VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Even without a typical graduation ceremony the Kitsilano Class of 2020 still received a commencement speech they probably won’t forget.
With Vitamin C’s Graduation subtly playing in the background, Vancouver-born Ryan Reynolds, and former Kitsilano graduate, delivered a humourous and touching tribute to the graduating class in a YouTube video.
The actor reflects on his memories of the school, specifically giving a shout out to his old friend, and current teacher Jonah Eckert, who he remembered with frosted-tips and always wearing shorts, “even if it was minus 20.”
“Also I remember when we were graduating, he was super excited because he was going to start a money-laundering operation with the Cartel in southern Mexico. But I guess becoming a teacher was plan B?” he says.
He jokes about the impromptu nature of the speech saying it wasn’t completely planned what’s he’s going to say like he’s “phoning it in”, similar to his final years in high school. He does explain he only spent his final two years at the high school after being “invited to leave” his previous school.
“Which looking back, was just a very Canadian way of kicking me out,” Reynolds says. “But needless to say, Kits was the best thing that ever happened to me at that point.”
Kidding aside, Reynolds still had some important advice for the students about to enter into an uncertain world.
“One thing that’s worked for me is practising some form of compassion every day. Whether it’s for yourself or someone else, especially for someone else is good,” he says.
“But you’ve heard the expression divide and conquer. You see it everywhere, and dividing people is just a means to distract them, disarm them, whereby giving one an opportunity to conquer and the world seems to subsist on this idea more, and more, and more, and it’s getting really f***ing boring.”
He points to the graduating class as the generation that’s going to make a difference and be ahead of the curve. Reynolds encourages them to practise empathy while downplaying the notion of success, specifically taking a jab at his own performance in The Green Lantern.
“But I’ll tell you this, empathy has gotten me more, so much farther, not only in my life but in my career. Mirroring, empathizing, validating, someone else’s experience or point of view is just about the radical act of ambition that you can ever demonstrate.”
Empathy, Reynolds says, is the reason behind much of his success, connections, and acceptance of mistakes.
“Above all, it made me happy, and it’s something I’ll be probably be working on my whole life,” he says.
Then, in true Reynolds fashion, he dials back the emotions for just a second to make a joke about more adult jokes as a possibility for a university commencement speech.
“Not that you have to go to university. God knows I didn’t,” he says.
And as his final parting gift to the class of 2020, Reynolds ends the video by saying every grad is getting a pizza from Nat’s Pizzeria.