Why you need to be the leading lady
The holiday season is upon us, which means the classic romcom The Holiday will be playing on TBS on a continuous loop. It played twice already yesterday so I am estimating it has the potential to play about 100 times over the next 30 days.
The Holiday, though it has a stunning cast including Academy Award winner Kate Winslet and was directed by Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, Father of the Bride), never got great reviews. Mostly because it follows the cliché of so many romcoms (Cameron Diaz’s character not being able to cry until she met the right man), but there is actually a very important lesson from this film that can apply to so many aspects of our lives. And no, it is not how to fit seven gorgeous coats into one suitcase as Diaz’s character Amanda did. The greatest line in the film, delivered perfectly by Eli Wallach, is “Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.” Watch the scene below:
I think sometimes it is easier for us to hold back and take the sidekick role. Frankly, the sidekick role is a whole lot less work (sometimes they are only in like half the movie) and less bad stuff tends to happen to them. We don’t ever seem to worry about whether the sidekick gets the job or the guy. Plus, let’s face it. They get some of the best lines in the movie. A prime example: Joan Cusack as Working Girl Melanie Griffith’s bestie. “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will.” True words of wisdom.
We don’t care as much about the sidekick. We are there for the leading lady. We want to see what happens to her. But it is tough to be in that role. It is more attention on you and more responsibility. You have to be the one in control. You are deciding your story. And sometimes that means doing the harder thing. But unlike in films, when we make some sort of major life transition we don’t get a kicky musical montage to accompany us.
However, you have to be the star of your own film and step into the spotlight. Don’t take the sidekick role. You deserve better. Just as Kate Winslet’s Iris did, find your gumption and go forward!
By: Meredith Lepore
Meredith Lepore is the former editor of the women’s career site, The Grindstone. She is a contributing writer at Your Coffee Break and Levo League, where a version of this article first appeared.