Bill Harder

Bill Hader to Speak at Chapman University 2024 Commencement Ceremony The award-winning actor and creator will be presented with an honorary degree on May 17.

The award-winning actor and creator will be presented with an honorary degree on May 17.

Comedian, actor, writer and director Bill Hader will be the keynote speaker at Chapman University’s Commencement on Friday, May 17. Hader will be presented with a Doctor of the Arts (honoris causa) during the ceremony. 

“Bill Hader is a true inspiration to our graduating students, embodying a spirit of curiosity and perseverance,” said Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa. “His remarkable journey from ‘Saturday Night Live’ to creating, directing and starring in the award-winning series ‘Barry’ is a testament to the possibilities engendered when entrepreneurship and creativity combine.”

Hader’s connection to Chapman extends beyond the commencement stage. In March, he gave a master class to Dodge College of Film and Media Arts students at the No. four American film school, ranked by both The Wrap and The Hollywood Reporter. During the class, Hader shared insights into his craft and experiences in the industry.

“I felt like if I could learn how to write, I [could] control my destiny in a way,” Hader said. “If I know how to write, then everything kind of comes from the idea. That’s really good if you can see what a script needs, the story needs.”

Beyond stories about his own beginnings, like showing up to his first production assistant job with his college degree and encounters with SNL alumni, Hader emphasized the importance of being a creator and overcoming self-doubt.

“Expressing yourself doesn’t mean [doing] what everybody else is liking,” Hader said. “Just do it. Make sure you’re constantly making stuff.”

Hader has made the transition from being a master of stand-out characters and impressions on “Saturday Night Live” to becoming a true multi-hyphenate by creating, directing, writing, producing and starring as a burned-out assassin trying to break into Hollywood as an actor in HBO’s award-winning and critically lauded dark comedy, “Barry.”

“Barry” concluded its fourth and final season in May 2023 and Hader directed all eight episodes. The first three seasons of “Barry” received a total of 44 Emmy nominations and nine Emmys including two wins for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Hader has also garnered three Directors Guild of America awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series, three Writers Guild Awards and has been nominated three times for Producers Guild Awards and three times for Screen Actors Guild Awards. “Barry” has also received an AFI Award and a Peabody Award.

The final season of the series garnered the following number of nominations: 11 Emmys, two Golden Globes, three SAG Awards, Directors Guild, Producers Guild and three Critics’ Choice.

Hader is also co-creator of IFC’s “Documentary Now!” which was named one of the best TV shows of 2015 by The New York Times and is now in its fourth season. Hader spent eight seasons on “Saturday Night Live” and garnered four Emmy Award nominations for his work on the series.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native has starred in such films as “Trainwreck,” “Superbad,” “Pineapple Express” and “Tropic Thunder.” He segued to show his versatility with a dramatic role in 2014’s critically acclaimed feature film “The Skeleton Twins” opposite his former SNL castmate, Kristen Wiig. He most recently starred in “It Chapter Two,” the sequel to the 2017 hit “It,” based on the best-selling Stephen King novel.

Previous Chapman University Commencement speakers include award-winning actress, director and executive producer Angela Bassett and Nobel Peace Laureate Nadia Murad.

Learn more about Chapman University’s 2024 Commencement events.

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