Gretchen Rubin

Is Actor Anna Kendrick an Upholder? After Reading Her Memoir, I Think So.

Is Actor Anna Kendrick an Upholder? After Reading Her Memoir, I Think So.

I asked listeners of the "Happier" podcast whether they had any good suggestions for celebrity sightings of the Four Tendencies.

Journalists always want this! They request lists of celebrities and their Tendencies. But this is a challenge to create, because we can't judge someone's Tendency from the outside; we have to know how they think.

Sometimes, however, it's possible to identify a famous person's Tendency, because they've written memoirs, they've done extensive interviews, or the people around them have discussed patterns in their behavior and thinking to such a degree that it's possible to have insight. For instance, after a lot of research, I concluded that Steve Jobs was a QUESTIONER/Rebel.

A thoughtful listener had just read Anna Kendrick's memoir Scrappy Little Nobody, and she wondered if Kendrick might be an Upholder.

So last week I read the book.

And yep, I agree, I think Anna Kendrick is an Upholder.

If you don't know, Anna Kendrick is a well-known actor who has appeared in Twilight, Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods, Up in the Air, among other movies. She's been working in acting since she was a child, including on Broadway.

Why do I peg her as an Upholder? Based on her memoir...

She describes herself as a "people pleaser and rule follower." This suggests Obliger, and also Upholder. So that narrows things down. So is she an Upholder or Obliger?

From a very young age, she submitted to the discipline of acting and held herself to a very high standard of execution. She was supported by her parents, but not pushed by her parents (and their support was very basic, not sophisticated) while she was young, and at age 17, went out on her own.

She describes how, at age 12, in the cast of the Broadway show High Society, she hit a breaking point. She needed relief. She spoke to the management, and although she wanted an immediate break, they told her she needed to wait a week to take a night off. And she did. This shows an ability to recognize limits, and also not to be susceptible to Obliger-rebellion, which would be to "snap." (She shows no signs of Obliger-rebellion in her life, which is a big tip-off.)

She describes herself as a "square" and "straitlaced."

"I happen to love rules. I love having a plan...I thrive in structure, I drown in chaos. I love rules and I love following them. Unless that rule is stupid. And yes, I have felt qualified, no matter my age, to make that determination. Scrupulous people don't enjoy causing trouble, but they can be defiant as hell."

Hmmm...Questioner? No, I think this observation reflects the Upholder's ability to assert inner expectations, and also the fact that none of us, no matter what our Tendency, want to do something that's stupid or a waste of time.

"The only time I desperately wanted to be rebellious was in adolescence...I had to will myself to break rules when I could stomach it." I know this feeling from adolescence! Of using my iron discipline to force myself to break a rule.

Kendrick's memoir is a good reminder, too, that Upholders aren't necessarily prudish. Kendrick curses, talks about a lot of intimate subjects, does discuss breaking rules and conventions, but always within the context of her own inner expectations.

Of course, given that Kendrick is giving us the insight into her brain, it's possible that she's manipulated our view of her. So it's impossible to say definitively how she fits into the framework.

I'm starting to wonder if more Hollywood types are Upholders than we might assume. There's a lot of media spotlight on episodes of non-Upholder-type behavior, but when you think of the grinding persistence that's needed for success, I can imagine that being an Upholder might come in handy.

If you have any suggestions of celebrity Tendencies, send them my way! I'm planning to research Lawrence of Arabia, Johnny Depp, Amelia Earhart, and Einstein, among others.

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