Man of Mystery

J.J. Abrams ’88, the celebrated television and film writer, director, and producer, has captivated millions with his keen ability to create compelling (and sometimes addictive) on-screen mysteries. Case in point: Lost.

Andre Knight ’19 and Mansuda Arora ’19 take a selfie with J.J. Abrams ’88 while celebrating the graduation of fellow Real Talk @ SLC dialogue group facilitators.

Mystery might be compelling in a fictional universe, but in real life, less so. To prepare for his 2017 commencement address, Abrams spoke with several graduating seniors and discovered a common theme: They were excited, but nervous—very nervous. What brought them the most anxiety? Wondering what might unfold once they left 1 Mead Way.

To allay their fears, Abrams—at turns self-deprecatingly funny, thoughtful, and heartfelt—shared lessons he’s learned from embracing life’s mysteries.

“There is a power in possibility that fuels my interest in not just storytelling, but in living. … Every day is full of random catalyzing events—ripples that can have profound effect. Or sometimes just be incredible events in their own right. … The world is magic. ...

“Regardless of your politics … taking care of each other, doing for others, helping to level the aforementioned playing field, fighting for what you know is right, not just for yourself but for those who might not have as strong a voice or station or college degree in their pockets, is not about being a Democrat or Republican, it’s about being human. …

“Becoming responsible for something other than yourself is a muscle that you should exercise as much as possible. Usually it’s those acts that end up being among your most memorable. …

“Life, I have learned, like any creative endeavor, is a leap of faith. The thrilling thing is knowing that it just might work.”