Whoopi encourages Temple students to ‘know their shit’

By Tom Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA — Education, privacy and social media awareness were three things 2013 Lew Klein Excellence in the Media award winner Whoopi Goldberg stressed Thursday to approximately 350 students during “A Conversation with Whoopi Goldberg” at the Temple Performing Arts Center.

“People put everything in their lives on how hip and how cool you are, none of this makes any difference if you don’t know what’s going on in your country,” Goldberg said. “If you don’t know the laws that pertain to you and how vulnerable you are, nothing else you do matters. The first thing that matters is give a shit about yourself.”

Goldberg spoke with students after receiving the award at the 13th annual Lew Klein Alumni in the Media awards ceremony hosted in Mitten Hall. CNN’s Anderson Cooper won the Excellence in the Media award in 2012, the School of Media and Communication’s top honor.

Temple alums E. Steven Collins, David Henry, Kevin Negandhi and Deborah Veney Robinson were also honored at the ceremony and will be inducted into the school’s hall of fame.

As a high school dropout who battled dyslexia and couldn’t read as a child, Goldberg found other avenues to learn. She encouraged students to be themselves and not allow anyone else to determine what they want to accomplish. One particular outlet was ABC’s “Schoolhouse Rock!”

“There’s nothing like that [anymore],” Goldberg said. “People don’t know what a bill is, you would think everybody knows it. People don’t know geography. It’s not good. You don’t want to be that guy.

“You want to know where things are in the world,” she said. “If you are going to create, if you are going to put things out for the world to know, know it. Take the time to know it.”

Goldberg encouraged students to “widen people’s horizons instead of narrowing them” with the art they produce, the music they write, the stories they tell. She acknowledged that stories are being told in different ways, but told students to stick to the old-fashion way.

“Keep what works, fix what doesn’t,” Goldberg said. “Don’t just throw everything out and take time and check. Ask for other people’s opinions for God’s sake. Learn what privacy is because some stuff, everybody doesn’t need to know.”

She alluded to not taking naked pictures and posting on social media, which she said is a platform people her age would have killed for to avoid the “studio BS” that’s now available, but people have the be aware of what to post.

“Now stuff lives forever and you can’t get rid of it,” Goldberg said. “And not only can you not get rid of it, you can’t control it. So if you can’t control it, don’t put it out there. I don’t care how cute he is, how cute she is, you are not big enough to control what you need to.”

Christian Fiorenza, a communications major, attended the event at the encouragement of his advertising professor. He said he looked forward to hearing from a celebrity with “such wide experience [and] range of work.”

“The best part was never put anything that you can’t control yourself [ahead] and try to let the boneheads do their thing,” the 34-year-old said about Goldberg’s message. “Just stay true to yourself and don’t quit, never quit, unless it’s something that is making you physically sick.”

Goldberg said she’s not the person anyone would choose to be a movie star, but she believed in herself and became one of a few people to win an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and a Tony. She told students to prepare for the future and for wonderful things to happen because they can happen.

“Whatever avenue it takes, you have to believe it, man,” Goldberg said. “Know that the end game is in your hands because if you’re looking to be a zillionaire, you’re looking to do great art or dress great art or write great art, you can do it.”

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