Despite some campus debate about his relevance to social change, many found Ashton Kutcher’s on-stage interview last night — part of the Lauren & Bobby Turner Social Impact Executive Speaker Series — pretty convincing.
For the event, Kutcher sat down with 1984 Wharton graduate Bobby Turner to discuss his career not only on the big and silver screens but also in the world of tech investing and children’s rights advocacy.
While past speakers in the series — including actress Eva Longoria and retired tennis player Andre Agassi — welcomed coverage by the media, last night’s event was closed to the press at Kutcher’s request.
After the talk, Wharton junior Maria Corella said Kutcher “was way more knowledgeable than [I had] expected, and he was very, very honest and candid about his answers.”
Corella also believed that Kutcher was “a great choice” for this year’s Social Impact Executive Speaker because “he wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, yeah, I want to save the world,’ but [explained] how he’s actually doing it and also how he can be successful doing it.”
Though some students have charged the Wharton series with favoring “star” speakers over other prominent figures in social impact, many attendees pointed to Kutcher’s candidness and passionate dialogue at last night’s talk as a token of authenticity.
“I was kind of surprised how genuine he was,” College sophomore Montana Buss said. “Sometimes you hear celebrities interviewed that seem very superficial, but I appreciated his candor.”
She added, “I liked how he talked about his family, his childhood, and then his career and he seems really committed to being an honest person and really giving the crowd what they were interested in hearing.”
“Honestly, I came because, you know — Ashton Kutcher,” said College freshman Amanda Irizarri after the event, “but actually, I loved hearing Bobby’s portion. It really stuck to me.”
Kutcher had first been scheduled to speak at Penn on Sept. 18, but canceled two days before the event to attend the late Kabbalah Chief Rabbi Philip Berg’s funeral in Israel.