"Especially now, women supporting women could not be more important," Katie Holmes said

By Myndi Milliken and Karen Mizoguchi
May 05, 2019 08:00 PM

Katie Holmes is back home!

The actress, 40, returned to Toledo, Ohio, to deliver the commencement address to over 2,000 undergraduate students at the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl Stadium on Saturday. Though Holmes, who was honored with an honorary doctor of humane letters, did not attend the college herself, she shared fond memories of when her older brother Martin was a student there.

In her speech about life lessons, the star, who was accepted to Columbia University but deferred to pursue an entertainment career, spoke about the early years of her acting career including her first year hosting Saturday Night Live and her first big role on Dawson’s Creek.

“Don’t be intimidated about that first job or internship or audition. And if you get it, well I have some tips for what you’ll need when you’re first starting out,” Holmes said.

“If you’re moving out, make sure you have what you need to feel comfortable,” Holmes advised in reference to Dawson’s Creek and the show’s Wilmington, North Carolina, location.

Credit: Daniel Miller/The University of Toledo

Another piece of sage advice the mother of one shared was about being yourself, literally. “Another thing I learned, don’t use a fake ID to buy wine and then try to pay with a check. I’m aware that no one pays by check these days, but that’s just more reason not to do it. That’ll be extra confusing,” she said.

Holmes also told the graduating students to not stick their denim in the freezer, the do’s and don’t’s of how to handle natural disasters and the importance of traveling the world.

Credit: Daniel Miller/The University of Toledo

“We live in a country where we have so many options, and for so many people in the world, our worst days would almost be a dream come true for them. Try to continue your education for yourself on your own terms,” she said.

In a funny anecdote about her years auditioning for roles, Holmes said: “If people believe in you, it makes you want to believe in yourself, and vice versa. People react to your confidence. I’ve been tricking folks for years into believing I’m other characters, and I haven’t gotten caught yet! Guys, it’s all fake!”

Credit: Daniel Miller/The University of Toledo

But the most important life lesson Holmes wanted to share was the need for true friendships.

“For the young women in the audience, I want to encourage you to lift up, listen to, and trust one another. I would not have been able to direct the films I’ve directed without a chorus of talented, creative, and brilliant women to give me support,” she said. “Women need each other now more than ever, to continue the fight over equal pay, mutual respect and the war against systemic abuse and mistreatment. … Especially now, women supporting women could not be more important.”

Holmes also reflected on her own relationships with her family and friends.

“I’ve been so lucky in life to know people who have given me their wisdom, experience, and advice while I was growing up,” she said.

“When I moved from Toledo to North Carolina at the age of 18 to start working on Dawson’s Creek, we were four unknown actors working for a network that had just begun,” Holmes said, referring to former costars James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams.

“No one knew what was supposed to happen. Luckily, something did. The odds were totally stacked against me, but guess what — the odds are stacked against everybody,” she continued. “So if you’re waiting for a sign, this is it. … You are the person who’s going to go out there and make things happen for yourself. And that’s a terrifying and amazing responsibility. You deserve joy — not in ten years, but now. So try to be equal parts tough and gentle with yourself. Take things one step at a time. Work hard when no one is looking. And don’t let anybody say you never called them back.”