Marcia Gay Harden, a University of Texas at Austin graduate who has received an Oscar, a Best Actress Tony Award and numerous other honors throughout her career, will be the speaker for the 127th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 22, 2010.
Her speech will be presented on the university's Main Mall in front of the Tower during a festive ceremony that traditionally draws thousands of students, their parents and guests to the campus.
"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 degree in drama with honors from The University of Texas at Austin and 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.
"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 Cecelia 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."
Harden recently 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."