Jennifer Lawrence

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5 mins read

Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born August 15, 1990 and is an American actress.

She was born in Indian Hills, Kentucky, to Gary, a construction company owner, and Karen (née Koch), a summer camp manager. She has two older brothers, Ben and Blaine, and her mother brought her up to be “tough” like them. Karen did not allow her daughter to play with other girls in preschool as she deemed her “too rough” with them. Lawrence was educated at the Kammerer Middle School in Louisville. She did not enjoy her childhood due to hyperactivity and social anxiety and considered herself a misfit among her peers. Lawrence has said that her anxieties vanished when she performed on stage and that acting gave her a sense of accomplishment. 

Lawrence’s school activities included cheerleading, softball, field hockey and basketball, which she played on a boys’ team that was coached by her father. While growing up, she was fond of horseback riding and frequently visited a local horse farm. She has an injured tailbone as a result of being thrown from a horse. When her father worked from home, she performed for him, often dressing up as a clown or ballerina. She had her first acting assignment at age nine when she played the role of a prostitute in a church play that was based on the Book of Jonah. For the next few years, she continued to take parts in church plays and school musicals. 

Lawrence was fourteen and on a family vacation in New York City when she was spotted on the street by a talent scout who arranged for her to audition for talent agents. Karen was not keen on allowing her daughter to pursue an acting career, but she briefly moved her family to New York to let her read for roles. After Lawrence’s first cold reading, the agents said that hers was the best they had heard from someone that young; Lawrence’s mother convinced her that they were lying. Lawrence said her early experiences were difficult because she felt lonely and friendless. She signed with CESD Talent Agency, who convinced her parents to let her audition for roles in Los Angeles. While her mother encouraged her to go into modeling, Lawrence insisted on pursuing acting. At that time, she considered acting to be a natural fit for her abilities, and she turned down several offers for modeling assignments. Lawrence dropped out of school at age 14 without receiving a GED or a diploma. She has said that she was “self-educated” and that her career was her priority. Between her acting jobs in the city, she made regular visits to Louisville, where she served as an assistant nurse at her mother’s camp.

Lawrence then moved to Los Angeles and began her acting career by playing guest roles in television shows. Her first major role came as a main cast member on the sitcom The Bill Engvall Show (2007–2009). Lawrence made her film debut in a supporting role in the drama Garden Party (2008), and had her breakthrough playing a poverty-stricken teenager in the independent drama Winter’s Bone (2010). Her career progressed with her starring roles as the mutant Mystique in the X-Men film series (2011–2019) and Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games film series (2012–2015). The latter established her as the highest-grossing action heroine of all time.

Lawrence was paid $20 million for playing Aurora Lane in the science fiction film Passengers (2016), and she received top-billing over co-star Chris Pratt. Darren Aronofsky’s psychological horror film Mother! was Lawrence’s sole release of 2017. 

The following year, Lawrence starred as Dominika Egorova, a Russian spy who makes contact with a mysterious CIA agent (played by Joel Edgerton), in Francis Lawrence’s espionage thriller Red Sparrow, based on Jason Matthews’ novel of the same name. She learned to speak in a Russian accent and undertook ballet training for four months. Lawrence was challenged by the sexuality in her role, but has said that performing the nude scenes made her feel empowered. A year later, Lawrence made her fourth and final appearance as Mystique, in Dark Phoenix

Lawrence is a supporter of Planned Parenthood, and participated in a June 2017 video against the defunding of the organization. She spoke out against the November 2015 shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. She is a feminist, a concept she argues should not intimidate people “because it just means equality”. Lawrence promotes body positivity among women. In 2015, she wrote an essay for the Lenny Letter in which she criticized the gender pay gap in Hollywood. She wrote about her own experiences in the industry, such as the lesser salary she received for her work in American Hustle compared to her male co-stars. In a 2015 interview with Vogue, Lawrence criticized Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for her opposition to same-sex marriage. Lawrence was “raised a Republican”, but has subsequently criticized the party’s stance on women’s rights. She has strongly opposed Donald Trump’s presidency, stating in 2015 that his election would “be the end of the world”. 

Lawrence became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2011. She has lent her support to several charitable organizations, such as the World Food Programme, Feeding America, and the Thirst Project. Along with Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, her co-stars of The Hunger Games (2012), Lawrence partnered with the United Nations to publicize poverty and hunger. She organized an early screening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) to benefit Saint Mary’s Center, a disabilities organization in Louisville, and raised more than $40,000 for the cause. She partnered with the charity broadcast network Chideo to raise funds for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games by screening her film Serena (2014). She also collaborated with Omaze to host a fundraising contest for the games as part of the premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014). 

In 2015, Lawrence teamed with Hutcherson and Hemsworth for Prank It FWD, a charitable initiative to raise money for the non-profit organization Do Something. That year, she also launched the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation, which supports charities such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Special Olympics. In 2016, she donated $2 million to the Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville to set up a cardiac intensive care unit named after her foundation. Lawrence is a board member of Represent.Us, a nonprofit seeking to pass anti-corruption laws in the United States. In 2018, she collaborated with 300 women in Hollywood to set up the Time’s Up initiative to protect women from harassment and discrimination. She participated in the 2018 Women’s March in Los Angeles to affirm her commitment to women’s rights. Also that year, Lawrence announced her commitment to get young Americans politically engaged and to advocate for anti-corruption laws. In 2018, Lawrence founded a production company called Excellent Cadaver. 

During her career, Lawrence has played roles in both high-profile, mainstream productions and low-budget independent films, and has appeared in a range of film genres. She did not study acting and has not been involved in professional theater. She instead bases her acting approach on her observations of people around her.

The actress told The Globe and Mail in a June 2010 interview that she does not invest in any of her real emotions or take home any pains of her characters. She relies instead on her imagination, noting that she can’t go around looking for roles that are exactly like her life, stating that if it ever came down to the point where, to make a part better, she had to lose a little bit of her sanity, she wouldn’t do it. She would just do comedies.