By JONATHAN RIGGS
Actor, writer, comedian and UCLA alumnus Randall Park will deliver the keynote address at all three 2023 UCLA College commencement ceremonies, which are scheduled for 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16, in Pauley Pavilion.
“As a proud Bruin, I am deeply honored to be delivering the keynote address for the class of 2023,” Park said. “College graduation is the most pivotal day of any person’s life — more significant than marriage, more special than the birth of a child, more monumental than the signing of the Declaration of Independence — so I do not take this responsibility lightly.
“In my humble opinion, there is no one better to connect with these young minds than me: a 49-year-old man who is not on social media and still listens to Wham! My hope is to inspire, uplift, encourage, stimulate and other synonyms for the word ‘inspire.’”
A native Angeleno born to Korean immigrant parents, Park grew up interested in acting as a hobby but never imagining it could become his career. He did always have an eye on UCLA, however, because his mother worked as an accountant on campus. Park earned his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Asian American studies in 1997 and began working toward a master’s degree in the latter subject in 1999.
When he was an undergraduate, Park co-founded Lapu, the Coyote that Cares Theatre Company, an Asian American troupe that, nearly three decades later, remains a vibrant presence on UCLA’s campus. And in 2019, Park joined with his former classmates and longtime Bruin collaborators Michael Golamco and Hieu Ho to launch Imminent Collison. Dedicated to developing comedy-forward stories from Asian American perspectives for all audiences, the company takes its name from a play the trio developed through the Coyote that Cares company.
One of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood, Park is a mainstay in the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, with roles in the “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Aquaman” franchises, as well as in the series “WandaVision.”
He starred as the kindly father in the groundbreaking sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” co-wrote and co-starred with fellow Bruin Ali Wong in the romantic comedy “Always Be My Maybe,” and made an unforgettable appearance in the controversial film “The Interview,” in which he played North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Park made his directorial debut with the film “Shortcomings,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Park has remained deeply engaged with his alma mater over the years, including serving as an alumni volunteer at UCLA UniCamp, earning the 2016 Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year award and serving as keynote speaker at the 2017 English Department commencement.
“Through his artistry and activism, Randall Park has opened countless doors for others and advocated for a more just and equal world,” said Miguel García-Garibay, senior dean of the UCLA College and dean of physical sciences. “He is a true Bruin in every sense, and we know his wit and wisdom will inspire our graduating seniors to blaze their own trails and create a better future.”