Entertainment

In Which I Prove That Lupita Nyong’o Is Better Than Jennifer Lawrence

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Lupita Nyong'o attending the Critics Choice Awards wearing a white dress January 2014

Lupita is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress based on her incredible work in 12 Years A SlaveLupita reminds me of the version of Jennifer that we met after Winter's Bone, who at this point has very little in common with the Jennifer from American Hustle. At least in my opinion.

That Jennifer was humble, still grateful and surprised to be garnering attention from the media, while this current version seems almost to expect it. She get thrown into a movie any time they want to appeal to a younger audience, and I can't imagine how easy it would be to become accustomed to that sensation without acknowledging the true enormity of how lucky you are. I understand that J-Law is talented, but she does not need every movie role. C'mon. In fact, it becomes distracting when she's miscast as women who are intended to be much older, as she was in American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer has gotten a reputation in the media now of succeeding without almost any effort at all. She dislikes rehearsal, and would rather dash off a natural, impulsive read for a role than spend time researching and developing it. She never looks like she's working hard at anything — from fashion, to acting, to interviews — and that's great, to a point. It's a rare gift, but when we reward someone too heavily for a gift, it can dull its edge and discourage them from working harder to turn that gift into a skill. Things seem to come easily to her, which doesn't encourage much forward momentum.

Which is a big part of why watching Lupita is such a relief for me. Here is someone who who is devoted to her craft and doesn't mind people seeing it. She didn't stumble into an audition, she traveled to the United States to train at Yale. She's here for a reason, and that reason is her life's work, not a hobby that she happens to be preternaturally skilled at. (For the record, I do think that Jennifer Lawrence has worked hard on movie roles, I jsut think we reward her for acting like she doesn't.)

Lupita doesn't pretend she isn't prepared, or didn't expect this. She prepares for award shows in case she should be honored, as she was at last night's Critics' Choice Awards. She knows how deserving she is, and how hard she works, and that comes through in the speech. She makes no effort to hide how thrilled and excited she is, but she remembers to thank everyone, because this was no accident. She wanted this moment and prepared for this moment and she earned this moment, and there's no shame in that.

She's a professional, trained actor. That's her job. It's not her job to be likable, which is an impulse I'm feeling more and more from Jennifer, to an overwhelming degree. I'm almost sure that it's just a matter of overexposure, and not a calculated move on Jennifer's part, but that doesn't make it feel any less grating.

To me, that is. I'm well aware that this isn't a popular opinion, that most people are still just as in love with Jenn as they always were. I'm the one who's changing, and I know that, because I used to love that she was this way! I found it refreshing that in the midst of all the feigned perfection of Hollywood, there was someone willing to be entirely herself, bumbling her way through things she didn't bother to pretend to care about, and becoming all the more likable for her lack of pretension.

I thought I'd always want that, but I changed, and I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me, but I had to say something, y'know? I'm just so ready for someone from that elusive middle ground between Jennifer and Anne, and I think I've finally found it in Lupita. She's real enough to admit that she works hard, and that this isn't something easy that anyone can do, but also professional enough to acknowledge that she's gotten really effing good at it. She's not just here for the food.

And for me, right now, today — Lupita is that person. The rising star, the up-and-comer, the breath of fresh air. She might not always be (because I'm kind of a jackass and can apparently get tired of everything), but in this moment, I couldn't be more thrilled with her success and the way she's handling it.

I think I've proven in this article that I can't always be my best self, Lupita. But thank you for being yours.

(Photo: Brian To / WENN.com)

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