It’s Jennifer Lawrence’s 28th birthday today (August 15), and because I’m not in a position to embarrass her with a public rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in her favourite restaurant, I thought I’d take a look back to the start of her acting career instead.
J-Law first significant acting appearance turned out to be pretty different to what she’d anticipated – to make matters worse, she’d already bragged about it to all of her friends.
While it might seem like the A-lister swooped into our lives as Raven in X-Men or the Mockingjay in The Hunger Games, J-Law actually built her career in a way many of us can relate to – she started from the bottom.
, meanwhile, you could say Jennifer had acting thrust upon her.
At 14 years old, the movie star was visiting New York with her family when a stranger asked to take her picture. A lot of people would be alarmed by this scenario, but it actually turned out quite well for Jennifer.
The stranger was actually a talent scout, who called the very next day to ask the then-unknown teenager to do a screen test.
After some persuasion from her brothers, J-Law’s parents allowed her to stay in New York for the summer, and her wildly successful acting career began.
It seems New York really is a concrete jungle where dreams are made. At least, that’s true if you’re Jennifer Lawrence.
Working hard to make her career take off, Jennifer moved to LA, where the actor scored her first TV show role at the age of 16.
After going in with high hopes, Jennifer’s first TV show appearance ended up being quite different to what she’d thought it’d be like.
Watch the amazing video here and see if you can spot her…
In case you didn’t spot her straight away, the blockbuster mega-star was the one in the cougar mascot costume.
I think I can safely say, a lot of us will have experienced something early on in our careers that we’d really rather not think about too much – whether out of embarrassment, unfortunate memories, or just plain denial you didn’t walk in at the top.
Lawrence’s first TV appearance is a combination of all of these things.
Appearing on the TV show Monk, the movie star donned the cougar mascot costume and jumped around in the background of the scene, showing her support for the basketball players on court.
Jennifer also leaped onto the coach in celebration at one point, although whether this was a scripted move or simply a desperate attempt to make Monk viewers pay attention to her, we may never know.
The Hunger Games star was a guest on Conan where she revealed playing a large cougar on TV debut wasn’t the most embarrassing thing about the situation.
Watch the interview here:
Jennifer explained how, when she was cast for the episode of Monk, she thought she was going to be playing a character called Emily C.
Excitedly, she told her friends at church about the role, bragging about her ‘great, huge part’, only to find out she was actually going to be playing the mascot.
She called the experience ‘the most humiliating thing’ in her entire life. Though, the actor has gone on to do some fairly embarrassing things since then, which could probably rival the cougar.
Like the time she accidentally kissed Natalie Dormer:
before i go to sleep let me remind you that jennifer lawrence and natalie dormer kissed on cam bye pic.twitter.com/dETHKtXyge
— s ? (@shraderlark) May 30, 2016
And of course her outstanding Oscar fall:
— lawrence (@brieIarsonn) August 15, 2016
I bet she would have actually loved to have had her cougar mask to hide behind when that happened!
But of course, young Jennifer hadn’t yet fallen over in front of the entire world, so the Monk mix up probably was the epitome of humiliation at that point.
Rather than facing up to the fact she’d bragged to all of her friends about the wrong role, Jennifer completely avoided the situation, admitting she simply never returned to church again.
I’d have probably done the same, to be honest.
Despite being in costume for the majority of her screen time, J-Law did manage to win herself a respectable two lines at the end of her appearance.
The Silver Linings Playbook and Passengers star pulled off her cougar mask as she entered the changing room and said ‘I need a break’, before revealing the score was ‘all tied up’.
Just nine years later, she was thought to be the highest paid female actor in the world.
Jennifer has explained to CBS in the past, once she found her way into acting, she didn’t want anything to get in her way. (Probably why she never returned to the restrictive cougar costume).
Jennifer jumped from assisting to leading roles after she got her ‘big break’ on The Bill Engvall Show, where she played the archetype of an angsty sitcom teenager.
The show focused on an American household at the heart of which was father Bill Pearson, a family counsellor whose career didn’t always help him when it came to his own family.
The show ran from 2007-2009, and appearing as Lauren, 17-year-old Jennifer experienced sibling rivalry, rebelling against her parents, and trying to express her individuality.
Watch Jennifer in The Bill Engvall Show here:
The up-and-coming actor lived her late teenage years through the role of Lauren, who came across as a pretty normal teenager, but with an added spark of comedy to entertain the audience. At the end of the day, Lauren was funny because people could relate to her actions.
Her role in The Bill Engvall Show may have made Jennifer realise that people react well to what is essentially just normal behaviour – potentially encouraging her to come across in the relatable way she does in public.
For example, she wasn’t afraid of getting grease on her dress when she tucked into some pizza at the oscars:
Highlight of the oscars: Jennifer Lawrence orders pizza pic.twitter.com/BgLtEOIUXd
— catnip (@LittleMissJLaw) March 3, 2014
She likes to photobomb pictures when she can:
Because in year 22, she gloriously photobombed Sarah Jessica Parker… | Why Jennifer Lawrence's 22n pic.twitter.com/dLuFrGozaz
— Anastasia Albrecht (@AnastasAlbrechb) August 7, 2016
Jennifer Lawrence the queen of photobombing, I swear she makes Hollywood so much more fun by being herself pic.twitter.com/355ExOggjh
— puta ??????? (@KATNlSSLAWRENCE) August 14, 2016
And she’s not afraid of sharing her political opinions about the US President:
— lawrence (@brieIarsonn) August 15, 2016
The Bill Engvall Show unfortunately got cancelled after two years, but that was all the time Jennifer had needed.
From there, she proceeded to dominate the big screen, appearing in romcom Like Crazy before moving on to the intense dystopian drama and science fiction of X-Men and The Hunger Games, slowly but surely giving the world a new icon.
The actor has proven herself to be a master of all character types, nailing the vibrant ‘other woman’ Sam in Like Crazy, the troubled Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook, the glamorous Rosalyn in American Hustle, and the dark, deceitful ballerina Dominika in Red Sparrow.
Without any formal acting training, the talented young star earned her first Oscar nomination at just 20 years old for her performance in Winter’s Bone.
Now, at the age of 28, Jennifer has climbed the ranks of stardom and found herself among A-listers – but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped being down-to-earth.
Much like the complete avoidance of facing an embarrassing situation after her Monk mix-up, and her teenage-fuelled disagreements with parents on The Bill Engvall Show, she’s continued to do the things which have made millions of us say ‘that’s me’ – despite the cameras of the paparazzi cameras focussing on the actor more and more.
Yes I fell in front of the stage at the awards ceremony today BUT Jennifer Lawrence fell at the Oscars so really I was being trendy
— Emily Loof (@EmilyLoof) April 27, 2018
"I want pizza with my face on it." Don't we all, Jennifer Lawrence?
— Score Pizza Rideau (@ScorePizzaYOW) August 3, 2018
Jennifer Lawrence is me in every situation pic.twitter.com/or4LZwQXiy
— puta ??????? (@KATNlSSLAWRENCE) December 21, 2015
Of course, living life under the spotlight is always going to be met with some moments of controversy, and Jennifer is no different.
Check out her most controversial moments:
The film star has taken criticism in her stride, and even admitted in an interview with CBS, she’s ‘always been very self-aware about [her] annoyingness.’
But despite the occasional blunder, I think the American Hustle actor still manages to remind us, regularly, she’s just an ordinary person who’s trying to live her best life – and if that means putting on a cougar costume to drive your career, then so be it.
Happy Birthday, Jennifer!
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