LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Rodney Chrome was chosen to be the commencement speaker this year for New York University in May. His speech focused on topics like sexuality and representation. His words brought world renown celebrity Taylor Swift to tears.
Growing up, Rodney dreamt about being an artist. He said, “I grew up always wanting to be in the creative field, but I studied football and stuff like that. Then I came here to Dance Dynamics, and found my true passion for music and the arts.
He decided to attend a summer camp at NYU the summer before he graduating, stating that the camp changed his life. While rounding out his senior year, he was nominated by his department heads to be the commencement speaker.
He said the process included, “I don’t want to say eliminations, but basically you have to present your speech and write it.” After presenting his speech to a board of around 20 people from the university, he was selected.
There were around 32,000 people that attended the first commencement back in person since the pandemic, including Taylor Swift.
He began his speech about growing up in Arkansas. He said, “you see… I was born and raised in the small town of Little Rock, Arkansas. As a black male growing up in the hood I didn’t see possibilities outside of poverty”. He also talked about what it was like not having people in your community you relate too.
He said, “I didn’t see someone who was black, who was gay, who was also unafraid of any opinion that’s formed against them. So you know what I did… Since I didn’t see that image, I created it for myself”, making Taylor Swift shed a tear.
He said, “everybody was just talking about this tear that she is wiping away… and in that moment I really did understand the power of my story.”
Along with his powerful speech, are his powerful lyrics and dance moves. Rodney said his main message is to show that no matter where you come from, you can achieve anything you put your mind too. “I’m just trying to make that voice known that Rodney Chrome is here to inspire”, said Chrome.
Rodney has some very exciting projects coming up in the future with his music and companies like Netflix and Disney+.