Actress Brooke Shields ’87 returned to campus for her 25th Reunion Friday, speaking at the Alumni-Faculty forum “Tigers in the Arts” about her acting and writing projects both on campus and after graduation. After the forum, she spoke to the ‘Prince’ about her time at the University and her experiences with Reunions and Class Day.
Q: Is this your first time coming to Reunions?
A: I am embarrassed to say that this is my first time coming back for Reunions. [Princeton] was such an important place of my life, and the fear of coming back and having it not be mine anymore so prevailed. Last year I came back to speak at Class Day and realized why have I not been coming back every year? I’ve missed out on 25 amazing parties!
Q: Why did you choose to come to Princeton?
A: It had always been a dream of mine. I wanted to go to an Ivy League school with this ivy, these buildings and these courtyards. My high school adviser said I wouldn’t get in. He said I should try Vassar. Vassar is a great school, but I went to a Princeton football game one day and I left and just said I have to be here living and studying every day.
Q: Where did you live on campus?
A: I lived in Blair; I was part of Mathey College. But there were security issues so I moved to an apartment in Palmer Square. The decision was less about me and more about not infringing on the other students. I didn’t want my problem to have to become everyone’s problem.
Q: You were a member of Cap & Gown Club. What was your Bicker experience like?
A: I think they put me through an extra-hard Bicker, but otherwise it was a normal process. I was so adamant about being in Cap because all my friends from both the theater and jock circles were there. I was so terrified of the actual night though. I wore a unitard under my jeans. This was also where I got my nickname "Double-Shot" because they didn’t just pass me down the stairs. They passed me down and up and down again. The idea of Bicker really shook me up. I’d gone to Winberie’s before [Bicker] with my roommate and had fettuccine and lots of bread so I wouldn’t throw up.
Q: What’s your favorite spot on Princeton’s campus?
A: Firestone. I love looking up and seeing all the carvings. I had some of my most quiet moments there leaving my B-Floor carrel at 11 at night.
Q: Did you have any classes in McCosh 50?
A: I had PSY 320. I remember learning about institutionalized psychotherapy, but I can’t remember the exact name of the class.
Q: What was it like to speak at Class Day last year?
A: I was more nervous there than anywhere else I’ve ever been. I’ve spoken at Congress and on aircraft carriers, but for this there was just so much anticipation. I wanted to merit it because I wanted it to matter and have them remember something. I wanted them to take something away, even just one little thing.
Q: What’s your advice for how to make the most of a Princeton education?
A: Work really hard. Play hard too but really take the moment to stop and look up, and you’ll see things such as carvings you haven’t seen before. There is so much pressure here, but you will never again feel so protected. Work as hard as you can — yes, play too — but really appreciate it because you’ll remember that more than how nervous you were. Also, I think a lot of people use the University to define themselves and have it precede them. People introduce themselves like “Hi — Princeton.” Have you seen that video, "The Ivy League Hustle"? The guy is a Wharton guy, and the girl is just like “I went to school in New Jersey.” You can let it unfold over time.