Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Leading Lady

"The Holiday" is not a perfect movie. It is, at best, a good movie. A movie that could be vastly improved upon doing the following:

1. Remove Cameron Diaz from the film.

Aaaaaand.... Yep. I think that about does it. "The Holiday" would have been an infinitely better movie if the entire story had centered on the Kate Winslet character of Iris. I specifically love the relationship between her and her elderly writer neighbor, Arthur Abbott. He is such a charming old man, and I find his (fictional) stories of old Hollywood utterly fascinating.

One of my favorite parts in the movie occurs when Iris and Arthur go out to dinner. Iris is lamenting about the status of her love life to Arthur when he gently admonishes her in movie speak:

"Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend."

This line resonated with me, though even now I can't pinpoint why. How does this apply to me? And ultimately-- what is a leading lady, anyway?

Oh sure, the leading lady is supposed to be the Elizabeth Taylors and the Lauren Bacalls of the world. The best friends are the Celeste Holms and the Debbie Reynolds of the world. But really, what does that even mean?

In my mind, Leading Lady is a tall, gorgeous woman who is always dressed fashionably, wears amazing high heels, and maybe even smokes using a cigarette holder. The action happens around her. She is the center of attention. She makes things happen.

Best Friend seems to be the one who is a little shorter and who pops in and out of the scene as the story calls for her. She is at the disposal of the leading lady and gives whitty one liners that makes the men laugh. And even though they're laughing with Best Friend, the men still end up leaving with Leading Lady.

But seriously, is that even real?

Within the confines of a movie, yes. Within my own life...sometimes.

In college I lived with three gorgeous, hilarious, God-fearing women who always had fascinating and interesting things going on in their lives. They were constantly being sung to in the cafeteria, picked up by military men, and overbooked for Valentine's Day. They were Stars. And there were times, I must admit, I consciously saw myself as "the friend" in each of their stories. Does this mean I will always be Best Friend? Well, sometimes I might say yes. But hopefully it's not forever.

I think being Leading Lady in your own life must entail knowing where you're going and what you're doing. Taking no prisoners. Saving the day. Being fabulous. Living with excitement. Taking control.

That, I think, is the key. You're in control of your own life and you are leading your life. You are the Leading Lady.

I'm still learning to be Leading Lady. I don't always know how to be her. But it's a process. And I'm excited to get there. Just don't make me smoke a cigarette.


~lady j said...

you should absolutely be the leading lady of your own life. :) especially now, with a brand new world of fun jobbiness in front of you and not a soul to block your spotlight? you have absolutely no excuse.

get after it, my dear. and tell me all abouts it. :) love you.

p.s. leading lady or not-- it sucks to have 3 valentines!!! :)

Annie Parsons said...

I SO resonate with this post! I have often been the "best friend" with whom the men laugh, but ultimately, they wind up with the leggy blonde. It feels patronizing. LAME, guys, LAME.

I think of Judy Greer as the ultimate "best friend" turned "leading lady." Don't know who she is? Just google her, and you'll realize that she's in a bajillion chick flicks, and always plays the blubbering, goofy sidekick. But now, she has her own TV show. And I think she's adorable. :)

I have a feeling you're a star, Valerie. Do it, girl.

*DC* said...

Valerie Mae, you are the kind of fun, witty, gorgeous girl who makes headlines, wins hearts and steals the screen.

You getcha some, girl. We're right behind you, ready to take our turn at the "best friend."

Love you, babe. It's all happening.

Ginger said...

1 Corinthians 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard…” AMEN!

Katie said...

It is all happening. And you are a leading lady, Val. One of the leading ladies in MANY of my memories of ACU. You're confident, smart, funny, kindhearted and fabulous. And I love you and miss you A LOT.