Jane Lynch, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress of film, television and theater, spoke at Smith College's 134th commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 20.
"You are about to receive a piece of paper that proves to the world you are now fit to join the ranks of an elite and tremendously powerful group of game-changing women," she told the students. "Smith women have transformed cuisine, spearheaded social movements, created great literature and, in the case of my friend Piper, class of '92, even gone to prison! But damnit - when a Smithie goes to prison - she writes a clever and compelling book about it!"
Watch a video of Lynch at the podium below, and for the full text of the speech, click here!
Lynch is currently best known for her role as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester in the Fox musical-comedy series GLEE. As a member of the cast, Lynch has captured the attention of all ages by bringing to pop culture an awareness of pervasive stereotypes. The mirror that she has turned on audiences reflects what remains to be accomplished – disabusing prejudice about disability,
sexuality – in a culture that otherwise aspires to champion diversity.
Lynch is a veteran of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company and the Second City comedy troupe. At the time of her audition, she was one of just two women picked to join Second City. Since adding film and television to her credentials, she has wooed audiences by playing memorable roles in such notable comedies as "Best in Show," "The 40-year-old Virgin," and "Role Models."
After graduating from Illinois State University, Lynch earned a Master of Fine Arts in acting from Cornell University. Last year, she hosted the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards show, only the third woman in history to host the program solo. In addition to her Emmy and Golden Globe awards, Lynch has won Screen Actors Guild and People's Choice awards for her work on GLEE.