On May 11, 2019, Sutton Foster addressed the class of 2019 at Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s commencement ceremony. It was a striking moment, as the Broadway star, who will return to the stage in 2020 opposite Hugh Jackman in The Music Man, never graduated college.
Foster has been a Broadway staple since she made her debut in the 1995 revival of Grease as a Sandy Dumbrowski replacement. However, before that, she dropped out of school not once, but twice.
The first time she dropped out of school was high school so she could join the national tour of The Will Rogers Follies directed by Tommy Tune. (She later received her GED via correspondence courses.) The second time was Carnegie Mellon University after one year. She told Broadway.com, “Carnegie Mellon was very challenging, I had just come off a national tour, and I wasn’t ready to learn anything new. And I couldn’t see paying $25,000 a year if I wasn’t sure this was what I was meant to do.”
But at Boston Conservatory, Foster knew exactly what she was meant to do: present truth to a graduating class of artists.
In her speech above, she presents three pieces of advice to the class of 2019. They are:
1. Say “yes.”
To emphasize this, she quoted the song Yes! by Kander and Ebb. The lyrics she chose were:
Life keeps happenin’ every day
When opportunity comes your way
You can’t start wonderin’ what to say
You’ll never win if you never play
2. “Trust your gut, even if others don’t agree. Because in the end… it will have been your choice. So own your choice.”
3. Get a hobby that doesn’t involve waiting for the phone to ring or waiting for someone else to give you permission.
Interspersed throughout her speech were throwbacks to show tunes, including Les Misérables’ “On My Own,” and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “Rose’s Turn.”
You can watch the whole video above. Let us know what you think of Sutton’s advice below.