What was the precise moment you fell in love with today’s birthday girl Jennifer Lawrence?
Was it during one of her performances in serious films such as Winter’s Bone and Silver Linings Playbook, or one of the massive franchises like The Hunger Games? Was it when she poked fun of herself at the Oscars after tripping on the stairs to the stage or gave a piggyback ride to comedian Aziz Ansari? Was it when she called out Hollywood for inequality in pay between male and female actors in a scathing post on Lenny Letter? Was it every time she clapped back against body image issues in Hollywood, body shamers, and diets in general? Or was it during the laugh-out-loud hilarious interview she conducted with Kim Kardashian?
Whatever your JLaw moment was, it’s safe to say we’ve all fallen in love with the down-to-earth, goofy actress. Although she is now one of the world’s most famous faces, Lawrence came from humble beginnings. Born in the small town of Indian Hills, Kentucky to a father who worked in construction and a mother who managed a nearby summer camp, she grew up a self-described “misfit”. Social anxiety and hyperactivity contributed to her being an outcast among her peers, but she quickly discovered that acting on stage and performing in front of others made her anxiety disappear.
While it may seem obvious to us that this trait meant she was destined for stardom, Lawrence herself has also admitted that she always felt like she was going to become famous some day, even at a young age. “I used to lie in bed and wonder, ‘Am I going to be a local TV person? Am I going to be a motivational speaker?’ It wasn’t a vision. But as it’s kind of happening, you have this buried understanding: of course.”
Considering Lawrence was discovered on the streets of New York City by a talent scout at the age of 14, Hollywood has often lionized her big break. By 15, she had left school for a career in acting (her mother continued to homeschool her) and landed a minor role on The Bill Engvall Show. It was during this time that she scored her first lead role: playing a troubled teen growing up in Iowa in the 1970s in The Poker House, for which she won Best Performance at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2008.
Although many of the films in her illustrious career are of the intensely serious stripe – The Burning Plain, Mother!, Joy – the actress is an effervescently funny person in real life. Everyone who works with Lawrence or interviews her remembers her incredible sense of humor, ability to throw you off balance with a well-timed prank, quick wit, notorious long-form rants, and love of pizza.
Despite how famous she is, Lawrence is the type of person to maintain her longstanding friendship with a young man with Down’s Syndrome, whom she’s known since middle school. In an interview for The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah Winfrey revealed the kind of person Lawrence is, saying, “What resonates with me is that when you are talking to her, what you’re seeing is the real thing. You’re not seeing any pretense. She’s asking all the right questions: How can I be used? How can I use this moment for something bigger than myself?”
Lawrence’s intent on using her star power for good eclipses that of many of her famous peers. First, she is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, like equal pay in Hollywood. She is also on the board of directors for Represent.Us, a non-profit organization that “bring[s] together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass powerful anti-corruption laws that stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections”.
She has also worked with the United Nations World Food Program and launched a foundation that focuses on issues facing youth and raises money for programs like Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kids Cancer Alliance, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Furthermore, she donated $2 million to the Norton Children’s Hospital in her hometown to create an ICU unit dedicated to children recovering from cardiac surgery and launched the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund, which has funded arts education in Louisville, Kentucky to the tune of $1 million (so far).
While Lawrence is an Oscar-winning actress and a passionate force for good in the world, she also happens to be a statuesque beauty and modern style icon. While she has famously joked that she doesn’t know what “haute” means, Lawrence is an eye-catching figure on the red carpet, often spotted in Dior, for which she acts as a brand ambassador. With style, grace, humor, wit, and heart, Lawrence wins us over again and again. Rounding out our appreciation for Lawrence on her 30th birthday, today, is a gallery of some of her most stylish red-carpet moments, below.