Actor Blair Underwood is a busy man but made time in his schedule to give the commencement speech at the AIU graduation ceremony held in Chicago on Saturday. From his work on television to a film he directed, Underwood opened up about what is going on in his world. The Chicago TV Examiner had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Blair Underwood while he was in Chicago, and was also able to read parts of the speech he gave at commencement. If you have ever wondered what Underwood is up to and what kind of advice he’d give, this is what you would find out.
Recently Blair Underwood finished his run as Blue in “Paradise Blue.” When asked about how it was Underwood said; “Amazing. This playwright is named Dominique Morisseau and she is extraordinary. She has a three play cycle, and all of them have to do with different how different aspects of government and riots affecting the community. ‘Paradise Blue’ is set in 1949 at a jazz club. I play Blue. He is fighting demons while trying to sell the club. It is very heavy stuff, but fun at the same time.”
Underwood has been directing an independent film called “Silent Voice.” It is about a rapper who goes deaf and has to learn his craft. While using sign language he raps, and his girlfriend speaks the words. When asked to talk a little bit about the project he answered; “It’s a coming-of-age film about a man finding himself and his love. There is a love story as well. It has elements of hip hop and sign language. The story is set in New Orleans.”
There have been several roles Blair Underwood has held. You may have recognized him from “L.A. Law” or “Sex and the City.” Currently he can be seen on ABC’s “Agents Marvel of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and will be returning for the upcoming season. There wasn’t much he could give away but he joked; “There is what you call the ‘Marvel Mafia,’ you can’t say too much or they will zap you. This upcoming season we deal with a lot of ‘inhumans.’ They are humans with a bunch of power.”
Acting is one of the greatest arts. Picking an inspiring moment can be hard and at first, Blair Underwood wasn’t sure what his was. After all of the other questions were asked, he came back and said; “My first job which ironically was ‘The Cosby Show’ in 1985. I was very excited, I just came out of college.”
When asked about a favorite role he played, Underwood was quick to say; “I’m not being coy but this last one I did. Blue. My son told me that was his favorite thing I’d done. My assistant Maria said that was her favorite thing I have done. Any character that demands so much of a man, when your stretched in a role and forced to grow, those are my favorite. But also, I’d say Dr. Andrew Garner because it’s Marvel.”
Because he is an incredibly busy man, Blair Undewood was asked what prompted him to give the commencement speech for the AIU graduates. His response was; “I was invited. You know what also? I was thinking very seriously about getting a degree online two years ago. What AIU stands for and online degrees are a dream for me.” Since Underwood was giving the commencement speech, he was asked what piece of advice would he be giving at the ceremony. He replied; “I don’t know, I’m going to make it up as I go. I’m kidding! You know a lot of what I’m going to talk about is what I believe is true success. To me it is two things; being happy and being of service. That is a quick answer in a nutshell.”
The graduation was held over the weekend at the Navy Pier Ballroom. While he talked about a lot, Blair Underwood touched upon what he believes to be “true success” in life. “Joy. Are you happy? As long as it’s legal, moral and ethical, are you happy? Does doing it bring you joy? Are you helping others? Are you giving back? Are you helping others reach their goals? In the final analysis, true joy, happiness and success come from being of service to others.”
The graduates celebrated the night before at an event in downtown Chicago. Blair Underwood did a meet and greet for the students and mingled with them while they celebrated the completion of college with a degree. Underwood was the perfect person for the job of commencement speaker, and the graduates were thrilled with the outcome.