Celebrities have always seemed really distant and sometimes even fake to me. I forget that they’re real people, and honestly, can you blame me? They fill our screens and can make us feel an array of emotions. There’s no way people like that can be real.
Except they are.
Before they were famous, they were just like us: going to school, hanging with friends, dealing with all sorts of problems that come with growing up.
Anna Kendrick helped me realize that. Her memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody, takes us through her life, starting with her at age 4. Thanks to her pediatrician, Dr. Handsome, she wanted to be a doctor, which didn’t last very long (I mean, we all wanted to be a doctor at one point, right? Right?).
We owe our exposure of Kendrick’s wittiness and scrappiness to her older brother Mike. As is true with most younger siblings, she idolized Mike. She wanted to do whatever he did. When their father encouraged them to play sports, and Mike’s interest dwindled, Kendrick’s did, too.
At the peak of Vanilla Ice’s career, Mike decided he wanted to take up hip hop. He even mastered “the look”: baggy pants with neon, geometric patterns. Soon after, Kendrick decided that she wanted to take dance lessons, too. Her parents agreed on one condition: she had to do tap and ballet, not hip hop.
Seeing her potential (and resemblance to Shirley Temple at the time), her dance teacher suggested she sing Shirley Temple’s classic “On the Good Ship Lollipop” at their next recital. While she epically tanked that performance, she was hooked on showbiz. The next year, encouraged by the same dance teacher that had her sing the classic song, Kendrick began performing in a local theater. From the local theater to Broadway to indie films to the grandness that was/is the Twilight series and an Oscar nomination for Up in the Air, we have Mike to thank for the quirky, genuine Anna Kendrick we have today.
In her memoir, Kendrick not only reminds us that celebrities are people and started off like anybody else, but also that we are not alone.
Here are five things Scrappy Little Nobody taught me.
1. Even boyfriends can slut-shame you
Kendrick is open about everything in this book from how often she got high, to using her fake ID for the first time, to sex. She tells us somewhat in-depth about her first time and how she quickly became slightly over-excited about sex after her first time. This ended up being “too sexual” for her boyfriend at the time. Apparently, her enthusiasm was a turnoff.
“If you want your eventual wife to be excited about sucking your dick for forty years, don’t create a generation of women who think enthusiasm about sex is a bad thing.”
2. You have to work to get to where you want to be
Nothing is ever going to just fall in your lap. You have to work towards it, learn from it and fight for it. Kendrick has a little token to remind her of all of this – find your token.
“I rarely give advice… but as a suggestion, find your most psychotic baby picture and have it on hand for those days when you want to throw in the towel… I put [my] picture on my desk so that when I feel sorry for myself, her fearsome little face will be staring at me, saying, ‘Get off your ass and fight, woman!’”
3. Anxiety happens to us all
Anxiety gets the best of all of us sometimes, including Kendrick. At the peak of her fame, around the time of her nomination for Up in the Air, Kendrick was dealing with some intense anxiety. She was going from press event to press event but still going home to her tar-stained carpet in her IKEA-furnished room every night.
“…the insecurity I feel about the Grand Canyon-size gap between my real life and people’s expectations is giving me relentless anxiety, so if we could just cool it, that would be great.”
4. Family is and always will be your biggest support system
When Kendrick was 12 years old, she and her brother went into Manhattan for an audition. What was meant to be just a day trip stretched across a weekend. She got a part on High Society, and she was unsure how long she would have to be in New York for. Her dad, a substitute teacher at the time, moved to Yonkers with her, and they commuted into the city every day for her shows.
“In the car ride home, I was quiet, and Dad said, ‘You really needed the night off when you said you did, huh?’ I nodded and he hit the steering wheel. I hated that he was mad. Which is weird since he was only mad because he hadn’t been able to make me happy. Love is some funny shit, right?”
5. You shouldn’t have a backup plan
This seems like really weird advice, right? But the reasoning behind it makes sense.
“Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had more skills, but if I’d had a safety net, I would have used it.”
Had Kendrick had a safety net and had she used it, I wouldn’t be writing this today. A safety net seems like a brilliant idea, but it seems like it would be way too easy to just accept defeat early on because you have said backup plan. It could keep you from achieving your full potential because you never had to push through and fight to get there.
My biggest takeaways: Don’t have a backup plan. Don’t settle. Reach for the dream that doesn’t falter.