Why a heartwarming scene from ‘School of Rock’ has gone viral nearly 20 years later

Jack Black playing guitar in a classroom in "School of Rock"
Jack Black as substitute teacher Dewey Finn in 2003’s “School of Rock.”
(Andrew Schwartz / Paramount Pictures)

Jack Black’s beloved character from “School of Rock” is still imparting poignant life lessons nearly 20 years after the movie premiered.

A heartwarming sequence from the 2003 musical comedy has resurfaced on social media this week after writer and animator Hamish Steele shared on Twitter why it “stuck with him as a child.”

In the brief clip, wannabe rock star-turned-elementary school teacher Dewey Finn (Black) gives one of his students, Tomika (Maryam Hassan), an inspiring backstage pep talk about body positivity.


“This scene is more revolutionary than I think they even knew,” Steele wrote in a tweet that has amassed more than 447,000 likes and counting. “Especially the last line.”

“Whenever I see fatphobia I think of this scene and it makes me feel better,” he added in a follow-up tweet. “If you like Jack Black, shut the f— up about people’s weight. It’s that simple.”

The cult-classic film, written by Mike White and directed by Richard Linklater, stars Black as a haphazard guitarist who poses as a substitute teacher at a local private school and recruits his young pupils to form a competitive rock band.

Right before a pivotal performance, the most talented singer in the class, Tomika, comes down with stage fright, telling her teacher she fears the crowd will laugh at her “because I’m fat.”

“Tomika ... you’ve got something everybody wants. You’ve got talent, girl,” Black’s character tells her in the viral scene.

“You have an incredible voice, and I’m not just saying that. You heard of Aretha Franklin, right? She’s a big lady. But when she starts singing, she blows people’s minds. Everybody wants to party with Aretha! And you know who else has a weight issue? ... Me. But once I get up onstage, start doing my thing, people worship me. Because I’m sexy! And chubby, man.”


Starting in May, School of Rock students have the option to return to live learning. “I miss playing on stage with my band,” says 12-year-old Daniel.

April 20, 2021

When Tomika asks why her teacher isn’t “on a diet,” he simply responds, “Because I like to eat. Is that such a crime?”

The touching exchange lasts about 43 seconds, but its impact on children who saw themselves in Tomika is immeasurable, as evidenced by the ongoing emotional response to Steele’s tweet.

“As a chubby kid, I remember watching this scene and replaying it over and over,” wrote one person. “I felt ... seen. Jack Black spoke to every single kid and person that has been bullied because of their weight. Legendary behavior.”

“Jack black did more for my body image issues growing up as a fat girl than my mother or any other adult ever did,” tweeted another.

The music-themed comedy, starring Jack Black, earns an estimated $20.2 million, Washington’s ‘Out of Time’ finishes second.

Oct. 6, 2003

Even Hassan, who portrayed Tomika in “School of Rock” and is now a musician who performs under the name Mayhrenate, joined the conversation, saying she is “glad to have played a part in such an important moment/scene.” (Her latest EP, “Plush,” came out earlier this year.)

“As a child I didn’t realize the fullll impact of the scene but it definitely hits different today,” Hassan wrote Sunday in a tweet that has racked up more than 223,000 likes. In the replies, she confirmed that Black is indeed “cool and lovely” in real life and teased a potential “School of Rock” reunion approaching the film’s 20th anniversary.

“School of Rock” is available to stream on Hulu with a premium subscription and via video-on-demand. See more reactions to Black’s moving monologue below.