The speech Nora Ephron delivered to Wellesley College in 1996 is one every woman needs to read.
Nora Ephron is, perhaps, best known for writing the romcoms When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. They’re both great films, but Ephron did much more than create roles for Meg Ryan to play. In fact, she had more than one career, and was infinitely more than a one trick pony. Ephron was a journalist, a playwright and a screenwriter amongst many other things. She had more than one husband, too. Nora Ephron was someone who didn’t play by the rules, whatever those ‘rules’ are meant to be.
Being a rule-breaker was one of the main things Ephron encouraged the graduating class of Wellesley College to be, in the incredible commencement speech she gave in 1996. The young women may have been expecting a short and sweet ‘goodbye and good luck’ as they left education to embark on the rest of their lives, but instead, Ephron delivered a call to arms. Most importantly, Ephron told them – and us – to ‘be the heroine of your life, not the victim.’
Once I realised I couldn’t actually be Ephron, because that’s impossible, I knew the closest way to becoming something like her would be to take some of the straight-talking advice she gave the Wellesley girls almost 20 years ago.
Sadly, Ephron died in 2012 before the two of us ever got to meet (because sure, that was going to happen), but she left many great works behind and none are more funny, intelligent, honest or moving, than this:
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