Rainn Wilson is known for portraying the hilarious character of Dwight Schrute on the classic sitcom ‘The Office.’
His trademark wit was definitely in play during a recent commencement speech in Chicago. He reserved the right to deliver some poignant and weighty advice. Specifically, he addressed the largely affluent graduating class at New Trier High School. Rainn Wilson graduated from the same school and began with some good natured jokes about the school’s reputation. He started with a mocking definition of the school’s mascot.
“For those of you who don’t know, a Trevian is a person from Trier, Germany, who was given a BMW on their 16th birthday," he said.
Here’s what he had to say to students often described as ‘rich kids’:
Rainn Wilson threw in a few more jokes about the wealthy backgrounds represented in the arena. For example, he cited the location of the ceremony. The wealthy students received diplomas from inside the Sears Center. That seemed ironic “considering probably not a single person in this room has ever set foot inside a Sears.”
He smoothly transitioned into some weighty advice regarding what to do with their social head start. “We’re a privileged bunch in many ways," Wilson said. "Most of us have come from money, have some money, most of us are white-skinned, and come from families where there’s been a tremendous amount of success. Most of us are going to get an amazing secondary education. And for most of us, the doors to the business world, or the art world, or political world, or science world will be wide open for us."
“This is not something I ever want you to feel bad about.”
Rainn Wilson made it clear he was not lecturing the students on their background. That privilege is nothing to feel guilty about, he said. But it should be a motivating factor to use that position for the betterment of others. He said privilege should lead people “not to be entitled” and “not to be superior” to others. He challenged students to “acknowledge our privilege and do whatever we can to help those who don’t have it.”
Not a guilt trip, but an opportunity.
Clearly, Rainn Wilson wanted the graduates to go out into the world ready to be a positive change.
"The world is hurting from disunity and injustice, and we need to do more," he said.
We hope his message of unity and social activism inspired you as much as it inspired us. If you'd like to keep up with Wilson's acting career, click here for his IMDB page.
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