Fast forward a couple years — 31-year-old actress and singer Anna Kendrick is no longer singing to a rhythm created by flipping, tapping and shuffling a plastic cup and is instead coming to speak at Penn.
Presented by SPEC Connaissance, Kendrick will speak at Irvine Auditorium on Nov. 18 from 7 to 8 p.m. Like previous SPEC Connaissance speakers — including Caitlyn Jenner and Serena Williams — Kendrick will participate in a moderated discussion followed by an audience Q&A.
“She’s always been someone on our list of who we’d love to bring in as a dream speaker and she’s just someone who everyone relates to,” College senior and SPEC Connaissance Director Caroline Pitofsky said. “She’s funny, and everyone knows her Twitter account and overall she’s just perfect for college students.”
The discussion will be moderated by psychology professor Angela Duckworth, who is best known for her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” and her corresponding TED Talk, which has received almost 9.5 million views.
“I had taken a class with her before, and we had also watched her videos online and we just thought that her knowledge and personality and connection with audiences worked perfectly with this kind of event and with Anna Kendrick,” Pitofsky said. “I think they’re going to have a great discussion and it will be very natural”.
Kendrick’s visit falls during a tour to promote her new book “Scrappy Little Nobody,” which is coming out Nov. 15. As part of her book promotion, the first 650 people that walk into the auditorium will also receive a free copy of the book. The book is partially autobiographical and also contains short stories, according to Wharton sophomore and SPEC Connaissance Director Chris Richardson.
Kendrick began her career as a child actor in theater productions and, at the age of 12, was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in “High Society” on Broadway. She soon took on a supporting role in the New York City Opera in 2003 and made her film debut the same year in “Camp.”
A few years later, she played a supporting role in The Twilight Saga and played protagonist Bella Swan’s friend Jessica Stanley.
She then starred alongside George Clooney in the 2009 movie “Up in the Air,” in which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In 2012, Kendrick made her big break with “Pitch Perfect” as she played protagonist Beca Mitchell, an angsty, laidback college freshman who joins an a capella group called the Barden Bellas. The widely popular musical comedy was turned into a sequel in 2015 and “Pitch Perfect 3” is also slated for release in 2017.
This year, in addition to her book, Kendrick has also been busy on-screen as she co-starred with Ben Affleck in “The Accountant,” voiced a main character in the DreamWorks movie “Trolls” and starred in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” with Zac Efron, Adam DeVine and Aubrey Plaza.
Her various experiences across theater, television and film fit well with SPEC Connaissance’s mission to bring in a diverse, interesting array of high-profile speakers.
“As a general theme, we’re trying to explore areas which we haven’t brought speakers in from before”, Richardson said. “In the past, a lot of our speakers have been focused on traditional acting or were news personalities but this year we’re bringing someone who’s crossed a variety of media platforms.”
Tickets will go on sale on Nov. 7 and will be sold at various times on Locust and in staggered releases online. Tickets are $10 for Penn students and $40 for the public.
“We’re very excited,” Richardson said. “She’s always so effervescent that people draw off her energy so she’s the perfect person for a discussion or a speaking event.”