From Mean Girl to Dropout: How Amanda Seyfried Beat a Poisonous Hollywood Stereotype
The Dropout star opens up about the legacy of Mean Girls and why felt “grossed out” by certain fan encounters.
Amanda Seyfriend is opening up about the offensive stereotype that continues to haunt her to this date.
The 36-year-old actress, who skyrocketed into fame as Karen in Mean Girls, is a victim of her own success in many ways. Her breakout role was perhaps the funniest in the iconic teen comedy, which already boasted an impressive ensemble of comedians to begin with. Even still, she stood out. With her deadpan delivery and wide-eyed innocence, she immediately glided her way into the public consciousness and hasn’t looked back since.
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That said, if your first role is also your most well-known, it becomes exponentially more challenging to break out of the pathway and gain recognition for other work. Moreover, if that career-launching portrayal was based on a degrading — albeit well-executed — caricature, you’re in for a tough ride.
It’s exactly this issue that Amanda Seyfried has endured over the last 18 years, and she’s finally putting her foot down.
How Mean Girls Caught Amanda Seyfried in the “Pretty Blonde” Trap
In an interview with Marie Claire, the mom-of-two sheds light on how her world shifted in the wake of Mean Girls, as well as the measures she had to take to insulate herself from the invasive nature of fame.
Whereas many of her contemporaries decided to seize the moment and launch themselves into blockbuster status, Amanda wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle, and find peace amid the madness. “She’s remained out of the tabloids and put down roots not in Los Angeles, but in a tiny town in upstate New York, where she owns nearly 30 acres of land and a farm, complete with chickens and goats,” the profile notes.
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She’s deliberately taken roles in which she can shine but not outshine her veteran scene partners, where she can impress the audience but not draw the glaring eye of the media — each and every move has been calibrated to ensure she doesn’t spin out of control. “I’ve never been super famous. I’ve always been somewhat recognizable. It’s been the healthiest trajectory,” she said in the interview.
Mean Girls got me on the map, it really got my foot in the door. But getting pigeonholed was the thing you had to fight. Back in 2004, I had to be really careful to not just be “the pretty blonde.”Amanda Seyfried to Variety
However, as much as she’s tried to remain out of the spotlight, Amanda Seyfriend never managed to escape the Mean Girls craze. Unfortunately, in her case, it wasn’t just enthusiastic supporters who wanted to get a picture or a signature, but men who actively approached her to make inappropriate references.
“Mostly boys asking her if it was raining — her character, Karen, could predict the weather with her breasts,” read the profile. Amanda said she felt “grossed out” by this phenomenon as she’d only been 18 when the movie was released.
If these unhealthy fan interactions weren’t distressing enough, Amanda also had to deal with the “dumb blond” label. In an interview with Variety, she admitted having to fight typecasting from the jump, but some attempts were more successful than others.
“Back in 2004, I had to be really careful to not just be ‘the pretty blonde,’” she told the magazine, adding that every single audition in her first pilot season was based around “blonde girl friends.” Sometimes, she gave in and accepted the part, knowing it would ultimately be a boost to her trajectory.
What Has Amanda Seyfried Been Doing Since Mean Girls?
Today, Seyfried is an Oscar-nominated actress, who has established herself as empathetic and versatile on-screen, and capable enough to lead her television series.
Hulu’s The Dropout has earned accolades across the board, and Amanda’s performance as Elizabeth Holmes has been hailed as one of the most striking and brilliant of the year, a career-best from the actress. However, to achieve this level of acclaim, Amanda had to do a lot of work evaluating her acting methodology and becoming the kind of performer she wanted to be.
The show’s creator, Liz Merriweather, had high praise for Amanda’s casting, saying, “She’s just one of those few actresses that I’ve always known could do comedy and drama. She’d done a ton of work before we even got to the first rehearsals. She had that voice; she had those mannerisms.”
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Amanda also told Variety about the approach she’s been taking with respect to her filmography. “When I think of what I want out of my career, I want longevity, right?” she said. This involves doing “different things,” working with “different types” of people, and “different mediums.”
You don’t want to be known for just one kind of cliché; you want to expand your capabilities to the point people don’t know what they can expect out of you. Not every choice is going to be fulfilling, and some endeavors will have more success than others; however, it’s the changes that ultimately carve out your pathway and enable you to be your best self.
I think that people in the industry are also realizing that I can be cast as more than just versions of me. In the bigger picture, I want to prove that I can be trusted to play anybody. That’s what I think The Dropout is helping to carve out for me.Amanda Seyfried to Variety
It took Amanda a long time to be distinguished as the powerhouse actress she is, but it doesn’t negate the work she’d done prior to The Dropout. Every feature has revealed a new side to her, and she’s keen on “keeping people guessing.”
At the end of the day, she wants to do impactful, compelling, and exciting work. She wants to challenge herself and still keep everything fun and engaging. “My big fear would be having to go to work and dreading it. I haven’t had that experience yet. I’m really lucky,” she said.
What Amanda Seyfried Can Teach Us about Testing Ourselves
It’s the easiest thing in life to stick to the status quo and do what you’re expected to do. However, Amanda’s journey tells us about the value of growing and changing and challenging yourself to do things differently.
You might not always get the result you want, but you’ll be able to see a different version of your side, test your abilities, and explore what you’re truly capable of. Nobody wants to be a stereotype, so instead of submitting to everyone’s expectations, figure out what you truly want to do.