Arts Issue: Hollywood ‘It Girls’ win audiences over with charm

April 10, 2014

courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

With her subtle femininity, sheer beauty and sincere persona, the “It Girl” — any up-and-coming performer who charms her way to fame — is idolized by Hollywood and its adoring audience. This archetype has evolved from a periodical phrase to a legitimate distinction in the entertainment industry.

Those who hold the “It Girl” title earn this renown in a number of ways. For one, these women have undeniable talent. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, this year’s celebrity icon, did not win over the hearts of millions by simply parading her evident elegance around.

Nyong’o’s raw and honest portrayal of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” left audiences in awe of her ability to evoke vulnerability on screen. This talent allowed the world to recognize her humble and inspiring perspective on acting when she accepted numerous awards for her performance. Though she has only a few roles to her name, she will likely continue to captivate filmgoers with her pronounced passion for the craft.

Other “It Girls” from years past have earned the honorific thanks to a well-received public persona. Jennifer Lawrence, an actress with acting ability comparable to Nyong’o’s, is prominently recalled for her relatable and endearing personality.

Whether detailing her love of junk food and laziness or advocating for body acceptance, Lawrence is identifiable because she understands the issues her fans face. This approachability makes her seem less like a high-profile celebrity and more like a peer. In an industry dominated by superficiality, Lawrence and others like her are praised for their charisma and rejection of insincere motivations.

Boasting the flattering “It Girl” name seems like it would be a road to perpetual stardom. But despite the glowing status of the label, it can also yield petty predicaments.

Just this year, Nyong’o and Lawrence were set against each other in the media because of their similarities in both aptitude and popularity. Nyong’o, being the newer actress of the two, received more support from fans, as Lawrence was ousted from her “It Girl” position because of the assumption that she was jealous of her counterpart’s fame.

It is sometimes difficult to conceptualize a celebrity as being an actual person, but those dubbed “It Girls” can create an avenue where that divide seems less daunting — their magnetic allure only enhances a wonderful presence. Viewers invariably connect to these performers in one way or another, rendering their place in many hearts timeless.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 10 print edition. Ife Olujobi is film editor. Email her at iolujobi@nyunews.com.

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