Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kentuckian of the Year: Jennifer Lawrence

As shown by our last entry, this has been an amazing year for Kentuckians.  Most years, any of the folks on our Honorable Mention list would have been the Kentuckian of the Year.  But of all the incredible accomplishments we've seen from Kentuckians, none has been more impressive than the meteoric rise of Jennifer Lawrence, who is currently the star of the Hunger Games series and who also won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.  In fact, based on the number of people who went to see her movies this year, Jennifer Lawrence was the number-one box office attraction for all of 2013.  According to Wikipedia, she is the highest-grossing action heroine of all time.  The Associated Press named her its Entertainer of the Year (she beat out Miley Cyrus, Netflix, Breaking Bad, and Justin Timberlake).  The Today Show named her its Celebrity of the Year.  With the possible exception of George Clooney, it's hard to think of any Kentuckian in recent years who has loomed so large in the culture.

We spend much of our time watching sports, and dealing with the hand-wringing of those who complain that we put to much pressure on young athletes.  But Jennifer Lawrence is almost exactly the same age as John Wall -- and while sports fans still (rightly) regard Wall as "young," Lawrence has already reached the very top of her profession.  Indeed, few recent actors have received such acclaim from both critics and fans.  That she has been not only kept her head, but has become a role model for many who admire her independence and down-to-earth attitude is even more impressive.

There are many advantages to growing up in Kentucky, but perhaps one disadvantage is that you are tempted to think that whatever you may be good at, there must be other kids -- kids from different, or more privileged backgrounds -- who are better than you.  Or you might tell yourself that life isn't fair, that other kids have better "connections," or are simply more "comfortable" in the grand world.  But the rise and rise of Jennifer Lawrence proves the old saying that there is always room at the top.  All over Kentucky, there are kids who will read about how the Hunger Games series features two Kentuckians (Lawrence's co-star, Josh Hutcherson, is from Union, Kentucky).  And they will see that life is more fair than it sometimes appears, and that talent and hard work really do make a difference.

So we name Jennifer Lawrence the 2013 Kentuckian of the Year. We hope she has many great years to come.

Prior Kentuckians of the Year:

2010:  Rand Paul (Bowling Green)
2011:  John Calipari (Lexington)
2012:  Darius Miller (Maysville)

1 comment:

  1. Silver Linings Playbook was such a good movie, but I didn't quite gather how big a deal Jennifer Lawrence has become until reading this post.