Kristen Stewart: “Constantly anxious”
It’s hard to think of stars as having it tough. They get everything they want. They’re rich. They’re famous. Fans stand in long times for a few seconds with them, or for them to scrawl their name on a piece of paper.
One of the themes of Entertaining Welsey Shaw is how things aren’t what they seem when it coms to people in the spotlight. Another is how stressful the lives of those who “have it all” can be.
Kristen Stewart—I refuse to call her “KStew”—has recently told a well-known magazine that for the majority of her fame, she has felt anxious, isolated, frightened.
In other words, the 25-year-old thespian has felt exactly like Welsey Anne Shaw.
“Between ages 15 and 20, it was really intense. I was constantly anxious. I was kind of a control freak. If I didn’t know how something was going to turn out, I would make myself ill, or just be locked up or inhibited in a way that was really debilitating.”
Interestingly, as with my heroine, a large part of the stress was the dichotomy between what she was and what she told she “should be,” at least to fans.
“I believe the words are, ‘accessible,’ ‘easy’ and uncomplicated,” she said. That’s how we rate our celebrities—another theme in Entertaining Welsey Shaw—is by how “accessible” they are. (How accessible was Katharine Hepburn, after all? How about Greta Garbo or Marilyn Monroe?)
It didn’t get easier when she got a bit older. She describes her early 20s as a “really traumatic” period that “kick-started” something in her that made her more “feral.” She was unable to trust people, and became wary of almost everybody. Many celebrities describe exactly this same experience. They all know you; you don’t know them, and don’t know who your friends are. It’s no wonder so many of them are rude, brusk, even paranoid. This is often mistaken for arrogant, entitled, haughty.
There seems to be an unwritten rule that these most extraordinary and rarified of people must be the most common folks in the room. From Shailene Woodley talking about how she took a retail job in New York between early acting gigs to Keira Knightly assuring us she lives on a modest budget despite being rich to Anna Kendrick posting self-deprecating tweets all over Twitter, stars are constantly pressured, after they make it big in the most extraordinary of careers, into assuring us they’re really not any different than they were before, and honestly, not all that terrific.
Stewart says she used her long, tousled hair as a crutch to hide from the glare of fame. She says her life changed when she cut her hair. She could no longer hide behind it. She had to reveal herself. Similar my protagonist Daniel Ferreira often comments on Welsey hiding behind her “curtain of hair.”
She says she’s better now—more confident, smarter, uncaring of what people think—but of course some of the anxiety remains.
When you live your life largely in public, it never really goes away. Just ask Welsey Shaw.
Read more of Kristen Stewart’s interview here.