This month’s AWFJ’s Spotlight is focused on multi-talent Anna Kendrick, 29, who is having quite a moment at year’s end. Whether as a standout as Cinderella in the much-anticipated movie musical Into the Woods (opening Dec. 25) or a button-cute spokeswoman in a bit of a bind for Kate Spade’s high-end fashion line in the ho-ho-haute holiday ad titled The Waiting, this star is ascendant. Read on…
All About Anna
Pert, petite and packed with talent, Kendrick has been a pro who put work first from the get-go, becoming the third-youngest Tony nominee at age 12 for her role in the 1998 Broadway production of High Society. She would move onto movies and raise her profile considerably as Jessica Stanley, one of Bella Swan’s high-school chums, in the supernatural soap-opera phenom known as the Twilight franchise. The rare film series driven by female moviegoers that ended in 2012 took in a total $1.4 billion at the box office.
She stepped up her game considerably onscreen in 2009 as a fledgling corporate downsizer learning the ropes from George Clooney in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. She earned rave reviews (“The ferocious Ms. Kendrick, her ponytail swinging like an ax, grabs every scene she’s in,” wrote New York Times critic Manohla Dargis) and a supporting Oscar nomination
In 2012, Kendrick would land what has become her defining lead role in Pitch Perfect, one that fully capitalized on her musical gifts and screwball comedy chops. She seemed born to play college freshman Beca, an edgy outsider who becomes the MVP of the Bellas – her school’s all-girl a cappella group. The sleeper hit, whose first-weekend ticket buyers were 81% female and under 25, doubled its box office overseas for a $133 million total. Its cultish popularity continued to boom on cable movie stations and on DVD.
Big Career Scores
Kendrick also scored a hit single off the film’s platinum-selling soundtrack with a novelty tune called Cups – a rendition of 1931’s When I’m Gone that employs the rhythmic use of claps and a plastic cup – that sold more than 3.5 million copies and reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in August 2013.
The actress will reprise her starring role in a sequel to Pitch Perfect, due May 16, 2015 and directed by Elizabeth Banks, who once again co-stars and produces.
The film’s success has made Kendrick a most-wanted player in other movie musicals. Besides Into the Woods, she is front and center in The Last Five Years, an adaptation of a nearly all-sung 2001 off-Broadway show about a disintegrating relationship. It arrives on Feb. 13 next year. The movie received a mixed reaction when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September but the glowing praise for her performance as a struggling actress married to a hotshot writer was nearly unanimous.
Why we chose her: It is impossible not to admire – if not adore — someone as blessed with talent and self-effacing humor as Kendrick.
As she recently told Marie Claire magazine about being judged for her looks: “The most common thing I get is, ‘Am I the only one who doesn’t think Anna Kendrick is pretty.’ And you’re like, ‘No, you’re not the only one. Arguably all the boys in my high school agree with you.’”
Unlike many up-and-coming actresses, she actively shuns celebrity while exhibiting a strong work ethic. Somehow, she manages to maintain a highly entertaining Twitter account — @AnnaKendrick47 — that has drawn 3 million followers. She good-naturedly swears, admits to drunk tweeting occasionally and yet still exhibits a highly relatable girl-next-door appeal with the slightest hint of mischief.
That she is now part of a potentially ongoing franchise with Pitch Perfect, a rare series aimed at young women that is not based on the YA collection of books and also features a female director for its sequel, is also something to applaud.
And if her participation in movie musicals boosts the genre, which more often than not puts women in the forefront, we salute her efforts.