The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Something nudged me after Louisville’s Jennifer Lawrence accepted her Oscar for best actress last night: watching a Kentucky native walk off with a major acting award was not an exotic thing to see. And no, I am not going back to George Clooney’s 2006 best supporting actor win for Syriana.
I’m just going back to last June, when Ashland’s Steve Kazee took home the Tony Award for best actor in a musical for Once.
The question I had to answer for myself before I went to bed this morning was, has any other state, aside from the usual suspects of New York and California, produced two major acting award winners in the past year? We’re talking Emmy, Tony, Oscar — I tried to find a comparable Grammy category and could not.
The answer was no, even drilling down to supporting player awards, and not even California. Now if you want to win a major acting award, being born in New York is a really good idea — particularly Manhattan. But after that, at least in 2012-13, having an old Kentucky home seemed to be as helpful as anything.
Of course, we have long known there is talent in the Bluegrass State, from the music of Loretta Lynn to the performances of the late Patricia Neal.
But what I really like about these two wins is Lawrence and Kazee probably wouldn’t have been the two performers you’d expect to create a one-two hit for Kentucky just a few years ago. Before breaking out in Winter’s Bone, then teenage Lawrence was relatively unknown. And Kazee had the chops but was struggling to find that breakout Broadway role.
It’s a nice message to send to aspiring performers across the Commonwealth: As much as we are subject to stereotypes and self-loathing, there is a rich culture here. And it is entirely possible to come from Kentucky and reach the pinnacles of artistic success, even without a last name like Judd or Clooney. Just watch the big award ceremonies.
Before taking a holiday break, Saturday Night Live announced that Louisville native and white-hot movie star Jennifer Lawrence will host the show’s first edition of 2013 on Jan. 19. The musical guest will be Denver-based folk rockers The Lumineers.
Lawrence was catapulted to A-List status in the past year with her starring role as Katniss Everdeen in the post-apocalyptic blockbuster The Hunger Games. She has since gained rave reviews and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for her performance in the quirky comedy Silver Linings Playbook. She is considered a strong contender for an Oscar nomination for the same role. It would be the second Oscar nomination for Lawrence, 22, who was nominated for best actress in 2011 for her performance in Winter’s Bone (2010).
Silver Linings Playbook is about an odd relationship that forms between Lawrence’s character, Tiffany, and Bradley Cooper as Pat, who is undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder as the movie opens. The film has not opened yet in Lexington but is playing in Louisville and Cincinnati.
Jan. 19 will be Lawrence’s first turn hosting Saturday Night Live.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich