Smart celebrities should be reconsidered

Celebrities. We are so quick to write them off as being less than intelligent, but maybe we aren’t always justified in doing so. There is a long list of celebrities who have surprised us all with their secret smarts. Be it a doctorate or a college degree earned as a teenager, some celebrities have received recognition for their above-average intellect. Having smarts as well as talent is what makes them some of the people we love to hate.

First off is Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe in the famous TV hit Friends. Though her character is spacey and a bit clueless, Kudrow is quite the opposite. Before her acting career, she graduated from Vassar University with a B.S in Biology. From there, she spent a number of years carrying out medical research on headaches.

Next up is the Black Swan herself, Natalie Portman. Not only did she graduate from Harvard with a degree in psychology, but she also speaks Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, and Japanese. Having grown up acting, she certainly did not need to pursue much of an academic education, yet she chose to anyway, earning the respect of many fans.

James Franco has won awards for his gut-wrenching performance in 2010’s 127 Hours, but there is more to that pretty face than mad acting skills. After earning a degree in English from UCLA, he earned three MFA degrees: two in Writing from Columbia University and Brooklyn College and the third in Film from NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. For someone whose big break was Freaks and Geeks in 1999, this is a pretty impressive accomplishment.

Cindy Crawford is another surprisingly smart celebrity. Believe it or not, this former model was the valedictorian of her high school. She also received a scholarship to Northwestern University, one of the nation’s most selective schools. She was on the fast track to becoming a chemical engineer when she changed her path and began modeling. She even tried her hand at acting, starring as Kate McQuean in the 1995 action movie Fair Game. Haven’t heard of it? That’s no surprise—the film was a complete bust.

Sharon Stone has been acting since 1980, when she won the role of “Pretty Girl on Train” in Stardust Memories. Her subsequent job was equally memorable—that is, until she starred in Basic Instinct in 1992. Apparently, in this film, Stone reveals to the cameras her lack of underwear during a scene in which she is being questioned by the cops. This, my friends, is her claim to fame. But before you write her off as a scantily-clad doozy of an actress, you should know this: she graduated from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania with a degree in the Fine Arts and Creative Writing at the ripe old age of fifteen. That’s pretty impressive, right? So, okay, maybe she is a scantily-clad doozy of an actress, but at least she’s got brains.

If you haven’t seen The Hangover, you at least know about it (remember the whole Ed Helms thing?). Ken Jeong is one of the actors in it—he plays Mr. Chow. He also stars in the hit TV show Community as Señor Chang. Contrary to what his slightly kooky characters might suggest, Jeong is actually a very intelligent man. In fact, he might take the cake in this group of smart celebs. He graduated from Duke University in 1990 and went on to get a medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yes, the same man who attempted to wrestle John Cena is a physician.

Alicia Keys is yet another surprisingly intelligent celebrity. Before pursuing a career in music, Keys graduated from her high school as class valedictorian—at age 16. She was even offered a scholarship to Columbia University but turned it down in order to follow her dream.

Feeling sub-par yet?

Here are some more quick examples of fame with brains: Matt Damon studied English at Harvard for three years before dropping out to become an actor. Hugh Grant graduated with honors from Oxford University and was given a scholarship to attend. Jodie Foster was the valedictorian of her French-speaking school in Los Angeles, then went on to graduate magna cum laude from Yale with a degree in Literature. Finally, Kate Beckinsale not only attended Oxford to study French and Russian Literature but also won its writing competition twice.

Yes, there are a lot of dimwit celebrities out there. But, as you can see, there are a fair number of smart ones, too. Maybe we should do some research before judging famous people next time! Then again, it seems that nine times out of ten, you get a celebrity who thinks Chicken of the Sea is actually chicken…