Editorial
18 December 2020

From Celebrity To Educator

Celebrities are people who inspire us to be better and do more. Every so often, we hear of famous Hollywood actors/actresses or musicians who came from a professional background of education or teaching. Rarely do we hear of celebrities going back to teaching after achieving their goal of stardom. Celebrities who do go back to becoming educators are certainly worth a mention – particularly to inspire us fellow teachers and professors. 

Here are 3 examples of celebrities turned educators.

Oprah Winfrey

Photo credit: Steve Jennings / Getty Images

You would never have guessed the first name on our list. But why would one of the richest celebrities in the world go back to teaching?

Oprah has mentioned many-a-time that her teachers were the source of inspiration to her and pushed her to pursue knowledge to become the person that she is. She started the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and teaches a class called Life 101. Although she doesn’t teach full time, every once in a while, she goes back to conducting classes. Coming from a tumultuous childhood filled with hardships, Oprah believes in the power of education and that each individual is the “master of your fate and captain of your soul”.

What lesson can we learn from Oprah’s example? No matter where we are in life (whether we are billionaires or humble high school teachers) education is of the utmost importance. It is through the noble profession of education that we are enlightened to become our best self.

Kevin Spacey

Although he’s played a teacher in many of his famous movies, Kevin Spacey’s lesser-known profession is as an educator. The 61-year-old actor conducts classes on acting and partners with startups to conduct his acting masterclass.

Himself coming from a renowned school of the arts – Julliard School, he understands the value of learning and bettering oneself. The profession of acting is something that must be practiced and nurtured. Spacey’s Masterclass allows people from all over the world to learn acting at a fraction of the cost of going to acting school.

The Kevin Spacey Foundation works with Regent’s College to provide scholarships for students pursuing acting courses. He is said to show a strong commitment to supporting the next generation of acting talent.

Photo credit: Ryan Pfluger / The New York Times via Redux Pictures

Kal Penn

Photo credit: Lionel Nicolau / The Daily Pennsylvanian

You’ll remember him from Harold & Kumar, House, How I Met Your Mother, and Van Wilder. But you probably didn’t know he teaches at a university. Kal Penn, a beloved Hollywood actor of Indian ethnicity joins the list of actors-turned-educators.

Kal Penn’s expertise isn’t limited to acting alone. The movie star has also worked in the White House alongside former US President Barack Obama. More surprising, he teaches Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and is not one to go easy on grading.

 

As a talented actor with a variety of skills and experience outside the acting field, Kal Penn still chose to be an educator. If there’s a lesson to be learnt here it’s this: no matter how famous or successful you are, there’s always a need to use your experience to educate the next generation.

The 3 examples above may seem like random names from Hollywood who have unlimited choices and opportunities – and you may be right to think so. However, they also are prime examples of people who understand the importance of the teaching vocation and are willing to put their highly paid careers on hold to go back to being educators. It gives testament to the priceless value of imparting their knowledge and experience for the next generation’s progress.

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