NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Jane Lynch, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress of film, television and theater will be the speaker at Smith College’s 134th commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m. in the campus Quadrangle. [Watch students react to President Christ’s announcement.]
Lynch and four other accomplished women will receive honorary degrees prior to the address.
Lynch is currently best known for her role as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester in the Fox musical-comedy series “Glee.” As a member of the cast, Lynch has captured the attention of all ages by bringing to pop culture an awareness of pervasive stereotypes. The mirror that she has turned on audiences reflects what remains to be accomplished – disabusing prejudice about disability, sexuality – in a culture that otherwise aspires to champion diversity.
Lynch is a veteran of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company and the Second City comedy troupe. At the time of her audition, she was one of just two women picked to join Second City. Since adding film and television to her credentials, she has wooed audiences by playing memorable roles in such notable comedies as “Best in Show,” “The 40-year-old Virgin,” and “Role Models.”
After graduating from Illinois State University, Lynch earned a Master of Fine Arts in acting from Cornell University. Last year, she hosted the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards show, only the third woman in history to host the program solo. In addition to her Emmy and Golden Globe awards, Lynch has won Screen Actors Guild and People’s Choice awards for her work on “Glee.”
Her memoir “Happy Accidents,” published in 2011, recounts the growth of her career from the stage to television and movies.
Prior to her address, four additional accomplished women will receive honorary degrees. They are: Edwidge Danticat, Haitian novelist whose narratives speak about a nation’s plight; Muriel Siebert, pioneering financier; Susan Solomon, atmospheric scientist who identified the cause of the ozone hole; Brinda Somaya, Smith alumna and premier architect who shapes the landscape of her nation of India.
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