Friday, 29 November 2013

10 Reasons why Jennifer Lawrence Kicks Ass

1.       She has been very upfront and outspoken about the film industries representation of actresses as waif thin, instead promoting a strong, healthy look that young girls can aspire to.

2.     Unlike most famous faces, who automatically dismiss their role model status, Jennifer is very aware of the fact that young girls look to her as an influence, particularly due to her portrayal of ‘Hunger Games’ heroine Katniss Everdeen. She acknowledges that if she presented Katniss as a starving, emaciated girl, audiences would potentially attempt to mimic her.

3.       Despite her rampant popularity (she most certainly is the ‘Girl on Fire’), Julia Roberts has proclaimed that Jennifer is too cool and edgy to be an American sweetheart.

4.       She gets overwhelmingly star struck when she encounters fellow famous people, such as John Stamos, Justin Timberlake and Meryl Streep.

5.       Jennifer Lawrence has not attended a single acting or drama class. She did however hone her skills in local theatre.

6.       Lawrence graduated two years early in order to initiate her film career. She clearly still valued the importance of having an academic education to cushion her.

7.       At the tender age of 23, she already has an Oscar under her belt.

8.       Jennifer was initially reluctant to accept the role of Katniss, having seen the effect of the huge success of the ‘Twilight’ series on lead star Kristen Stewart. Fortunately, after mulling over the offer for several days, she decided to accept.

9.       For her role in ‘Winters Bond’, Lawrence had to learn to chop wood, skin squirrels and fight.

10.    Unlike many stars, coerced into sexually explicit scenarios to further their careers, Lawrence made the calculated decision, after fearing that her roles to date had been too bleak and dowdy, to jazz up her appearance in a sultry red dress at the Oscars and attending a strategic GQ shoot. She was later offered the role of Mystique in the X Men Franchise.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

10 Inspirational Role Models for Women

Rihanna, Miley and Gaga might be the most prevalent women on the scene consuming column inches but there are still a myriad of respectable, talented and successful young women whom you can feel comfortable emulating. Refreshing, defiant and likeable, here are 10 women that females of all ages can look to with admiration.

1.       Jennifer Lawrence

Stunningly beautiful and bestowed with a vivacious, mercurial personality, Jennifer Lawrence’s career has catapulted her to astronomical success as she has become larger than life similarly to her on-screen characters.
Outspoken and down to earth, she has publically decried the obsessive onslaught of negative, restrictive media that brainwashes young girls into a one size fits all definition of female beauty. She has claimed she would never lose weight for a role and has often fought her corner within the industry maintaining that she wants to present herself as healthy and strong, not skinny and helpless.
Her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, one of the most motivational role models for girls, seems to have rubbed off some of its gold dust on the already insanely popular Jennifer, who oozes confidence, coolness and capability. The girl next door with an edge, Jennifer is a young woman who knows her own mind and paves her own way.

What you might not know: Jennifer was the girl behind the blue, portraying Mystique in the X-Men film franchise.

Inspirational Quote: There are actresses who build themselves, and then there are actresses who are built by others. I want to build myself.

 2. Lucy Lawless

Notorious for perhaps one of the most celebrated and revolutionary leading roles for women as Xena the Warrior Princess in the televised series, Lucy is a down to earth, kick-ass kiwi who had previously worked as a miner, travelled the world and was in the midst of raising a daughter when she gained the titular role that transported her to worldwide fame and acclaim.
The fiery intensity of her athletic, acrobatic character inspired a generation of girls to venture into the wild and identify their inner warrior. Xena’s unspecified relationship with sidekick Gabrielle also defined her as a lesbian icon with none of the exploitation or sleaze usually apparent in the depiction of female on female relationships. Lucy is also an environmental activist who still dabbles in acting.

What you might not know: Lucy considered training to be an opera singer before she realised just how restrictive and thus boring her life was required to be if she were to pursue it professionally.

Inspirational Quote: We live at the edge of the world, so we live on the edge. Kiwis will always sacrifice money and security for adventure and challenge.

3. Hudson Leick

Siren-faced, butter-blonde Hudson began her career as a model in Japan which she loathed and found uninspiring despite the fact that it offered her the opportunity to travel. After a spate of television roles she was granted the opportunity to play villainess Callisto the Warrior Queen, a grinning, gurning, gleeful representation of Xena’s twisted, destructive past.
As the antagonist of the piece, she embodied the perfect personification of a wild cat, leaping from pillar to post in the ladder arena and chaotically caterwauling her way through intense fight choreography.
Hudson sniped the role with her intense and intimidating portrayal during her audition and continued to perfectly capture the essence of the psychotic, vindictive, utterly complex Callisto. Although she still makes appearances at Xena conventions worldwide, Hudson is more renowned these days as a Yoga teacher, hosting retreats for those who wish to connect with the spirituality within their own bodies.

