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Watch: Broadway star Sydney James Harcourt delivers 2021 Interlochen Arts Academy commencement address

Harcourt encouraged graduating students to embrace their role as citizen artists and persevere through difficult times.

On May 29, 2021, the Grammy Award-winning Broadway performer and film and television star Sydney James Harcourt (AS 94, 97, IAA 94-97) delivered the commencement address to the Interlochen Arts Academy Class of 2021.

Harcourt encouraged graduating students to embrace their role as citizen artists and persevere through difficult times. “It is our responsibility as agents of beauty to dream of the world we want to see and put that in everything that we create,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of what’s next. The world has seen pandemics before and survived. The struggle for equality in race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status is an unending battle. If you can touch one heart with a performance, change one mind, bring a new understanding about life to one person watching you or to yourself, that is success.”

An original cast member of Hamilton, Harcourt received a Grammy Award for his feature performance on the show’s soundtrack and plays several characters in the filmed version available on Disney+. He also starred on Broadway in American Idiot and The Lion King. Among his many off-Broadway roles, Harcourt played the part of Joe Scott in the critically acclaimed original cast of Bob Dylan’s Girl From the North Country at the Public Theatre, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination. He has also appeared in several television series, including Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, and Law and Order.

Harcourt returns frequently to Interlochen as a teacher and mentor. In 2019 he collaborated with Arts Academy students on an original multidisciplinary work that was performed at New York City’s National Sawdust. He also served as a producer and director of ‘One’, a multidisciplinary work that was performed by Arts Academy students at Miami’s New World Center in 2020.

The Arts Academy’s graduating class includes two newly named 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, poet Madelyn Dietz and singer-songwriter Calvin Hinds; thirteen recipients of 2021 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards; nearly 50 recipients of honors from the National YoungArts Foundation; and one National Merit Scholarship finalist.