It may be one of the best attended commencements ever in the history of the University of Houston. UH has just announced that Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey will give the inaugural commencement address on Friday, May 15 at the TDECU Stadium before 5,000 graduates.
Turns out, UH had an "in." His dad, "Big Jim" McConaughey once played college football at the University of Houston, according to University of Houston President Renu Khator.
To say UH is beaming about this would be an understatement. According to its press release:
It's the kind of star power that adds muscle to the University of Houston's bold reputation campaign "Welcome to the Powerhouse."
"He has captured the imagination of our students, and they will benefit greatly, as they head out into the world, from hearing his perspective as a highly successful actor, producer, director and philanthropist," Khator says.
McConaughey has appeared in more than 40 feature films that collectively have grossed over $1 billion. His current project has taken him to New Orleans and Lafayette, where he stars in the Civil War drama "The Free State of Jones."
While the professional awards and accolades are impressive, his philanthropic and humanitarian work on behalf of children and young adults through the jk livin Foundation he established in 2008 are aligned with the University's mission.
The Foundation's name is shorthand for "just keep living," a personal mantra inspired by the passing of his father, who died just as the actor's career took off with 1993s cult classic "Dazed and Confused."
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The jk livin Foundation is dedicated to empowering high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. It serves more than 2,000 students at 24 programs in California, Texas, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.
2014 was a game-changing year for McConaughey. He made the move to TV, starring alongside Woody Harrelson in the HBO dramatic series "True Detective." The show earned McConaughey a Critics Choice and Television Critics Association Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series, as well as an Emmy Nomination.
He has also received numerous awards and accolades for the critically acclaimed "Dallas Buyers Club." McConaughey dropped 47 pounds to play to role of AIDS- stricken Ron Woodruff. For his riveting portrayal McConaughey received an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Gotham Award for Best Actor, the Best Actor Award at the Rome Film Festival as well as the Desert Palm Achievement Actor Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
He also starred in "Interstellar," directed by Christopher Nolan, released in November 2014. In addition, McConaughey completed shooting Gus Van Sant's "Sea of Trees."