30 March 2009

Kristin Chenoweth on success

I've suffered greatly from a lack of female role models in my life, not just because I happen to work in technical fields. I notice that I used to idolize older men, both in media and personal life. I liked older British actors, in particular, like Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, and Alec Guinness. In real life, it was male teachers as father figures and mentors.

Now that I'm out of college, no longer under the pressure of constant deadlines, I take in a lot more pop culture. I find myself gravitating to young female actresses as role models. (Sadly, I just haven't found many female physicists that I connect with.) I admire Sarah Michelle Gellar (Prinze) of "Buffy" fame and more recently, Broadway actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth. They seem hard-working, grounded, and ambitious.

I enjoyed this New York Times interview with Chenoweth from 2006. A few choice bits:
She drew further criticism when she appeared in a parade of tiny bikinis in the March 2006 issue of FHM... “I’m a young woman, I like men, I’m not going to pretend to be what I’m not,” she said. “Anyway, I’ve finally graduated from the college of I Don’t Give a Hoot.” But “hoot” was not her first choice of words.
Go Kristin! I'm finally starting to get this concept but I have a lot of work to do.
“Last night,” she said, “it was this line from ‘The Apple Tree’: ‘The Really Real Acting Academy has shown me that all my films, alas, are naught but tinkling trivia, sugary, shoddy, shallow shadows. Schlock.’ How am I going to say that? How am I going to make that funny? It’s so frustrating because people say, ‘It comes so easily to her,’ or ‘She’s just playing herself.’ Well, I work my butt off. These ideas don’t come from nowhere. You have to think them up. Sometimes I think until I think my head might explode.”
I don't understand why so many Americans think that success comes easily. There is technique and practice behind everything, whether it's sports, acting, or science.
“I BeDazzle everything,” she said. “It’s a sickness.”
Apparently, Chenoweth applies stick-on rhinestones to everything. I just threw that quote in, for amusement.
“People could be so awful,” she said. “I remember once I was in the bathroom, and this basketball player girl came in and said, ‘I just want to punch you out.’ When I said, ‘How come?’ she said: ‘Because you’re happy all the time.’ And I said: ‘You know what? I’m not happy all the time. I’m human. And I’d really like to leave the bathroom now.’ That’s when I realized: Oh my God, they’re mad at me because I’m talented. Because I do something they don’t do. But they have their gifts. Why do they envy mine?” Ms. Chenoweth said she now resolves this sort of thing by cutting off contact “the minute something goes awry with me and another female.”
I don't understand why people can be so cruel. And I completely understand the statement about female drama. A female friend of mine recently told me that she wanted to only work in labs dominated by men. She had had horrible experiences with the other women in her lab.
She had experienced that star-making moment when alienation and empathy, both formerly experienced as painful, fuse into ecstatic pleasure and thus a lifelong mission. You are lifted up but also away. “I hate to say it made me a loner,” Ms. Chenoweth said, “but I did learn that there’s nobody else to rely on but you.”
I haven't become famous or successful, but I already feel like working in any competitive, creative field makes you somewhat of a loner. Creativity requires long trains of deliberation and solitude, honing your craft.

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