Award-winning actress and “social action hero” Kathy Najimy will deliver the undergraduate commencement address on May 20, 2022, at Total Mortgage Arena (formerly Webster Bank Arena) in Bridgeport, Conn.
Best known for her work in more than 30 films (including the blockbusters Sister Act, Hocus Pocus, WALL-E, and Rat Race), as the voice of Peggy Hill on King of the Hill, and for her current roles on VEEP, Younger, and Graves, Najimy is also a celebrated advocate on the front line of a myriad of progressive social causes, including #MeToo and Time’s Up. Outspoken, energizing, and inspirational, Najimy combines her acting and talents with a passionate commitment to equality, women’s leadership, and issues ranging from increasing cancer research to LGBTQ rights.
As the Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, Najimy has been called a “social action hero.” She credits her drive to her strong desire to see all living things treated equitably. “First and foremost, I’m a feminist,” she says. “And basically that stems from a strong belief that all deserve equal opportunity, rights, and respect.” Najimy has also led the way for AIDS activism for 30 years and has been honored for her work for women’s and girls’ rights and self-esteem, reproductive rights, and student rights. A staunch advocate for animal rights, she was awarded the PETA Humanitarian of the Year Award, presented by Sir Paul McCartney.
Najimy’s producing and directing projects reflect her passion for equality and social
justice. She finished directing her first original short film, The Secret Club, and is currently producing a series about the Women’s Movement in the ’70s, in addition to developing Blue Woman, Red Town: A Journey into America, a documentary about the 53 percent of white married women who voted for former President Trump. She has also helped create the off-Broadway hit about the life of Gloria Steinem for Lincoln Center Theater.
Najimy has performed on Broadway and at Madison Square Garden to benefit V Day in The Vagina Monologues and is currently writing her solo show for the New York City stage, Lift Up Your Skirt. Her other notable performing credits include the multi-award-winning two-woman feminist comedy, Numb3rs (which she wrote,
directed and starred in with Mo Gaffney) and roles on the television shows Ellen, Veronica’s Closet, Numb3rs, That’s So Raven, Hey Arnold!, Chicago Hope, and The Big C. She has even been an entrepreneur, inventing and acting as the spokeswoman for a problem-solving new garment for women.
Najimy’s philosophy always engages and inspires: “We are all equal, connected by our sense of common humanity, and able to achieve great things together,” she says.