As an actress called Jennifer Lawrence, I kept comparing our careers
Throughout my teen years I thoroughly enjoyed when songs would include lyrics with my first name in them.
‘Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got, I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block…’
‘Oh Jenny don’t be hasty…’
It would always bring laughter among friends and I enjoyed making a joke of it.
However sharing my full name with a famous person sort of took that to an extra level.
I trained as a professional dancer and musical theatre performer with big dreams of having a successful performing career. Not long after I graduated I realised that if I wanted this, I would likely have to change my name.
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It was 2011, my namesake had already starred in her first X Men movie and if you typed ‘Jennifer Lawrence’ into any search engine, you’d have to scroll for days until you’d find the little, unknown wannabe star that was me.
I switched my stage name up in an attempt to stand out. Overnight, I became Elodie Lawrence (I’m half French so I went with that to try and stand out).
But for the six years I ditched Jennifer, it never felt right. All my nicknames were associated with my actual name and I was used to being called lil Jen, Jenny, Jeno, JLow and JLaw (one that she also seems to have claimed).
I felt like, being the original Jennifer Lawrence, I shouldn’t have to change my name – especially since I had it first (I’m a year older).
As Elodie, I struggled my way through the performing industry, with audition knock-backs and nearly getting dream jobs. It wasn’t until later when one of my agents said I should use Jennifer Lawrence as it would catch people’s eye.
While I had some fantastic opportunities; like dancing with Darcey Bussell at the Olympic closing ceremony, featuring as a dancer in Avengers: Age of Ultron and touring China with Dora the Explorer live, the gap between each job was slightly soul-destroying.
Imagine having four job interviews a week, every week, with constant rejections – mostly based on how you look – and then getting within touching distance of your dream, only for it to be handed to someone else.
Meanwhile, I began to see the rise of Jennifer Lawrence. From Hunger Games, to award wins to TV interviews galore. She was becoming not only well-known, but a well-liked star, with her ‘quirky’ personality, love of pizza, and occasional falls at high profile events gaining her fans across the world.
I couldn’t help but feel a bit gutted that she had done so well. It threw my career into sharp relief and I felt like a failure.
I tried to make jokes about it but I couldn’t help but see her and think, ‘I will never be as good or successful as her’.
Fortunately, I’m not someone who wallows in their problems and I didn’t hold on to the negative feels for too long.
Instead, I tried to make the best out of an unusual situation.
I would laugh when people would ask whether I was the real Jennifer Lawrence when booking tables at restaurants, amused that they’d confused us in the first place.
I’m not American, I’m quite a lot shorter than her at 5ft 1in and I have dark hair, compared to the actress’ natural blonde.
My postman clearly could tell us apart after taking one look at me, as he handed over a parcel and said ‘I always wondered if it was the real Jennifer Lawrence who lived here…’
I remember thinking, ‘Trust me, she would not be living here, buddy. I mean, come on!’
Similarly when I turned up to vote one day, as I gave them my details, the polling booth operators said they had hoped that I would actually be the Silver Linings Playbook star. You have to giggle. I don’t think she has a reputation for being super passionate about UK politics!
Then there is the awkward silence that comes after my name flashes up on the big screen in my doctor’s waiting room. I almost feel as though I have to stand up and acknowledge the eyes glaring at me.
I’ve nearly said, ‘Yes, it’s me: Jennifer Lawrence’ multiple times, envisioning the applause that would clearly follow.
What is good is that my name always serves as an ice breaker when meeting new people. And at least she’s a nice celebrity to share a name with – I can imagine much worse!
Plus, I’ve found a way to stand out from my famous counterpart. I moved away from the arts in 2016 and started up a Pilates business, called JLaw Pilates, which allows me to pursue my passion while also using my performance training (my classes flow like a dance routine and I have been known to sing a bit while instructing).
Fortunately, although Jennifer Lawrence does Pilates every day – according to an interview she gave Harper’s Bazaar – she is yet to start teaching it and make me compete with her in that field too.
But who knows, maybe in years to come Jennifer Lawrence will be starring in the next big Netflix series alongside Jennifer Lawrence.
Watch this space!
You can find out more about JLaw Pilates here.
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