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It Happened Here

Natalie Portman, Syosset High School, Class of ’99

Actress Natalie Portman, born Natalie Hershlag, was born in Jerusalem, Israel but she grew up in Jericho and graduated from Syosset High School. The quotes next to her class of ’99 yearbook picture are lyrics from a Bjork song: “If travel is searching and home what’s been found I’m not stopping I’m going hunting” and Holly Golightly’s line from Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “I’m going and that’s all there is to it.”

Portman’s first major acting role was in The Professional and found success in the Star Wars prequel trilogy as Padme Amidala. She missed the premiere of her film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace to study for her high school finals.

Portman’s 1998 high school paper, “A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar,” was entered in the Intel Science Talent Search. Portman always excelled in the sciences. Before high school, she learned to speak Hebrew and attended the Solomon Schechter Day School in Glen Cove. She later attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights.

In the midst of her on-screen success, Portman enrolled at Harvard University after graduating from Syosset High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She went on to win two Golden Globe Awards, one for her starring role in the psychological thriller Black Swan. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2011.

Portman, who lived in Jericho for nine years, maintains both American and Israeli citizenship, but can now be seen roaming the streets of Paris, where she now resides with her ballet dancer fiancé Benjamin Millepied, whom she met while filming Black Swan, and their son, Aleph.

—J. Gallucci