“It’s cute how I used to think this ‘barely-holding-it-together’ feeling was temporary,” tweets Anna Kendrick.
This refreshing candor is what the world has fallen for; Anna’s confessions are offered up on rotation through her Twitter feed where 5.81 million fans eagerly await her mash-up of dry wit and self-deprecation. Describing herself as “pale, awkward and very, very small”, the diminutive 31 year-old, who is openly comfortable with who she is, has a knack for pinpointing exactly what multitudes of us, who are pretending to the world that yes, we totally have this life thing down pat, are actually thinking.
To wit: “Sometimes the only reason I leave my house is so when someone asks about my day I don’t have to say ‘Netflix and avoiding responsibilities’.”
And this: “I like to think of myself less like ‘an adult’ and more like a ‘former fetus’.”
“Instagram is the place I go to be like, ‘I’m so fabulous and wonderful’ and Twitter’s like ‘I’m a mess, I’m really sorry can we all go have a drink and talk about it?’” she jokes about a week after our interview.
Anna has been lauded as everything from the funniest person on Twitter to a modern marketing superstar, not forgetting Fast Company’s decision to name her one of 2014’s most creative people in the world. (She came in at number eight, right after the US Secretary of Transportation.) And with her latest endeavour, a book of funny essays released this month, Anna proves that success can come from, and not just be in spite of, saying what you really think.
I’m so humble it’s crazy. I’m like the Kanye West of humility.
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) November 4, 2014
For the release of the Pitch Perfect 2 promo poster, the cast were captured striking a sultry pose. But not Anna, who, true to character, stood fiercely in the middle, arms crossed with a scowl on her face.
“They were sweating because I wouldn’t strike a sexy pose,” she posted at the time, causing a social media frenzy. Tagged with #BossPitch, shots soon came pouring in from fans – women, men, and even parents and their kids – standing in solidarity, striking the same pose. Reposted by Anna, the shots quickly clocked up nearly a million likes and were soon making headlines everywhere from BuzzFeed to the US’ Today show.
As we chat, the jokes come rapid-fire and you could be fooled into thinking that Anna tweets just as quickly as she quips. But, for the most part, she’s careful to draft tweets days in advance.
“If I look at it again a couple of days later and it makes me laugh then I think it’s good,” she says.
“And sometimes I’ll look at it two days later and be like ‘what the f**k was I talking about?’”
To colleagues on any of her sets, this should really come as no surprise. The film dilettante, who was nominated for an Oscar for Up in the Air, spends a lot of time on Reddit, reading, and occasionally correcting, the movie subreddit.
There were hundreds that espoused her geeky habit when, in 2011, Anna spent a wasteful afternoon on Reddit learning the routine for ‘Cups (When I’m Gone)’. She mastered the routine so well it found its way into Pitch Perfect and was released as a single, spending 32 weeks on the charts and reaching number six on Billboard’s Hot 100; the YouTube video was watched over 300 million times.
As much as the flick was a launchpad for Anna’s music and co-star Rebel Wilson’s film career, the movie was actually a product of, rather than the catalyst for, the revival of collegiate a cappella.
But for Anna, whose first love was acting, trying out for community theatre at just age six. Always small for her age (even now she’s just five foot two), she loved that performing allowed her to feel large and to escape schoolyard teasing.
The scent wafting out of Abercrombie stores is a fucking day ruiner. How did they manage to bottle the smell of high school and rejection?
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) April 15, 2014
Far from stage parents, her mum was an accountant and her dad a history teacher who later moved into finance. But they were supportive of Anna, regularly driving her the six hours it took to get from their home in Portland, Maine, to New York for auditions. On the odd occasion they couldn’t make it, Anna’s brother would accompany her for the Greyhound bus trip.
By 1998, at 12 years of age, Anna scored her first role, in the Broadway musical High Society, earning her a nomination for a Tony Award, the third-youngest nominee ever.
“I’d rather be on a film set than anywhere else,” she says. “I like being collaborative, whether it’s creatively or just logistically. I like problem solving and there’s always a problem on film sets. It’s like trying to run a zoo in like the middle of the woods and you’ve never been there before.
“It’s nice to be proactive; helping and trying to just figure out how to help everybody. It’s just nice to be on a team that has the same goal.”
My daily objective is less about goal achievement and more about regret management. #AimLow
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) May 14, 2015
While Anna’s on-screen performances have been going right for many years, her career hasn’t been without struggles. First moving to California in her late teens, she and her housemate struggled to pay the rent, having their electricity cut off and almost being evicted. It wasn’t until after Pitch Perfect that Anna finally threw away the black pants and white buttoned down shirt of her catering uniform that she’d been holding onto, just in case it all didn’t work out.
From her tweets about her awkward inner-dialogue to the totally relatable shots of her eating In-N-Out burgers (after the Oscars ceremony), Anna is pretty casual about what she shares. Though how she shares is a little more regulated. She keeps symbols to a minimum (so it doesn’t feel like you’re deciphering a code), never posts more than two Instagram photos a day (though she broke this rule when #BossPitch took off) and tries not to post when intoxicated or too late at night (also broken semi-regularly – that’s what rules are for, right?).
But in an age of collaborations, projects and posts-for-sale, Anna is strict on one thing: her posts have to be genuine, so she creates a couple of silly or funny posts for every self-promotional one.
And working on advertisements with Newcastle Brown Ale and Kate Spade New York, and launching Burt’s Bees Hive with Heart campaign (which helped provide beauty services for seriously ill patients) in the past, she has enough to promote.
As always Anna, reassuringly and self-deprecatingly, tells it like it is.
“People will send me reminders if I’m supposed to do stuff, you know… like this phone call. I’ll get a reminder because I am an idiot. Let’s be clear, it’s not that I don’t have an assistant because I’m all over it and across it, I’m an idiot. I’m just hanging by a thread. I’m on the phone with you, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now, a handyman is coming over in half an hour to fix my sink. I’m getting it done. Barely. But I’m getting it done.”
Is it bad if your best friend sees you wearing pants without a drawstring waist and asks “What’s the occasion?”
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) March 31, 2016