Natalie Portman Explains to New Harvard Grads Why Experience is Overrated

Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman returned to her alma mater to deliver an inspirational commencement speech this past week. Portman reflected on her past college days when she entered Harvard Yard as a freshman and was struck with impostor syndrome.

According to Portman, she felt undeserving of her place at such a prestigious university because she suspected she was admitted solely because of her fame.

The actress also acknowledged that going off to college is, for many, a time of inexperience that can lead to wholly embracing other people’s expectations, standards and values. But that doesn’t always have to be the case, according to Portman. She told the audience:

“You can harness inexperience to carve out your own path– one that is free of the burden of knowing how things are supposed to be.”

In her speech, she explained how her own inexperience led her to accept the high-risk role of a professional ballet dancer in “Black Swan,” which ultimately netted her an Oscar. The actress said:

“I was so oblivious to my own limits that I did things I was woefully unprepared to do.”

The same inexperience that gave rise to her feelings of insecurity during her freshman year was now encouraging her to take risks she didn’t even realize were risks. Inexperience for Natalie Portman ended up being a powerful asset that led her to take on the role of a lifetime.

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