Oscar Winning Actor JK Simmons Emphasizes Family – Living In The Moment At UM Commencement
On a wind-swept Saturday morning, soon-to-be graduates at the University of Montana were treated to an address by a man who is not only an Academy Award winning actor, but also the voice of the Yellow M&M, UM grad J.K. Simmons.
During his commencement speech, Simmons hearkened back to his days living on Eddy Street just blocks from the campus with his father, Don Simmons, head of the UM Music Department and his mother Pat, who was deeply involved with activities in Missoula, including founding the Out To Lunch at Caras Park event.
He emphasized to the students to not be so concerned with what happened in the past, or in worrying about the future, but to live in the moment, or as he said 'Be Here Now.'
"By being present, I mean fully engaged, and not staring at your damn smart phone all the time," he said to grateful laughter from mostly the parents in the crowd. "Being fully engaged doesn't always mean with other people, but sometimes just being with yourself, perhaps at Flathead Lake. As a matter of fact,. if you're enjoying that sunset over Flathead Lake, feel free to just....chuck your phone right in there. I'm having an aural fantasy right now of that delightful sploosh that phone would make when it hits the lake."
Simmons looked back on his now iconic speech when he accepted his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in 'Whiplash', when he encouraged everyone in the audience to 'call your mom'.
"The 'call your mom, call your dad' thing became an immediate internet sensation, a meme," he said. "It had a real effect of bringing estranged children back to their parents, sometimes in dramatic ways. In at least one instance, I know that a re-connection was established just before the mother died."
Simmons related another such experience.
"A woman called to thank me, because the next commercial break after I made that speech, the phone rang and she looked down, and her son was calling her," he paused. "The thing that made her story unique was that her son was sitting right next to her on the couch, just being a smart-ass."
Simmons is a 1978 graduate of the University of Montana, and was awarded an honorary doctorate at Saturday's commencement ceremony.