About a year ago, Lisa Kudrow delivered the commencement address at Vassar College, where she received her own bachelor’s degree in 1985. Clad in black cap and gown, her long blonde hair streaming down her back, the star squinted slightly in the sunlight while reading her speech, even though she’d taken the precaution of printing it in oversize type. “I should have worn glasses,” she says now.
If the new Vassar grads expected the actress they’d grown up watching as spacey Phoebe Buffay on Friends to get all flaky on them and sing a chorus of “Smelly Cat”—Phoebe’s most beloved ditty—they were in for a disappointment. Kudrow delivered a carefully crafted, heartfelt yet humorous address in which she answered the question she said she is asked most frequently: “How did I go from biology major to actress?”
In fact, Kudrow says that while composing the speech, she drew on the lessons she’d learned from studying biology and evolution on that Poughkeepsie, New York, campus. “Evolution is change,” says Kudrow, who turns 48 on July 30. “There’s no good or bad in nature, no judgment. It’s just what happens. It helps if you view everything that happens as OK. It’s all OK.”
Read Lisa's full story in the July/August 2011 issue, on newsstands now!
Former People movie critic LEAH ROZEN writes about entertainment for TheWrap.com, the Anglophenia blog on BBCAmerica.com, the New York Times and other outlets.