Brooke Shields recently told new graduates of Princeton University, her alma mater, that she would have "never survived" a return to the entertainment industry had it not been for her college experience and joked that the Class of 2011 is made up of "a bunch of tools."
The actress, who turned 46 on Tuesday, May 31, spoke at the school's annual Class Day the day before. She graduated with honors from Princeton in 1987 and majored in Romance languages and literatures.
"Twenty-four years ago I was sitting right out there, where you sit today," Shields told Princeton University's Class of 2011, according to the school's website. "And I was wearing this signed and decorated orange and black jacket. It has 'Class of '87' painted all over it! My hair was huge! My Reeboks white. My jeans acid-washed. You weren't even born."
Referencing today's struggling economy, Shields said: "I say this in the most respectful way - you are all a bunch of tools. Yes, Brooke Shields is calling the entire class of 2011 a bunch of tools because you are tools that we need. Tools that we need to fix this country. Go out and be bankers, be politicians, scientists, artists, thinkers - but, you need to choose what kind of tool you want to be."
Shields rose to fame as a child and teen star, appearing in the 1980 movie "The Blue Lagoon" and modeling for Calvin Klein ads.
After college, she went on to appear in small films and guest-star on show such as "Tales From the Crypt" and "Quantum Leap" until she landed her own sitcom, "Suddenly Susan," in 1996. She has also had regular roles in shows such as "Lipstick Jungle."
"I was quite lucky to already have had a career in place upon graduating," she said. "And when I re-entered that career, I thought I would be welcomed back with open arms. I had lost all of my footing in those four years in their eyes and had to earn my way back inside."
"My point is - without the four years of learning and growth that culminated in my degree, I would have never survived my industry, a business that predicates itself on eating its young," Shields said. "I would have become a cliche. I would never have been able to adapt and to re-invent: from movies, to television, to stage, to author, to mom."
In her speech, Shields also talked juggling an acting career with school, recalling a moment when "Japan's Royal Prince Hirohito wants to meet you and the dean comes and gets you out of a midterm and asks you to go to Prospect House and welcome the prince to campus."
"It was crazy then!" she added. "Or when George Michael tells you he's not going to date you anymore because he wants to focus on his solo career! Then you find out he's gay! Right? These are all moments we have experiences and we will always laugh at! Oh, 1987, how I miss you."