Will Ferrell singing Whitney Houston at USC graduation is exactly what we need right now.

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Will Ferrell singing Whitney Houston at USC graduation is exactly what we need right now.

Will Ferrell’s speech to USC’s class of 2017 was unexpectedly poignant and sincere in many parts. But true to the ‘Anchorman’ star’s characteristic humor, he also capped it off with a memorable rendition of a Whitney Houston ballad that was both robust and bizarre.

He also received an honorary doctorate at the ceremony, joining an illustrious group that included a humanitarian, a spinal surgeon, an AIDS researcher and actress Helen Mirren.

“And then there’s me,” he said. “Will Ferrell, whose achievements include running naked through the city of Montrose in ‘Old School.’”

Like many commencement speeches, Will encouraged the graduates to take risks and relax about not knowing exactly what their careers are. He reminisced about his own stint at USC, where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in sports information.

“A program so difficult, so arduous,” he said, “that they discontinued the major eight years after I left.”

While at USC, Ferrell was a class clown, and would often attend his lectures as various comedic characters. But after graduation, he floundered, living with his parents and trying to find his niche in the Los Angeles comedy scene while braving near poverty.

“Yes, I was afraid. You’re never not afraid. I’m still afraid,” he said. “My fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of ‘What if? What if I never tried at all?’”

Eventually Will Ferrell found his way into the improv scene, and then onto ‘Saturday Night Live.’ From there, he segued into movies like ‘Zoolander,’ became an A-list star and soon added producer to his resume.

Despite all his successes, though, he considers his 16-year marriage to his wife Viveca and their three children his biggest achievement.

“No matter how cliche it may sound,” he said, “you will never truly be successful until you learn to get beyond yourself. Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.”

Of course, Will being Will, he couldn’t help but end his speech with a broad joke. If USC’s newest graduates become uncertain or lonely, he offered some advice.

“Literally picture my face, singing this song gently into your ear,” Will said. And then he launched into “I Will Always Love You,” capping off a surprisingly searching, warmhearted speech with something no one could forget.

Watch Will’s speech below, and be sure to hit the 24-minute mark for the part everyone is talking about…






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