Monday, February 6, 2012

Inspirational Icon Monday: Jean Seberg

Breathlessly cute. With her chic pixie cut, eye-catching bone structure and mischievously spirted personality, Jean Seberg became the most famous face of the French New Wave cinema. Her road to becoming a French movie star was an unexpected one-she wasn't even French. An American born in Iowa, Seberg and her audacious readiness was willing to change her game. Sometimes that's just what it takes.

When a neighbor entered her into a talent search contest for the next Joan of Arc for the 1957 film Saint Joan, she won $150,000 but was panned by critics. Her director gave her another chance by giving her a role in his next film, but that performance also received horrendous reviews. When her reviews from her third film attempt didn't come back at all favorable, Seberg decided to pursue the experimental film going on in France. This lead her to Jean-Luc Godard and a starring role in Breathless. Not only did this film become an international success and go down in history as the best French New Wave film of the sixties, but Seberg was hailed as the best actress in Europe during this era.

Her triumph in French cinema and the life she made in France--married first to French director Fran├žois Moreuil and then to French novelist Romain Gary didn't stop the U.S from damaging her reputation from overseas. Her support of the Black Panther Party and the NAACP(The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)caused the FBI to fabricate a story for Newsweek that said the seven months pregnant Seberg had an affair with Clint Eastwood while filming Paint Your Wagaon, had an affair with a college student, and her unborn daughter was not fathered by her husband but by a Black Panther. Certain FBI agents admitted to planting the story to defame the actress after Nixon's resignation, but the damage had already been done. Seberg committed suicide in 1979 and her former husband Romain Gary took his life 15 months later.

Her life ended in heartbreaking tragedy, but her tenacity is encouraging. She didn't allow American film critics to keep her from pursuing her dream. She recognized what was not working and made a change. She went where she could flourish. So often people continue to hammer away in the same location, in the same way and with the same tools. Without attacking a different angle, nothing can change. Seberg knew this and dived into a new route that opened her up to an entirely new world. 

                                   Attempting to see change through the eyes of Jean Seberg...

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