During YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 virtual commencement event, Beyoncé took aim at ongoing discrimination in the music industry and the wider entertainment sphere.
Speaking against an all-gray backdrop before what was apparently a professional-grade camera (many other celebrities submitted comparatively relaxed clips), Beyoncé opened her speech by congratulating the 2020 class for graduating amid the coronavirus crisis and while nationwide protests continue to unfold over the death of George Floyd.
After that, the 38-year-old relayed that she didn’t attend college, but called on graduates to thank their family members and communities for supporting them during their educational journeys.
Segueing to her own story, Beyoncé highlighted “a pivotal turning point” in her life, when she chose to build her own company “many years ago.” (The business in question is presumably her management and entertainment firm, Parkwood Entertainment, which was founded in 2010 and still operates today. However, Beyoncé created entertainment and fashion brand Beyond Productions, LLC, in 2004 and sold the asset in 2011.)
Addressing discrimination specifically when describing her company’s start, Beyoncé said: “The entertainment business is still very sexist. It’s still very male-dominated, and as a woman, I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to do what I knew I had to do. To run my label and management company, to direct my films and produce my tools, that meant ownership. Owning my masters, owning my art, owning my future, and writing my own story.”
Throughout the remainder of the 10-minute-long speech, Beyoncé offered words of encouragement to aid graduates as they pursue their respective careers and professional goals.
An array of other artists, including Katy Perry, Lizzo, Alicia Keys, BTS, and Lady Gaga, spoke and/or performed during the more than 270-minute-long Dear Class of 2020 event. Barack and Michelle Obama also appeared, as did comedian John Mulaney and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, to name just some.
Last week, Digital Music News was first to report that Jay-Z had lent his private jet to Ahmaud Arbery’s lawyers so that they could appear for a court hearing.