Celebrity Speaker Secrets
University of Houston reveals big-money fee for Matthew McConaughey speech
In January, the University of Houston announced that actor Matthew McConaughey would address graduating students at the school's spring commencement ceremony in May to great fanfare.
After keeping silent about the fee McConaughey was to receive for the speech, UH has revealed that the Academy Award winner will be paid $135,000 for his speech. The university will also cover the Austin native's travel costs.
UH officials say McConaughey will donate the money to the Just Keep Livin Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the actor and his wife that is dedicated to empowering high school students. The foundation serves more than 2,000 students at 24 programs in California; Texas; Louisiana and Washington, D.C.
The school will also pay Celebrity Talent International, the booking agency that helped UH select McConaughey, $20,250 — 15 percent of McConaughey's fee. The agency has no apparent ties to the actor and does not represent him. UH will pay McConaughey with revenue generated by its continuing education program, which offers certificate programs, online courses, workshops and more to non-UH students.
Almost 5,000 students will attend the May 15 ceremony at the school's new TDECU Stadium.
While McConaughey's fee may seem exorbitant, universities regularly spend big money to draw A-list speakers. Last June, students at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas held protests following the school's announcement that the institution planned to pay Hillary Clinton $225,000 to speak at an invitation-only event.
According to Bloomberg, California universities paid more than $7.5 million for speeches and performances between 2012 and 2014. Fees included $110,000 to singer Tony Bennett and $75,000 to actor William Shatner. McConaughey's alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, does not pay commencement speakers.