My sister and I are nothing alike.
She was born a social butterfly and I’d cry if humans even came near me. Over two decades (nearing three for her!) later, not much has changed.
Once we were watching a movie, I don’t exactly remember when this was or what movie it was, that had Sandra Bullock starring in it. We were both gushing over the woman, about just how bare and beautiful she always seemed.
“Everyone tells me that I’m like her,” said my sister.
“Why?” I asked.
I can’t really remember the reason she gave me. Because I was offended that she claimed that my favourite actress was exactly like her. I’m possessive about things that way.
I don’t particularly believe myself to be anything like the characters Sandra — I’m just gonna call her that — plays but the lack of finesse and that absolute brash quality of hers appeals to me a great deal. She never seems larger than life, or perfect, but she’s the heroine. I’ve always liked that idea, in fact, I am quite certain that most of her fans love her for this exact quality that the characters she plays possess.
I was in my final year of college when I got an opportunity to showcase my admiration for her. It came dressed as a Media Studies project. We had to pick any celebrity (I think it may have only been actors) who we wanted and make a presentation about them.
I know, such fun! Except when you need to make a presentation for school, nothing is ever fun, not even speaking about your favourite actress or doing a serious research about Manga culture (I can tell you, I’ve been there).
So on the day of the presentation, a few hours prior, I was sitting crouched in fear, leaning against the wall for support. My two best friends who were sitting beside me looked at me a little confused.
“Why are you shitting bricks? Just do it, we’ve done this a hundred times before,” one of them said. The quizzical expression on the other one’s face ascertained his agreement.
“But guys, I’m speaking about Sandra Bullock, what if I don’t do her justice?” I asked.
“You are presenting to -insert unimpressive professor’s name-,” said the other friend. “Does it really matter?”
“YES!” I shrieked, “It’s SANDRA BULLOCK. She deserves the best!”
They looked at me like I’d gone a little bonkers. I think they even laughed at me, I am sure they did actually. But it didn’t matter as long as Sandra got the presentation she deserved.
It went alright, I spoke passionately about why I chose her, how her characters resonated with me, and how her slightly unconventional beauty always played second fiddle to the quirky, bold, and unapologetic roles she played. My professors were not very impressed, maybe they were looking for a little more about acting method or some sort of mind blowing Media Studies-related depth into the actors and actresses we picked. I got a B.
I often think back to that day, to that project, and I never feel happy about it. I got to speak about a woman I have grown up admiring and I brought her back a B. Sandra is an A+ actress, and she deserved better.
I mean the sheer amount of times I’ve watched Two Weeks Notice alone should have given me a higher grade by default. I have forever sworn by Big Yellow Taxi, and marveled at how changing a few words from the Joni Mitchell original made it a song that now not only was about environmental preservation, but of love! Every single time the song plays, and it doesn’t matter if I am in a car, or a pub, or in the middle of the road, I have three beautiful minutes of moving away from reality to reality. The time I really fell for Chandler Bing was in season 10 when we discovered that he loved Miss Congeniality. I have observed Sandra’s chiseled face and poker straight ebony locks and the lilt in her always-a-wee-bit-annoyed voice enough for me to sketch her by memory alone, if I could sketch. And yet, it wasn’t enough.
It’s one of the things I have had to learn the hard way. We are often unable to do justice to the things that really matter to us, the people who really matter to us. We could spend hours or years wondering why, God knows I did. I wondered why I could only bring back a B for someone who has artistically made such an impact in my life. But all I can hope is that would she ever hear of this, she would know that her work is more important to me than what I was able to somehow show.
After all, she may be one of the only things my sister and I ever had in common.