A blog post about three actresses called Jennifer may seem like a departure, but bear with me and I think you’ll see where I’m heading. Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston seem to be everywhere—even for those of us unable to name their recent movies without a search engine. I’m not a particular fan of any of these Jennifers, but I also have nothing against them. They personify the current crop of actor/personalities, so they are a great starting point for this post.
Successful actors can, and often do, become “cottage industries” based on the persona they project to the public. As a creator of characters in fiction, I’m interested in how these public personalities are developed, exploited and maintained. Do we want to wear the clothing line of Jennifer Lopez? Do we trust Jennifer Garner when she promotes a credit card? And do we think our skin will be as smooth & clear as Jennifer Aniston’s when we see her in skin care TV commercials?
Each of these actresses has cultivated a kind of credibility that survives outside of their acting careers and real personal lives. The personae they created persist through successful movies & bombs, marriages & divorces, rumors & scandals, and even candid photographs taken without the aid of make-up artists, stylists & perfect lighting. Actors doing commercials is nothing new, nor is it new for an actor to lend (or more precisely sell) their name to a fashionable product. Remember Elizabeth Taylor and White Diamond Perfume?
Still, the three Jens are perfect examples of upbeat, down-to-earth, confident sales people, speaking in their own voices and talking about products and projects (new films, TV shows, music, etc.), with consistency of character. And yet, I’m certain that I’m not alone in thinking that the public personae are not the same as the private. They are actors, after all, and they are acting in commercials and in TV interviews, just as they are acting in movies.
I’m wondering about the stamina, devotion, and sheer focus that it must take to maintain that kind of character. It’s funny because I am most attracted to more elusive actors—the actors that seem most comfortable in scripted drama and less polished in real life encounters.
As a creator of fictional characters, I’m fascinated by the three Jens and their creations—are they real? Are they more real than fiction?