Widely regarded as one of the best actresses of her generation, Jodie Foster has been in the industry for over half a century. Although she has demonstrated a flair for comedy, Foster is best known for her dramatic portrayals of misfit characters set against intimidating challenges. A precocious child, Foster started her career when she was just three, before rising to prominence at the age of 13 in the 1976 film Taxi Driver, for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In total, Foster has already appeared in more than 40 films, while continuing to work in the industry as an actress, director, and producer. Her stellar acting career has made her the recipient of four Oscars, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2013 she was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for Lifetime Achievement.
Foster enrolled in Yale University in 1981, already an accomplished actress. When the eighteen-year-old arrived in New Haven "on a warm August day in dolphin shorts," her biggest concern was trying to blend into the 5,000 other students who were tossing Frisbees and picking flowers along the well-worn paths crossing the campus. But unfortunately, her anonymity was "totally shattered" when she was stalked during her freshman year at Yale by John Hinckley, Jr., the man who later attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Still, not unlike one of the heroines she portrayed on screen, Foster was resilient. She turned her focus toward work and academics, appearing in five more movies while at Yale, and majoring in African American literature, which culminated in a senior thesis on Toni Morrison. In 1985 she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature.
Since then, the Academy-Award winning actress has made several notable returns to her alma mater for more than just a look around campus. In 1993, she was invited back to address Yale's graduating class. Then in 1997, Foster was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by her alma mater for her works in the fields of acting and performance. Then again Foster popped back up on school grounds when her work was honored by the University's Film Studies Program in 2009. More recently, Foster found herself on stage in front of nearly 800 Yale students and staff members who watched her receive the 2018 Yale Undergraduates’ Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Thank you so much for receiving me back in my hometown," said Foster at the ceremony. "This place means more to me than almost any place else…I came to Yale and the second I walked on campus it was like I had just found the love of my life."
Despite the fact that Foster has never taken formal acting lessons, she continues to produce work that will inspire people from her hometown, the Yale community, and the world at large.