Make It New Grads

What you can learn about life from Oscar-winner Helen Mirren's tattoo


In honor of graduation season, CNBC Make It is rolling out the speeches and pieces of advice that America's leaders are most excited to share with the Class of 2017. Follow along using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads.

Helen Mirren is known for being an Academy Award-winning actress; she is known for being a Dame (an honorary title appointed by the Queen of England). But in her commencement address at Tulane University on Saturday, she revealed something interesting: she has a tattoo. 

And, she says, young people would do well to keep close the message of her tattoo as they chart their own journeys through life. 

"I know, it's hard to believe, Dame Helen Mirren does have a tattoo. I got my tattoo when only Hells Angels, sailors and convicted felons got them," the British actress tells the graduates.

"When I was on my journey through young adulthood, in that glorious and confusing time that was the early 1970's, I looked in a lot of different places for answers — eastern, western and all over the place."

We're all in this together—remember that.
Helen Mirren
Academy Award-winning actress

Mirren found solace and inspiration in a Mayan phrase she discovered: "in La'kesh." She had it tattooed on her left hand.

"In La'Kesh," she explains, means "You are my other self. We are one. I am another yourself."

In other words, "We're all in this together," Mirren explains. "Remember that, so that you can make some sense out of and fix this crazy, crazy world." 

Even as technology is changing the world in which the class of 2017 will live their lives and build their careers, Mirren suggests young people use the ancient phrase tattooed on her wrist.

"The timeless truths of our common humanity — the ones that Shakespeare, Confucius, Moses, Christ, your grandparents and the Mayans understood — those truths will never change," she says.

"You are me and I am you. So just remember the words we talked about today — 'in La'kesh.'"

Look for more exclusive pieces of advice from icons like Melinda Gates, Dave Ramsey and others over the next few weeks. Follow along using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads.

See also:

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