performances and inspirational vignettes. Using the hashtag #GraduateTogether, students, educators and families are invited to submit their own videos and photos online for consideration to be included in the telecast.
Random House is enlisting a myriad of stars who have published works to a virtual commencement celebration called Random House Presents Virtual Commencement. The event that will be hosted on Zoom, with inspiring authors such as Martha Stewart, Lauren Graham, Donovan Livingston and more set to toast the year's graduating students.
George Saunders (Congratulations, By the Way), Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore), Reshma Saujani (Brave, Not Perfect), David Brooks (The Second Mountain) and Anna Quindlen (A Short Guide to a Happy Life) are also set to appear.
Each ticket includes event admission and a book from one of the featured authors, with the option to purchase additional books at a 20 percent discount.
The Zoom celebration is set to take place Tuesday, May 12, at 8 p.m. ET.
To honor graduating students, YouTube will stream a virtual commencement titled, Dear Class of 2020, headlined by former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
During the multi-hour livestream event, inspirational leaders, stars and creators will join the celebration. The Obamas will each deliver commencement speeches — as well as a joint message — to this year's graduates. Additionally, Michelle Obama's Higher Reach initiative will host a full hour of content kicking off the celebration.
A myriad of stars are set to serve as commencement speakers including Beyonce, BTS, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, CEO of Alphabet and Google Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai. BTS and others will perform at a virtual grad night afterparty.
Dear Class of 2020 will also include appearances from Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Rowland, Kevin Durant, Finneas, Bill and Melinda Gates, Liza Koshy, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya, Nikkie De Jager, Mark Rober, YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, Emma Chamberlain, and The Try Guys.
BTS, Camila Cabello, Chloe x Halle, CNCO, Doja Cat, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Maluma and Meghan Thee Stallion will perform music during the event.
Dear Class of 2020 will take place on Sunday, June 7.
Natural Light is set to throw a virtual Worldwide Commencement on Facebook Live and Instagram on May 14, enlisting a myriad of stars to celebrate the class of 2020. Comedian Adam Devine will serve as the event's headline speaker, with Machine Gun Kelly set as musical guest. The event will not only welcome graduation seniors to celebrate together but will also feature multiple speeches from additional guests including entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith, actress Jane Lynch, Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini and Ludacris. The event will stream on Thursday, May 14 at p.m. PT.