Natalie Portman On Proving She 'Wasn't Just a Dumb Actress' at Harvard

Pam WrightLife

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Natalie Portman has revealed that when she began her Harvard College career in 1999, she was determined to prove that she "wasn't just a dumb actress."

On Wednesday, Natalie Portman provided the keynote speaker at Harvard College's Class Day ceremony, an honor she referred to as "one of the most exciting things I've ever been asked to do."

"When I came in as a freshman in 1999, I felt like there had been some mistake" and "that I wasn't smart enough to be in this company," said Natalie Portman of her alma mater.

Natalie Portman told graduating seniors that while in high school, classmates weren't all that interested in her acting career.

"I went to a public high school on Long Island. The girls I went to school with had Prada bags and flat-ironed hair. People didn't pay much attention to the fact that I was an actress. I was known for having a backpack bigger than I was, and always having whiteout on my hands," said Natalie Portman.

The pressure was great when she arrived at Harvard to begin her studies.

"When I got to Harvard just after the release of Star Wars: Episode 1, I feared people would assume I had gotten in just for being famous, and not worthy of the intellectual rigor here," said Natalie Portman.

Like any other college student, Natalie Portman faced challenges while studying psychology.

"It's easy to romanticize my time here, but I had some difficult times here," said Natalie Portman. "Being 19, dealing with my first heartbreak, taking birth control that's now off the market due to its depressive side effects…."

After graduating in 2003, Natalie Portman came to realize how important her chosen career is to her.

"I admitted to myself I couldn't wait to go back and make more films," said Natalie Portman. "I had reclaimed my reason."

Pam Wright