What you might not know: Hudson dropped her first name Heidi because she felt the name Heidi Leick (pronounced ‘Like’) sounded too much like a porn star name.

Inspirational Quote: No, I didn't study ... It's just from the inside.

4. J.K. Rowling


When Joanne Rowling was travelling home to London an idea entered her head fully formed. It was the story of a boy wizard forced to live in a cupboard. It is highly doubtful that she had any understanding that the story that germinated would go on to generate such success and monumental income!
At the time, Joanne was battling with depression, living in extreme poverty in a small flat as a single mother having just escaped an allegedly abusive relationship. Considering herself to be the ultimate failure, Joanne escaped into a world of magic and adventure, creating an entire new landscape of wizards, witches, muggles, gorgeously lyrical names, fantastical beasts and unique characterisations that captured the imaginations of children and adults alike and went on to inspire a franchise of films. Joanne represents a true rags to riches story.

What you might not know: Joanne’s intended audience for her Harry Potter series was young boys. Fearing that boys would not respond to a female author, she became ‘J.K.’.
Inspirational Quote: Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

 5. Carey Mulligan


Effortlessly adorable, cherubically charismatic, elegant, classy and graceful, shy Carey first breached the circle of success with her breakthrough role in ‘An Education’.
She went on to star in numerous other successes, such as ‘Shame’, ‘Drive’, ‘Never Let Me Go’ and most recently as Daisy Buchanan in ‘The Great Gatsby’. In her understated, gentle, warm way she lights fires in audiences hearts with her compassionate characterisations and achieves wild success whilst remaining humble, tenacious (she immediately got a seagull tattoo to prove her commitment to a project at the directors request), modest and displaying no vulgar nor attention-seeking antics.

What you might not know: Carey is presently married to Marcus Mumford, her former childhood pen pal.
Inspirational Quote: My generation tends to play it cool these days. But there is no room for cool. You have got to be irritating and desperate, and if you are not it is terribly boring

6. Kate Winslet

The movie that really thrust a young Kate into the limelight was ‘Titanic’, where red cheeked, flame-haired and robust with confidence; she sizzled and sauntered her way across the screen.
Now very much an institution, Kate picks roles that are hard hitting in a similar vein to the intensity and challenge required in ‘Heavenly Creatures’, with film successes such as ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, ‘Little Children’, ‘Revolutionary Road’ and ‘The Reader’.
Kate inhibits her characters flawlessly and with minimal effort and has also participated in film soundtracks with a mellow, strong voice. Kate is notoriously comfortable in her own skin, batting away criticisms about her curvaceous, healthy figure and speaking up about the industry. As an established actress, she remains fiercely true to the values and morals that she brought with her into the industry as a fresh faced youth.

What you might not know: Leonardo DiCaprio bestowed Kate with a gold inscribed ring. She refuses to divulge what it says.

 Inspirational Quote: Life is short, and it is here to be lived.

7. Angelina Jolie


Rebellious and eccentric in her youth, Jolie was famed for roles in films such as ‘Girl Interrupted’ and ‘Tomb Raider’. The press tagged her as a wild child with her penchant for tattoos, knifes in the bedroom and the fact that she publically kissed her brother. None of this sounds particularly inspirational does it?
Nonetheless, Jolie not only indented herself as an established, highly successful actress but she went on to support the UN in various humanitarian projects as well as adopting several children from numerous third world countries.
Although the rumour mill blew up explosively with controversy surrounding the establishing of her relationship with Brad Pitt, Angelina remains a mature, compassionate, thoughtful and always stunningly exotic woman. She also recently had a preventative double mastectomy after discovering that she had an alarmingly high rate of developing breast cancer, deciding to share her story with the masses to offer support to other women struggling with the ramifications of the illness.

What you might not know: At her lowest ebb, Jolie considered hiring a hit man to assassinate her.

 Inspirational Quote: If you don't get out of the box you've been raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is.

8. Sandra Bullock


Quirky, comedic Sandra has always had box office allure as the eccentric girl next door. Recently starring in space thriller, ‘Gravity’, Sandra is also known for films such as ‘Speed’, ‘Practical Magic’ and ‘Miss Congeniality’. She now runs her own production company and owns a restaurant and bakery whilst raising her adopted son as a single mother and continuing to contribute to the film world. She also had the pride and grace in her personal life to walk away from her unfaithful husband Jesse James in a dignified and respectful manner.

What you might not know: One of her grandfathers was a rocket scientist.
Inspirational Quote: I've learned that success comes in a very prickly package. Whether you choose to accept it or not is up to you. It's what you choose to do with it, the people you choose to surround yourself with. Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter than you. Always be the student. Once you find yourself to be the teacher, you've lost it.

