Anthony Mackie, the acclaimed actor who has become Marvel’s new Captain America and is prepping to shoot the much-anticipated series for Peacock, Twisted Metal, based on the popular Sony PlayStation Game, will be the 2022 commencement speaker at Lawrence University, the university announced in a press release Tuesday.
He will speak June 12 to graduates at the liberal arts college in Appleton.
“I am honored and excited to address the graduates of Lawrence on this monumental day on their journey to becoming their best selves,” Mackie said in a statement.
He also will receive an honorary doctorate degree.
Mackie comes to Lawrence via a personal connection with President Laurie A. Carter, who served as a mentor to Mackie while she was on the leadership team at The Juilliard School in New York City and he was a student, according to the press release. He graduated from the performing arts school in 2001 and the two have maintained a friendship as he has grown into a sought-after Hollywood actor and she has ascended to the top levels of university leadership, becoming Lawrence’s 17th president — and first Black president — last July.
Carter called Mackie a thoughtful, talented actor who has realized the brilliant promise he showed while at Juilliard.
“I knew from the time he was a student at Juilliard that Anthony had big things ahead of him,” Carter said in a statement. “It’s been a pleasure to watch his career blossom, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to honor us at Lawrence to celebrate our 2022 graduates.”
Mackie, a New Orleans native, had numerous notable performances before the Marvel Cinematic Universe came calling in 2014. Lauded performances that followed on the heels of his 2002 film debut in 8 Mile included 2004’s Million Dollar Baby and 2009’s The Hurt Locker, two films that earned multiple Academy Awards. He was widely praised for his work in Brother to Brother in 2003 and for his portrayal of Tupac Shakur in Notorious in 2009. He’s also performed on Broadway and has co-hosted awards shows, most recently the 2022 CMT Music Awards in Nashville.
His notoriety went to another level eight years ago when he joined the Marvel family as Sam Wilson (The Falcon), becoming a beloved sidekick of Chris Evans’ Captain America.
Mackie’s Sam Wilson has reluctantly taken the shield following the death of Evans’ Captain America, his story playing out on the Disney+ original series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where he’s partnered with Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes. It’s all leading to Marvel’s Captain America 4, expected to start filming soon with Mackie in the lead role.
Mackie is also set to begin filming Twisted Metal, a series based on the Sony PlayStation video game franchise that is expected to debut on Peacock in 2023. It’s a project from Sony Pictures TV and PlayStation Productions, and Mackie is both starring in the show and serving as its executive producer.
Mackie also has been active on the philanthropic front, particularly in his native Louisiana. In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, he joined with several Louisiana organizations to launch the United for Grocery Workers Relief Fund, supporting struggling grocery store employees. And, among other projects, he joined Stan at a recent gala to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House New York.
“Anthony is not only a talented performer; he’s also kind, thoughtful, and generous,” Carter said in a statement. “I can’t wait for him to greet our graduates on the Commencement stage.”
Lawrence’s Commencement ceremony will return to its traditional location on Main Hall Green after being relocated to the Banta Bowl amid last year’s pandemic protocols. It will begin at 10 a.m., concluding a celebratory weekend that will include a Commencement concert in Memorial Chapel on Friday night and a Baccalaureate Service in the Chapel on Saturday afternoon.