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Award-winning actress Kathryn Hahn will be Northwestern’s Commencement speaker

166th ceremony is Sunday, June 9, at the United Center
kathryn hahn
Kathryn Hahn graduated from Northwestern’s School of Communication in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre. Photo by Kathryn Wirsing

Actress and alum Kathryn Hahn will deliver this year’s Commencement address to Northwestern University’s Class of 2024.

Starring on stage and screen for nearly three decades since her own graduation from Northwestern in 1995, Hahn has evoked tears, laughter and every emotional response in between, taking on multifarious roles.

Hahn will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts at Northwestern’s 166th commencement ceremony, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 9, at the United Center in Chicago.

“We are delighted that Kathryn Hahn, one of Hollywood’s most compelling and sought-after artists, will deliver this year’s commencement address,” President Michael Schill said. “Kathryn’s performances in some of our most beloved movies and TV shows are as memorable as they are remarkable.”

Members of the 2024 graduating class were the first to hear the news on Saturday night — from Hahn herself — via a surprise video reveal during the senior class formal at Theater on the Lake in Chicago.

“I’m going to be your commencement speaker … Tada!” she said. “To me, it really is like my greatest role that I’ve ever got a chance to play. … I am so excited for you humans, and I am so flattered to be your college doula into the next chapter of your lives.”

Currently, Hahn can be seen in Hulu’s limited series “Tiny Beautiful Things,” based on the best-selling essay collection of the same name by Cheryl Strayed, as “Dear Sugar,” an anonymous advice columnist who is revered even when her own life is falling apart. For her performance, Hahn was nominated for a 2024 Screen Actors Guild Award in the category of “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series” and was nominated for a 2023 Primetime Emmy Award.

Upcoming, Hahn will be seen in the Marvel/Disney+ limited series “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries,” reviving her character Agatha Harkness in the “WandaVision” spinoff show as the title character.

Recently, Hahn was seen in Netflix’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” as a part of the star-studded cast featuring Daniel Craig, Janelle Monáe, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr., Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline. The film received a 2023 Golden Globe Award nomination for “Best Picture - Musical or Comedy” as well as 2023 Critics Choice Awards for “Best Acting Ensemble” and “Best Comedy.”

Prior to this, Hahn co-starred in the Marvel/Disney+ limited series "WandaVision" portraying Agatha Harkness. For her performance, she received a 2021 Emmy Award nomination. Before that, she starred in the Apple TV+ series "The Shrink Next Door" alongside Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell.

Hahn starred opposite Kevin Bacon in the Amazon Prime Video comedy series “I Love Dick,” created by writer-director Joey Soloway, a collaborator who also created “Transparent” and “Afternoon Delight.” The latter premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and garnered Hahn a “Breakthrough Actor” Gotham Award nomination.

Kathryn Hahn surprised the Class of 2024 with a video reveal during the senior formal.

In the film “Private Life” by Tamara Jenkins, Hahn and Paul Giamatti portray a couple struggling with issues of infertility. In A.O. Scott’s review of “Private Life” for The New York Times, he called Hahn “a vivid performer and also an exquisitely subtle one.” Film Comment magazine’s Sheila O’Malley wrote, “Hahn is one of the best actresses working today. … This is a role worthy of her tremendous gifts.”

Hahn also starred as Carla Dunkler in the hit comedy franchise “Bad Moms” and its sequel; and as the villainous voice of Doc Ock in the Academy Award-winning animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

She starred in her own critically acclaimed HBO dramedy, “Mrs. Fletcher” as well as the acclaimed HBO limited series “I Know This Much Is True” opposite Mark Ruffalo.

She was the voice of Paige Hunter in the Apple TV+ animated musical comedy series “Central Park” and was featured in a recurring guest role in such shows as the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” and “Girls.”

Other notable film credits include M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit,” “This Is Where I Leave You,” opposite Jason Bateman,  the hit comedy “We’re the Millers,” opposite Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, “Wanderlust” with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Our Idiot Brother,” once again with Rudd, “Step Brothers” with Will Ferrell, “How Do You Know” with Jack Nicholson and Reese Witherspoon, “The Holiday,” opposite Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, as well as the comedy classic “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” again with Ferrell and Rudd. She also starred in the Oscar and Golden Globe nominated drama “Revolutionary Road” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet for director Sam Mendes.

Hahn made her Broadway debut in “Boeing-Boeing,” which won the 2008 Tony in the category of “Best Revival of a Play.” Additional theatre credits include “Dead End,” “Ten Unknowns,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Chaucer in Rome” and “Camino Real.”

> Related story: Kathryn Hahn rediscovers the relentless curiosity she first fostered at Northwestern

In addition to her degree from Northwestern, Hahn also has a Masters in Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama.

Hahn graduated from Northwestern’s School of Communication with a bachelor’s degree in theatre. Her professional acting career started in New York, where she and now husband, Ethan Sandler ’95, broke onto the scene.

Northwestern will announce the complete class of honorary degree recipients in the coming days.