Arts Issue: Hollywood ‘It Girls’ win audiences over with charm

courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

With her subtle femininity, sheer beauty and sincere persona, the “It Girl” — any up-and-coming performer who charms her way to fame — is idolized by Hollywood and its adoring audience. This archetype has evolved from a periodical phrase to a legitimate distinction in the entertainment industry.

Those who hold the “It Girl” title earn this renown in a number of ways. For one, these women have undeniable talent. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, this year’s celebrity icon, did not win over the hearts of millions by simply parading her evident elegance around.

Nyong’o’s raw and honest portrayal of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” left audiences in awe of her ability to evoke vulnerability on screen. This talent allowed the world to recognize her humble and inspiring perspective on acting when she accepted numerous awards for her performance. Though she has only a few roles to her name, she will likely continue to captivate filmgoers with her pronounced passion for the craft.

Other “It Girls” from years past have earned the honorific thanks to a well-received public persona. Jennifer Lawrence, an actress with acting ability comparable to Nyong’o’s, is prominently recalled for her relatable and endearing personality.


Whether detailing her love of junk food and laziness or advocating for body acceptance, Lawrence is identifiable because she understands the issues her fans face. This approachability makes her seem less like a high-profile celebrity and more like a peer. In an industry dominated by superficiality, Lawrence and others like her are praised for their charisma and rejection of insincere motivations.

Boasting the flattering “It Girl” name seems like it would be a road to perpetual stardom. But despite the glowing status of the label, it can also yield petty predicaments.

Just this year, Nyong’o and Lawrence were set against each other in the media because of their similarities in both aptitude and popularity. Nyong’o, being the newer actress of the two, received more support from fans, as Lawrence was ousted from her “It Girl” position because of the assumption that she was jealous of her counterpart’s fame.

It is sometimes difficult to conceptualize a celebrity as being an actual person, but those dubbed “It Girls” can create an avenue where that divide seems less daunting — their magnetic allure only enhances a wonderful presence. Viewers invariably connect to these performers in one way or another, rendering their place in many hearts timeless.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 10 print edition. Ife Olujobi is film editor. Email her at [email protected]



  1. I can’t help but wonder if this article is yet another directive from Lupita Nyong’o’s PR team…I mean come on! (LOL!) it’s rather obvious by now that Nyong’o’s team is obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence.

    In every single article written about Nyong’o Jennifer Lawrence is mentioned and/or compared and it’s obvious and laughable. Jennifer Lawrence is a three time Oscar nominee, a BEST ACTRESS WINNER, extremely well liked and, oh yeah her films have contributed 2.5 BILLION to the Box Office. Nyong’o isn’t even remotely close to that…Nyong’o is NOT at Jennifer Lawrence’s level. Nyong’o’s team (and Nyong’o herself) are aware of this and have been doing everything possible to make it seem as if she is more accomplished than she really is, including trying desperately hard to wage a very nasty campaign against Jennifer Lawrence….it hasn’t worked, folks.

    In short, Nyong’o and her team want what Jennifer Lawrence has and, that’s fine because everyone should have the opportunity to succeed as Jennifer Lawrence has but the way in which Nyong’o’s team is going about it is obnoxious and well, ill advised. Nyong’o should take a page out of Shailene Woodley’s book and not sign off on her PR team setting up a competition with Lawrence. Woodley made it clear that she will not turn against Lawrence but rather, they should support each other.

    Oh, and let’s clear a few things up…Nyong’o was in ONE film…ONE FILM. A good performance in ONE BIG FILM. A supporting performance that was good but not spectacular…Chewitel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Sara Paulson and Michael Fassbender acted circles around Nyong’o. Nyong’o has quite a PR team, that’s it and that’s all. Now, can Nyong’o do comedy?…action adventure?…contemporary drama…and LOSE the accent?.
    How in the name of all that’s holy can you be so certain that she’s such a fantastic actress when you’ve only seen her in ONE FILM?. Now, I actually laughed out loud at the notion that Nyong’o ousted Jennifer Lawrence as the “IT GIRL” or even remotely in any kind of way for that matter), that Lawrence fans supported Nyong’o more than Lawrence (nope, that was Nyong’o’s PR team hitting twitter, tumblr, etc., and everyone knows it, and last but certainly not least that Jennifer Lawrence was…jealous of Nyong’o (LOL!) I hope Nyong’o’s team paid you in cash not check for this article because the very notion is hilarious. Nyong’o’s team really wants Nyong’o to have what Jennifer Lawrence has, that’s all there is to it and they send out her PR team to write articles like this to give Nyong’o more credibility.

    Nyong’o’s team keeps trying to push the bizzare notion that Nyong’o is in Jennifer Lawrence’s league..she is definetly not which is why articles like this continue to be written at the behest of Nyong’o’s PR team. Especially when you consider that Nyong’o has a resume that you could fit into a fortune cookie. Nyong’o has not proven herself…yet. Now, compare that to Jennifer Lawrence…a working actress since she was fifteen, starting on television, receiving critical praise from her first film up to and including now. So, enough…let Nyong’o continue to build her career and prove herself and perhaps then she will be able to compare herself to an actress like Jennifer Lawrence.


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