Courtney B. Vance Named Harvard Alumni Day Speaker

The actor, producer, and writer will address alumni May 31. 

Multi-hyphenate Courtney B. Vance to speak at Harvard Alumni Day | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF COURTNEY B. VANCE

Actor, producer, and writer Courtney B. Vance ’82 will be the featured speaker at the third annual Harvard Alumni Day, a University-wide celebration of alumni hosted by the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA). The event, which will take place on Friday, May 31, also includes recognition of the 2024 Harvard Medalists, remarks from Interim President Alan Garber, an alumni parade, and a Yard Party with food and drinks.

“I am thrilled to welcome Courtney B. Vance back to Harvard,” HAA president Tracy “Ty” Moore II ’06 said in an announcement. “An empathetic, creative genius, he captivates audiences through his realistic, nuanced portrayals of interesting public figures, and he brings to life fictional characters with honesty and depth. But his impact extends beyond his brilliant artistry. By bolstering the lives and careers of fellow artists, as well as giving back to the community, Courtney demonstrates how Harvard alums can elevate others in meaningful, values-aligned ways.”

During a 40-year career, Vance has portrayed a wide array of characters on the screen and the stage. His performance as Johnnie Cochran in FX’s The People vs. OJ Simson: American Crime Story won him Emmy, Critics’ Choice, and NAACP Image Awards. For his work on the stage, Vance won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy. Other film roles include Lovecraft Country, Genius: Aretha, and Hamburger Hill, and other stage performances include Fences and Six Degrees of Separation.

In addition to his acting, Vance serves as the chair of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, which provides educational resources to people pursuing careers in the performing arts. During the pandemic, he helped organize a fundraising effort that distributed more than $6.1 million to 6,500-plus SAG-AFTRA performers and their families. He also leads the Entertainment Industry Council, which provides support for artists, and is an ambassador for the Boys & Girls Club. He founded Bassett Vance Productions with his wife, actress Angela Bassett, and the two work with community organizations including UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.”

“I am very excited to return ‘home’ to Harvard and see my alumni family,” Vance said in the HAA announcement. “And to have the opportunity to address the Harvard community is an honor. I very much look forward to what I know will be a wonderful day.”

Harvard Alumni Day begins at 11 A.M. and takes place in Harvard Yard, with livestreaming for those who can’t attend in person. All University alumni are invited to attend. For further details and registration, visit

Read more articles by Nina Pasquini

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