Jennifer Lawrence: a Fall to Stardom
When Jennifer Lawrence’s name was called our as the winner of the 85th Academy Awards for Best Leading Actress for the part of Tiffany Maxwell in the indie movie Silver Linings Playbook, the cameras focused on her beautiful face, revealing a genuinely surprised – not to say shocked – young actress – who looked around in disbelief – "Is this the right moment to pinch myself and wake up to my normal life, where I should be dating my local boyfriend and driving a minivan to help my mother supervise the kids at summer Camp Hi-Ho in Shelby County?" she may have thought. However, she decided against it. Instead, she stood up, hugged a couple of people nearby, and rushed to climb the stage stairs, tripping over her long trail dress and falling with a thud to the floor of the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles, right in front of the 40 million people who were watching the ceremony on TV that evening. She stood up graciously, approached the mike and calmly stared at the theater audience, who was giving her a standing ovation, saying: "You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing. Thanks." That was the moment she proved to the few skeptics who still resisted her charisma that Jennifer Lawrence’s career would be a long and successful one: she was a fighter with a lot of self-confidence and spunk, who could make jokes at her own expense…To say nothing of the fact that she had been astonishing the world with her naturalistic performances for the past 8 years - and getting serious awards for them – the latest and most important of them, just then, at age 22!
Quoting her character Joy in her latest movie of the same name – the story of a young woman who, living with a seriously dysfunctional family, somehow finds time to reconnect with the creativity she showed as a child and invents a new product (a more practical mop, of all things), has it patented, manufactured, marketed and sold to housewives all over America: "We got here from hard work, patience, and humility. Don't think the world owes you anything because the world owes you nothing."
We all know how hard it is to break through the clutter in the over competitive Hollywood, especially if you don’t come from any of the royal families that rule the industry or has had many years' formal training to become an actor, a time during which one builds a support network and forges alliances. Jennifer's path was different.
Jennifer Lawrence could not have had a more regular life growing up in Louisville, Kentucky – where she was born on August 15th 1990 - with her father Gary, who worked in construction, her mother Karen, who ran a children’s camp, and two older male siblings Ben and Blaine, who kept their younger sister in her toes, forcing her to play rough, participating in all their boys' games in the family house backyard. The family also owned a horse farm, where Jennifer learned and loved to ride.
From a very age early, she knew she wanted to be an actor. She acted out Saturday Night Live skits she saw on TV and participated in school dramas whose performances kept being singled out by watchful teachers. During a spring break when she was 14, she went to New York with her mother, and, while they watched girls hip-hopping in the street, they were approached by an agent who claimed to be recruiting young girls to audition for an H&M ad. Against her instincts, Jennifer’s mother allowed the photos to be taken. She wouldn’t regret her decision. From then on, invitations for modeling jobs started rolling in.
Lawrence doesn’t like to talk about her meteoric rise to stardom. "It makes people jealous, and they start to hate me", she complains. It’s true she has made it faster than most others. She started early and had the incredible luck of landing interesting roles in good small budget movies that would give her fair visibility – such as in the gritty indies The Poker House (2008) and Winter’s Bone (2010, for which she won nominations for best actress for both the Golden Globes and the Oscars in 2011), and also more mainstream movies, such as the comedy-drama Beaver, starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, who also directed it. Foster became Lawrence’s role model in Hollywood. She claims Jodie is one of the most grounded people in the industry. She considers acting a regular job and has since become a strong influence in Jennifer’s life.
In 2010, at age 19, Jennifer posed for a sexy photo shoot wearing a bathing suit to appear in the June issue of Esquire magazine. That was part of carefully thought-out strategy. She had acted with hardly any makeup on and disheveled in the previous indie movies she made; she missed some of the glamor usually associated with movie stars and was terrified at being typecast as a rugged mountain girl forever.
It worked. The photo shoot helped her land her first role in a blockbuster franchise: as Raven/Mystique in X-Men, First Class, which would allow her to finally have a bigger trailer (a secret dream) and to put on all the makeup she had ever wished for.
X-Men led to an invitation to audition for the role of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the famous dystopia the Hunger Games – other actresses of her generation such as Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Hailee Steinfeld (The Grit) were in the running for the role too. She was in London when she got the call saying the role was hers if she wanted it. As she loved the character of the book trilogy written by Suzanne Collins (they had been on the New York Times list of best sellers for three straight years!), she did not want to disappoint the other fans; she needed to consider the offer more carefully. Despite her excitement, she also knew that her life would never be the same: accepting the role meant that from then on she would be under the constant scrutiny of tabloids and this would put an end to her privacy forever. However, she also knew she would deeply regret turning down the job. After 3 days, she said YES, and the rest is history.
Jennifer Lawrence has now received her third nomination for an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Joy in the movie of the same name. The ceremony will take place at the end of February. Fingers crossed.