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127th Spring Commencement
Robert Rodriguez
Marcia Gay Harden

Commencement Speaker

Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden will deliver the commencement address during the 127th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin.

"I'm thrilled and honored to speak to these bright young minds, ready to go out and improve our world," said Harden. "They are the new philosophers, scientists, artists and economists, and it will be exciting to watch them discover their gifts."

Harden received her Bachelor of Arts in Drama with honors from The University of Texas at Austin in 1980 and was named a Distinguished Alumna of the university in 2008. She holds the rare distinction as an actress of having won both an Academy Award for her work in film and a Tony Award for her work on stage.

"We are very proud of Marcia and the many awards and honors she has earned throughout her very distinguished acting career," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "Her amazing ability to transform words on a script into the role of a believable character is truly remarkable, and her tenacious spirit that has brought her this far makes us proud to say she is one of our own."

Harden's character portraits have been described by critics as searing, heartbreaking, inventive, pure and profane simultaneously, astonishing, authentic and sensuous. From the glamorous Ava Gardner in "Sinatra," to the artist Lee Krasner in "Pollock" (for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar), to the down and out Celeste in "Mystic River" (for which she received another Academy Award nomination), Harden has created a signature style based in character transformation. Her versatility and wide range have been praised in such films as "Millers Crossing," "The First Wives Club," "Meet Joe Black," "Mona Lisa Smile," "The Hoax" and "Used People."

In 2009, Harden garnered a Best Actress Tony Award for her starring role in the Tony Award-winning Broadway play "God of Carnage." She received an Outer Circle Critics Award for her performance, as well as nominations from the Drama Desk and Drama League. She was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler." Other nominations include a Tony Award nomination for Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" (for which she won the Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards), an Emmy nomination for her guest appearance on "Law and Order: SVU" and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for "American Gun."

Harden’s recent films include “Canvas,” “Rails and Ties,” “The Mist” (for which she won a Saturn Award), “Into the Wild,” “The Christmas Cottage,” and “Whip It,” in which Harden’s daughter, Eulala Scheel, has a co-starring role.

Harden received her master of fine arts degree from the graduate acting program at New York University. She lives in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City with her husband and three children.