With USC’s cinematic arts school and its location in an entertainment mecca, it’s no surprise that acclaimed actors, directors and media personalities stop by from time to time. And it’s possible the University Park Campus, a popular filming location, might pop up on TV, too. From Oprah dropping career wisdom to Reese Witherspoon sightings by Mudd Hall, here’s a look back at celeb spottings in 2018.
‣ I know that location …
Any Trojan with a television knows that USC often shows up as the backdrop on TV shows and films. But hanging out on campus in 2018, Trojans may have done a double-take seeing Viola Davis by the Physical Education building filming ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder or Dominic West looking professorial by Bovard, filming for Showtime’s The Affair. There was that “Carpool Karaoke” episode with Will Smith in which the Trojan Marching Band escorted the car past the residence halls on West 34th Street. And any students who saw Reese Witherspoon in a golf cart weren’t hallucinating — she was here along with actress America Ferrera filming Witherspoon’s docu-series Shine On.
‣ Oprah Winfrey
Former TV talk show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey stopped by the commencement ceremony at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to deliver a moving speech full of quote-worthy wisdom, including “Don’t ever confuse what is legal with what is moral because they are entirely different. Do the right thing. Especially when no one’s looking.”
‣ Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, learned that perfectionism is a “terrible trait for anyone,” advising USC students to embrace life’s imperfections and failures. Also key: getting eight hours of sleep a night.
‣ Gabrielle Union
At the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the University Park Campus, actress-turned-author Gabrielle Union was candid about issues such as race, beauty standards and raising boys of color in America today, which are also some of the topics she covers in her book of essays, We’re Going to Need More Wine.
The entrepreneur and Black Eyed Peas frontman gave remarks at the USC Jimmy Iovine & Andre Young Academy’s first commencement ceremony. will.i.am, who has invested in academy startups, told students to not be solely focused on their own successes but to mentor the next generation of innovators and problem-solvers.
‣ Ben Kingsley
The Oscar-winning actor divulged behind-the-scenes stories during a talk with students from the USC School of Dramatic Arts, such as the hours it took to film a pivotal scene in the 1982 film Gandhi, which included more than 300,000 extras, breaking a Guinness World Record.
‣ Josh Gad
From being cast in the first run of The Book of Mormon to playing Steve Wozniak in the 2013 film Jobs, Gad has had the chance to do a bit of everything. But he said one of his most special roles was voicing Olaf, the snowman in Disney’s Frozen. Kids now freeze at the sound of his voice, pun intended.
‣ Shohreh Aghdashloo
The Iran-born actress, who studied politics and fled Iran during the Islamic Revolution in the 1970s, broke ground when she became the first Middle Eastern woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for her work in the 2004 film House of Sand and Fog. During a talk with dramatic arts students, she shared her journey to the big screen and fights against Hollywood agents who told she was simultaneously “limited” and “overqualified.”
‣ Mark Hamill
The actor behind the legendary Luke Skywalker gave advice to the next generation of thespians. “Any chance you get in front of an audience, no matter how big or small, do it. … It’s your chance to get better,” he said. He also told stories of preparing for the Star Wars role and his foray into voice acting.