Columbia College is pleased to announce that actor and producer Brandon Victor Dixon CC’03 will deliver the keynote address for its 2019 Class Day ceremony. The annual event — held this year on the South Lawn on Tuesday, May 21 — honors graduating College seniors. The Class Day speaker is selected annually by the College, based on a list of recommendations from the Senior Class Council.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Victor Dixon
Dixon has performed numerous starring roles in theater and television, including playing Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton CC 1778’s law-partner-turned-rival, in Hamilton: The Musical’s Broadway production.
“We are so glad that Brandon Victor Dixon has accepted our invitation to speak to the graduating class of 2019,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and vice president for undergraduate education. “From the great white way to the silver screen, Brandon’s journey reflects an inspiring example to all of our students about the power of using your voice and we are excited to welcome him back to campus for Class Day.”
As a high school student, Dixon — who is originally from Gaithersburg, MD — won a scholarship to attend Oxford University’s British Academy of Dramatic Acting and was a U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist. The first in his father’s family to attend college and a first-generation Jamaican American, he majored in drama and theater arts at the College before landing the role of Adult Simba in The Lion King’s national tour at age 21, interrupting his senior year at Columbia. He completed his degree in 2007 and the same year was awarded the I.A.L. Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts for his accomplishments.
Dixon was nominated for a Tony for his performance in The Color Purple and earned a Grammy nomination for his performance in Motown The Musical, in which he played Motown founder Berry Gordy. In 2014 he won both a Tony and a Drama Desk for his role producing Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Along with performing on and off-Broadway, Dixon has also performed in London’s West End and recently appeared in the live television versions of RENT and Jesus Christ Superstar. He currently has a recurring role as an attorney in the episodic drama POWER on the STARZ network and he will co-host the announcement of the 2019 Tony Awards nominees on Tuesday, April 30.
In addition to his work as a performer, Dixon co-founded WalkRunFly, a multimedia production company whose releases have included the Tony Award-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, Of Mice and Men with James Franco, and Moulin Rouge! The Musical. In 2018, he created a campaign called #WeAre for music-related collaboration in support of activist causes. Among its major beneficiaries is Young New Yorkers, an organization that aims to help rehabilitate juvenile first-time offenders.
“We believe that Brandon Victor Dixon is the perfect Class Day speaker for the Class of 2019, a class renowned for its energy and determination,” said Senior Class President Mina Mahmood CC’19. “He is an artist and an activist; he is courageous and exceptionally talented. He is an excellent example of someone using their platform, access and power to speak up for those who cannot.”