'Parks and Recreation' star announced as SPEC Connaissance speaker

Retta Sirleaf is known for playing Donna Meagle on 'Parks and Recreation'

· March 5, 2014, 8:59 pm   ·  Updated March 6, 2014, 5:04 am

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Wednesday evening, SPEC Connaissance announced that Retta Sirleaf, who plays Donna Meagle on Parks and Recreation, will be their spring speaker. The event will be held in the form of a comedy show. 


The Special Events and Planning Committee wants you to “Treat yo’ self” at its upcoming speaker event.

On Wednesday evening, SPEC Connaissance announced its spring speaker as Retta Sirleaf, who plays Donna Meagle in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” The event, which will take the form of a comedy show, will occur on Monday, March 24 at 8 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium at the Penn Museum.

“This is something unique that we’re doing because SPEC Connaissance in the past has only done speaking events,” Wharton sophomore and Connaissance director Vicky Zhao said. “We really wanted to expand to a different field and thought that a comedy show would be something that the student body would be really interested in.”

Sirleaf, who goes by her first name Retta, graduated from Duke University and then worked as a chemist for GlaxoSmithKline in North Carolina. Although she planned to go to medical school, she instead moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian.

The event will begin with a student performing arts group followed by Retta’s comedy performance. It will conclude with an audience question-and-answer segment.

“We’re expecting pretty substantial discussion because she’ll have very interesting things to say about being a woman in [the] very male-dominated industry of comedy,” College junior and Connaissance Director Gabriel Jimenez said.

Tickets are currently available online and will also be sold on Locust Walk after students return from spring break.

“She’s a great find because she is hilarious and relatable,” College sophomore Twenewaa Adu-Oppong said.

Adu-Oppong also shared her optimism about SPEC’s choice.

“People tend to think of black women as this monolithic group so they will look at her and make snap judgements, but Retta will definitely keep you on your toes,” she said.

Last year, Connaissance hosted Jason Sudeikis, along with other comedians as a part of a larger spring speaker series. The success of last year’s comedy show, along with committee member suggestions and campus-wide surveys, influenced this year’s choice.

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