Common Wants You to Apply to College: What His New Project With First Lady Michelle Obama Is Doing for Teens

E! News/July 19, 2016

Common wants to see this country’s youth with a college degree.

The Oscar winner has teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama and a handful of celebrity faces, including GhostbustersMelissa McCarthy and Hollywood legend Robert DeNiro, to raise awareness about the Reach Higher campaign with a brand new public service announcement celebrating College Signing Day. According to the Suicide Squad star himself, Common was quickly on board to help after hearing about the opportunity from the first lady.

“I love the first lady. She’s inspirational to me and I feel like she’s very authentic and down to earth and sincere,” he told E! News. “Attending college is something that I think is a benefit to anybody’s life.”

It certainly was for the Grammy winner, whose mother was previously a teacher. While Common got a record deal before he could finish at Florida A&M University, the time he spent there studying business administration made a lasting impression.

“I loved college,” he continued to E! News. “[Those were] some of the most beneficial years of my life attending college and the things that I learned definitely helped shape what I’m doing now.”

Aimed at teenagers ages 14 through 19 years old, Obama’s initiative is meant to encourage American students to pursue further education beyond a high school diploma.

In the process, the program has sought the help of the Better Make Room campaign, which provides tools and resources to young people for understanding the college application process, including how to register for the SAT and ACT, visit campus and fill out the FAFSA.

For the majority concerned about breaking the bank with tuition, the first lady has sponsored her own finance course on Napkin Finance, where students can learn about paying for college through easily digestible lessons on—you guessed it—digital napkins.

While the first lady is busy spearheading her Reach Higher campaign, Michelle has been a subject of recent political controversy surrounding potential future White House resident, Melania Trump. After speaking on the first day of the Republican National Convention Monday night in support of her husband, Melania was accused of plagiarizing parts of the first lady’s speech from the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Though those close to the Trump campaign have denounced any such plagiarism, Common said the ordeal was an indication of how Trump and his team may underestimate the American people’s intelligence.

“Why would you take someone else’s speech and thoughts when we are depending on this to be a platform for you to show who you are?” he told E! News. “For you to give that to the American people—somebody else’s speech—you’re not representing your authentic self.”

As for what Common will be doing in the polls come November, there is one certainty: “I’m definitely not going to vote for [Donald] Trump.”

Instead, the actor is in favor of a woman occupying the highest political office in America. “There’s something that’s caring about so many women and I think that type of leadership and hopefully compassion will be there with Hillary Clinton.”

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