Actor, activist Terry Crews leads off 2019-20 Chancellor’s Lecture Series

Terry Crews (photo courtesy of Benjo Arwas)
Terry Crews (photo by Benjo Arwas)

The 2019-20 Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Lecture Series will kick off Monday, Sept. 9, with Terry Crews, an actor, activist and former professional football player who uses his influential platform to advance conversations around the issues of sexual assault prevention and toxic masculinity.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente will host the free event, which takes place in Langford Auditorium, at 6:30 p.m.

Crews will speak on “Reframing Masculinity and Gender Equality,” followed by a Q&A that will be moderated by William H. Robinson, interim vice provost for strategic initiatives and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

A native of Flint, Michigan, Crews attended the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts before enrolling at Western Michigan University on a full football scholarship.

His professional football career began with the Los Angeles Rams in 1991. He also played with the San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and the Rhein Fire (Germany) in the World League of American Football.

Crews retired from pro football in 1997 and began acting in a variety of film and television roles, including Julius on the Chris Rock comedy Everybody Hates Chris and Lt. Terry Jeffords on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Crews hosts both America’s Got Talent and its winter edition, America’s Got Talent: The Champions. He also has had recurring roles in the television programs Are We There Yet and Arrested Development. His film credits include White Chicks, Bridesmaids and Blended.

He also wrote a memoir in 2014 called Manhood: How to Be a Better ManOr Just Live With One.

In 2017, TIME identified Crews as one of the “Silence Breakers” for his willingness to support and lend credence to women’s claims of sexual violence while also speaking out about his personal experience of harassment in the entertainment industry.

Crews’ visit to Nashville is a collaboration with YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. He will speak at the organization’s SHIFT conference, organized by Vanderbilt alumnus Shan Foster, who is vice president of external affairs and AMEND Together at the YWCA.

Auditorium doors for the Chancellor’s Lecture will open at 5:30 p.m. for this non-ticketed event. Seats are available on a first-come basis, and parking will be available in the 25th Avenue Garage.

Crews is one of several speakers in the fall Chancellor’s Lecture Series, which has the theme of “Culture of Respect; Culture of Caring.” The lineup of events aligns with efforts across Vanderbilt to support and build connections among the university’s inclusive, cooperative community.

The Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Lecture Series strives to connect the university and the Nashville community with leaders and visionaries who are shaping our world. For more information about the series, visit the Chancellor’s Lecture Series website, email or follow @VU_Chancellor on Twitter and Instagram.