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- A lot of celebrities have served as college professors or are currently teaching courses at esteemed universities.
- Actor Matthew McConaughey teaches full-time at his alma mater, the University of Texas, and he taught a class there back in 2016.
- Supermodel Tyra Banks taught a class about media and branding at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 2017.
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Some celebrities bring their talents to the classroom to help students learn directly from actors, supermodels, and directors who are hugely successful in their fields.
Here’s a list of celebrities who have taught college classes, who have served as professors, or who currently lecture full-time.
Oprah Winfrey co-taught a leadership class at Northwestern University.
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For a short stint starting in the late 1990s, Oprah taught at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Along with her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, the two lead a “Dynamics of Leadership” course.
The class allotted for about 110 students who had to use more than half of their 3,000 yearly “class points” just to register, according to the Daily Northwestern.
The syllabus for the course states, “No late papers will be accepted.”
Matthew McConaughey teaches full-time at his alma mater.
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Back in 2016, Matthew McConaughey first got the chance to go back to his alma mater to co-teach a course called “Advanced Producing: Script-to-Screen.”
The class capped at 30 students and the actor took them behind the scenes of the 2016 film “Free State of Jones,” which starred McConaughey. But it’s worth noting that McConaughey “taught” the course mostly through recorded videos and an occasional visit to campus.
Spike Lee is currently a professor at New York University (NYU).
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He’s a writer, director, actor, producer, author, and apparently longtime educator. Spike Lee began teaching filmmaking at Harvard University in 1991 and has been a professor at NYU for years.
Lee became faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Graduate Film Program in 1993 and was appointed Artistic Director in 2002.
Tyra Banks made branding and social media fierce.
- Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 2016 Essence Festival
In 2017, supermodel Tyra Banks co-taught a course on creating and maintaining a personal brand at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
She taught about 25 MBA students about how to use social and traditional media to be a business leader.
The course was called “Project You: Building and Extending your Personal Brand” and explored topics such as the purpose of a personal brand, differentiating yourself and creating a brand identity and strategy, and a competitive edge.
James Franco has taught at multiple colleges.
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James Franco has taught courses at Columbia, NYU, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the California Institute of the Arts, and more.
At UCLA, Franco taught a winter quarter screenwriting class. The course was said the be “very experiential.” And he’s apparently a pretty normal professor.
In 2013, one of his students told LA Weekly: “He definitely cares a lot about teaching and it’s not just something he’s just doing. As a teacher he’s has office hours and is pretty normal.”
It’s worth noting that Franco’s time as a professor wasn’t without controversy.
In 2018, a former student sued James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions and actor Seth Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures, accusing them of stripping him of a writing credit on Franco and Rogen’s 2017 film “The Disaster Artist.” Both companies deny the allegations, according to Deadline, and as of this year, the suit had been quietly settled.
Barack Obama has challenged his students to stand up for what they believe in.
Before he was president, Barack Obama was a professor at the University of Chicago’s Law School. Professor Obama taught there from 1992 until 2004 when he was elected into the US Senate.
Obama served as a constitutional law professor and he also taught on race theory.
Angelina Jolie has given a few seminars.
In February 2018, Angelina Jolie gave a seminar to students who were taking a master’s course in “Women, Peace, and Security.” She hosted her first lecture there back in 2017.
The late activist and writer Maya Angelou said she found her true passion through teaching.
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Maya Angelou went to Wake Forest University for a speaking engagement in 1973 and ended up becoming a professor there shortly after. The poet and activist taught at the university until her death in 2014.
Angelou was named the Wake Forest’s first Reynolds Professor of American Studies in 1982. In her time there, she taught courses in “World Poetry in Dramatic Performance,” “Race, Politics and Literature,” “African Culture and Impact on US,” “Race in the Southern Experience,” “Shakespeare and the Human Condition,” and many more.
Through teaching, she said she found another passion of hers outside of words and poetry. She described it like this: “I’m not a writer who teaches. I’m a teacher who writes. But I had to work at Wake Forest to know that.”
Alec Baldwin once taught a two-day acting class.
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Alongside actress and teacher Bethany Caputo, the seasoned “30 Rock” actor taught an “intensive” class focused on acting techniques and monologues at Stony Brook University.
The class was just two days and happened during July of 2016. Students had to audition to get in.