9. Keira Knightley


When Keira emerged on the scene she was constantly blasted by harsh criticism lambasting her minimalistic build and pouty style of acting. Despite being a box office draw in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series, a zesty appearance as tomboy Jess in her debut ‘Bend it like Beckham’ and appearing as a petulant, wild teen in ‘The Hole’, Keira still had to handle herself against harsh media intrusion and did so with directness and grace.
She also deftly managed to marry in a quiet, unintrusive ceremony in an age where most celebrity couples squeeze every cent out of there union with magazine and newspaper deals. Her acting style has matured as her career has gone on and endured, most notably with her role in ‘Never Let Me Go’ alongside Carey Mulligan.

What you might not know: Is dyslexic.

Inspirational Quote: In this business, fame lasts for a second. You can be blown up and be blown down. People keep losing interest in faces because new ones come along every single second. I'm one at the moment. Tomorrow I won't be. That's cool. I'm not saying that when it does end, I'll be like, 'Yay! It's ending.' But I'll move on and do something else because that's what has to be done. It's about survival. If you're sad about it, then you're in the wrong job.

10. Kirsten Dunst


A child star with clout, Kirsten has always been more than a sunbeam smile and pretty hair. Notable for roles in films such as ‘Jumanji’ and ‘The Virgin Suicides’, her career continued down a valley girl path with rampant exceptions, such as ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, ‘On The Road’ and most groundbreaking of all, her collaboration with Lars Von Trier in ‘Melancholia’, where she played the hedonistically depressed Justine.
Her most outstanding childhood role was as the hysterical, cursed Claudia in ‘Interview with the Vampire’, where she portrayed an adult woman forever frozen in the body of a child. Kirsten has since gone on to create her own production company entitled ‘Wooden Spoon Productions’ which aims to focus on women in the film making industry.
What you might not know: Is a former Ford child model.
Inspirational Quote: On every film I do, whenever there are other girls my age, I think it's definitely up to me to set the pace. That's because I've had a lot of experience and I think there's always a certain amount of professionalism that should be maintained.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games franchise has initiated a ravenous hunger in audiences which only appears to be generating further momentum. The sequel, Catching Fire, brilliantly blends the allure of the first with the push required to drive along the story. Katniss Everdeen, portrayed by the wonderfully likeable and mesmerising Jennifer Lawrence is really a character to care for. Having proved victorious the first time around but threatening the precarious structure surrounding her, she is thrown into a Quarter Quell, a furious reunion of old champions relentlessly pursuing victory.

Dystopian, totalitarian, patriarchal and futuristic, the series mixes garish, grotesque capitalism and control with bare, bleak impoverished districts. The whacky, cartoonish, unsophisticated colours and fashions of the Capital remind me dimly of our modern day pop culture and its icons; Rihanna, Miley, Gaga. What is fundamentally refreshing about this series is that young girls finally have a heroine, an idol whom represents qualities they should strive for within themselves: independence, strength, intelligence, spirit and endurance. Katniss is the anti-Miley. She represents power, assertiveness and vivacity as well as a sense of courage and tenacity that is deeply appealing to young girls who scramble for role models and so desperately struggle to find good ones. She is particularly enticing because she is active, dominant and full of vigour whilst never sacrificing her femininity or womanhood.

Excitingly action packed and teeming with adrenaline, nerve-fraying, nail biting and intense, this is an unflinching look at the power of systems and the generation of fear and the human struggles that exist beyond the walls. It is also a hugely cathartic experience that reminds of the power of the individual to initiate hope and opportunity within the dispirited. Although my theatre was packed with pre-pubescent girls and middle aged couples (predominantly women!) I was also, as a 24 year old, absolutely sucked into this story. This shows that women have buying power and that they want to see a new kind of heroine represented on screen. They say that all the best characters are men, but perhaps we are seeing the dawn of exciting new representations of women and what they can do. Katniss never feels helpless, even in her vulnerability, never silly, even in her exotic dresses and extreme makeup, never gullible when trusting, never sexualised when beautiful and never butch when she behaves in an untraditional sense. She simply is a liberated, fleshed out character.

A little bit of Battle Royale, 1984 and The Running Man this is a story of the indomitable endurance of the human spirit and our capacity to survive and love. There is something for all audiences. There is the necessary love triangle that so rivets teenage girls; stable but uninspiring Peeta and handsome, solid Gale as well as some very handsome specimens of men to witness participating in the games. There is also the beauty of the sets, clothing and makeup which really helps to strengthen the uniqueness of this warped new world. There is the action, the fighting and the strategy required to survive the games and there is the ongoing saga of Katniss’ own personal happiness and future beyond this hell.

I can’t help but think the casting of Lawrence was simply brilliant for she helps bring this story to monumental life and deserves every second of her overwhelming success.