“Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.” At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In her autobiographical collection of essays Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations. Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).”
(Synopsis from the publisher)
Scrappy Little Nobody is in the vein of so many popular comedian/actor memoirs as of late, half genuine memoir, half testimony to the ready and easy wit of the celebrity in question. And when you choose to consume said memoir in the audiobook format, the latter is really the main takeaway from the book… not that I’m complaining. Anna Kendrick’s enthusiastic and self-aware narration of her own story really is what made this memoir sing, as you’re able to sink easily into her speech and it’s almost like she’s casually recounting these anecdotes to you over drinks one night which, obviously, is the best compliment I could give to this memoir.
“Maybe we all have imposter syndrome and perpetually feel like our real life is right around the corner”
I’ll admit – I didn’t know (or care to know) that much about Anna before picking up Scrappy Little Nobody to read. That isn’t to say I dislike her – quite the contrary, in fact – but I’ve only seen a handful of her film roles, and I haven’t actively sought out any of her others. All that being said, she’s someone who has immediately and instinctively endeared herself to me through her appearances on chat shows and her use of social media – I do love anyone who frequently kills it on Twitter, and Anna is one of those celebrities. Because of that, the large portion of the stories shared in this memoir were completely new to me and I think that’s for the best. I felt like I learned a hell of a lot about the person behind the Twitter account and the occasional perky and hilarious appearances on the likes of Late Late Show and the Graham Norton show here in the UK. A large portion of the book deals with Anna before she was “famous”, before she broke into Hollywood with some larger film roles, how she got a part in a production in New York when she was still a teenager and so her and her dad had to work around school and find a way for her to make it work because it’s what she was really passionate about doing. This section was the one most unfamiliar but interesting to me as it felt like an insight into a completely alien world of acting explained in the most down-to-earth way by a friend.
“Some bitter boys reading this might accuse me of “friend-zoning,” but I’d like to say that even if a girl has misinterpreted a situation that someone else thinks was obvious, she does not owe her male friends anything.”
The real joy in this book, however, was the occasionally too real commentary that Anna provided about her industry that could be easily extrapolated to society as whole, such as the struggles of being seen as “difficult” vs “nice” on-set (a frequent problem for actresses, but not actors) which is also inherent in most industries, with assertive women being viewed as “difficult to work with” if they put their foot down whilst their male counterparts would receive no such criticism for the exact same behaviour. She also pointed out something that I instinctively knew about the movie industry but hadn’t stopped to properly consider – the idea of those who can afford to buy fancy dresses and shoes being the only ones who get to wear them for free, borrowing from a designer because they’re famous, will be seen in them, and so bring in “free” advertising for the company. Anna points out the ridiculousness of this simply widely-accepted status quo in her industry, sharing an anecdote that when she went to her first proper premiere she had to buy designer shoes she couldn’t really afford to “prove” that she was famous enough to be wearing them on red carpets and so get designers to offer to dress her. The way she puts it makes it sound so blatantly ridiculous and confirmed my sneaking suspicion that despite how famous Anna Kendrick may be right now (or may ever come to be), she’s still able to see the bullshit in the world and readily point it out loudly, even if it’s not exactly ‘the done thing’ to do so.
“Ninety percent of the people I’ve worked with who are disruptive or lazy or unskilled or addicts or likely to throw a tantrum are men. Ninety percent of the ones who get called “difficult” are women.”
In conclusion, this book (especially when experienced on audio) is a delight. If you like Anna Kendrick’s mile-a-minute manner of talking and her sense of humour, then you’ll find this book highly entertaining and enjoyable; if you’re not a fan of hers to begin with, I can’t see you getting along with this book, simply because Anna is so Anna. And obviously that is the unique selling point of this book – you see how, despite any level of success Anna may have achieved, she is at heart still a bit of a weirdo, still a “scrappy little nobody”.
“It’s not that deep down I want someone to “take care of me,” it’s that I’m exhausted, and occasionally overwhelmed by self-doubt. I’m steering the ship, but I don’t know what I’m doing. None of us do. But it would be *so nice* to believe that someone out there did, and that maybe they could take the wheel for a little while.”