Commencement Speaker

Commencement Speaker



Oscar Nominated Actor, Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy Winning Musician, Author and King of Conscious Hip-Hop

Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists, having recorded nine studio albums, the latest of which is titled, The Dreamer/The Believer. Some of his other titles include, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, Resurrection, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Like Water For Chocolate, Electric Circus, BE, Finding Forever, and Universal Mind Control. A two-time Grammy Award winner, Common won the 2015 Academy Award and the 2015 Golden Globe Award for best original song for his work with John legend on “Glory” from the film “Selma,” in which he co-starred as 1960s civil rights movement leader James Bevel. A multi-talented superstar, Common also plays freed slave Elam Ferguson in the AMC historical drama series Hell on Wheels.

Common partnered with Chicago native and rap music megastar Kanye West to produce both BE and Finding Forever. This dynamic partnership resulted in four Grammy Award nominations, in addition to being nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Hip-Hop Video.

Common knows exactly what you’re thinking. After the crossover success of albums BE and Finding Forever, you would expect the “King of Conscious Hip-Hop” to serve you another set of introspective rhymes over raw soul tracks by Kanye West. But Common hasn’t lasted 16 years in the notoriously fickle hip-hop game by avoiding risk. This Renaissance Man is all about pushing boundaries — and winning while he’s at it. In 2009, Common was able to motivate and empower collegiate minds across the country, speaking at such prestigious institutions as California University of Pennsylvania, University of Memphis, Wright State University, University of Rochester, and KIPP Charter Schools.

In 2007, he launched the Common Ground Foundation, which gives back and allows our youth to realize their full potential. By providing opportunities for them to learn new skills as well as a support system that fosters personal growth and empowerment, Common hopes to inspire today’s urban youth to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Common also offers a younger generation a better understanding of self-respect and love, utilizing the cultural relevance of hip-hop, in the children’s books he has written. The first, titled The MIRROR and ME, teaches lessons of life, the human spirit, and human nature. His follow-up book I Like You But I Love Me, was recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and his third book, M.E. (Mixed Emotions), was released in 2008. His first book for adults is a provocative and touching memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, which explores his upbringing and familial relationships.

In 2006, the Grammy Award-winning artist Common made his big-screen debut as a musical performer in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. In January 2007, he made his Hollywood debut co-starring opposite Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, and Ryan Reynolds in Smokin’ Aces for Universal Pictures and writer/director Joe Carnahan. Since then he has co-starred opposite Denzel Washington in American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott, David Ayer’s Street Kings starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, Wanted opposite Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman, and Terminator Salvation, directed by McG and starring Christian Bale. Common also appeared in Date Night, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey and directed by Shawn Levy, and appeared in his first starring role in the 2010 film Just Wright, starring opposite Queen Latifah.

In addition to his music, film, and literary pursuits, Common is the face of the Diesel men’s fragrance Only the Brave. He also partnered with Microsoft on their Softwear clothing line, as well as other companies like Microsoft Zune, Lincoln Navigator and AMP Energy Drink. In 2007, he launched his Italian hat line SOJI.

Common will focus on expanding his series of children’s books, starring in more box office hits, completing his next Grammy Award-winning project, branding opportunities, and inspiring youth across the country with his Common Ground Foundation.

Biography compliments of Keppler Speakers - Real People. Real Stories.

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