The Hollywood Reporter initially published this story.
I wasn’t exceptional in college by any means. I studied English literature because I knew that charm and charisma could influence my overall grade in a way they couldn’t in math and sciences. I sang a cappella in a group whose repertoire was stuck in the 1940s and was a bottom-rung substitute on the squash team.
My crowning achievement was being chosen by my peers to deliver my class’ graduation day address, known as the Harvard oration. It was a genuine honor. Little did I know it would foreshadow my role in creating the world’s most popular deepfake. As it would turn out, giving that speech really screwed with my head.
I was supposed to deliver an original speech from memory not only to my classmates but also to members of the governing boards, honorary degree recipients, the entire faculty, proud parents and throngs of alumni. The attendance clocked in at about 32,000.
I wrote and prepped and rehearsed endlessly for the big day. Seemingly everyone in the world who mattered to me would be in attendance. And just as I was summoned to come up and take my place among the three centuries of Harvard commencement orators before me, I heard a different name than mine being introduced. “He wears many hats on campus, but you probably know him best as the Tom Cruise guy, please welcome to the podium …”
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