Family And Friends Say Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence Is Still A Down Home Kentucky Girl

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — She is one of Hollywood’s hottest stars, but in her hometown, she’s still the girl next door.

Jennifer Lawrence’s path to stardom led her to New York City and Hollywood, but the Oscar-winning “Silver Linings Playbook” actress is a Kentucky girl through and through, her family and friends say.

“She is a Louisvillian at heart,” her big brother Ben Lawrence told the Daily News.

“She isn’t a Valley Girl. She has soul. She has street smarts.”

And she still puts family first.

Her guests for the Oscars were her parents, Karen and Gary, and her big brothers, Ben and Blaine.

“We took turns sitting up front with her,” Ben said.

“I sat with her for 45 minutes. Then Blaine, my brother, then my dad, then my mom.”

Lawrence's mother Karen owns Camp HiHo, a day camp for kids on the family’s horse farm.

Lawrence's mother Karen owns Camp HiHo, a day camp for kids on the family’s horse farm.

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

As for the fall seen around the world — his sister tripped on her gown on her way to accept her award — she took it in stride, her brother said.

Her joking around with reporters — and playfully flipping off photographers — about the incident backstage showed that she’s comfortable in her own skin.

“She is just a bad liar. She has to be honest. That’s why so many people relate to her,” he said.

“She is that person who you see on TV when she is not acting. She is real.”

J-Law was born in Louisville on Aug. 15, 1990.

Neighbor Jane Schmidt called the Lawrence clan “a wonderful Christian family,” and Jennifer “very sweet.”

Mom Karen, 56, owns Camp HiHo, a day camp for kids on the family’s horse farm. Dad, Gary, 56, owned a cement company.

Jennifer Lawrence's first photographer, Chris Kaufman, shows early photos of Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence's first photographer, Chris Kaufman, shows early photos of Lawrence.

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

Karen Lawrence had two boys and was thrilled to be having a daughter.

“I couldn’t wait to have a little girl and dress her up,” she told the Daily News.

But the tomboy had other ideas.

“She likes old jeans and sweatshirts. She likes her brothers’ clothes,” the mom said.

Jennifer always had star power and put it to good use, said nurse practitioner Pollyanna Strunk.

Jennifer and Strunk’s son, Andy, who has Down syndrome, met at church and then became close friends in Kammerer Middle School.

“She always had a soft heart for him. She always looked out for him. Middle school is a tough place to be, especially for a kid with special needs,” Pollyanna Strunk said.

Jennifer Lawrence's middle school in Louisville, Ky.

Jennifer Lawrence's middle school in Louisville, Ky.

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

In seventh grade, Lawrence was voted as “Most Talkative” — and she used her chatty knack to help Andy campaign the following semester to become “Mr. Kammerer.”

“It’s like king for the day,” Pollyanna Strunk said.

“She nominated him, and he won. She would talk to her friends and tell them to vote for him. She is very charismatic. It’s just her natural person coming out.”

It was around the same age that Jennifer decided she wanted to be an actress, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“The kid had a crazy dream,” said brother Ben, 31.

“Lousiville’s a blue-collar town. It’s not known for producing movie stars.”

Chris Kaufman, a Louisville photographer and talent agent, said Jennifer first came to see him when she was 12.

Jennifer Lawrence's with pal Andy Strunk. The two met in church and became close friends in middle school.

Jennifer Lawrence's with pal Andy Strunk. The two met in church and became close friends in middle school.

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

He told her and her parents it “was a little bit too early.” But Jennifer didn’t give up.

“They came back a year and a half later,“ he said.

“She was still young, still short, but her presence was undeniable.

He said he set up appointments for her with modeling agencies in New York.

“Jennifer went up one time and made it,” he said.

She decided to sign with CESD Talent Agency because of its focus on acting.

Kaufman told her she should try to focus on modeling.

Strunk shows of memorabilia given to him by Lawrence.

Strunk shows of memorabilia given to him by Lawrence.

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

“I told her there are limited roles for actresses. Let’s get you modeling. There is great money in modeling,” he said.

“She would say, ‘No. I want to be an actor.’ She was determined when she went to New York.”

The agency — and Jennifer — tried to convince Karen to let the 14-year-old move to the Big Apple.

“I told her, ‘Absolutely not,’ ” Karen said.

“She didn’t give up. CESD didn’t give up.”

The agency convinced her to spend six weeks during the summer letting Jennifer audition for work.

“It was supposed to be one exciting summer,” Karen said, but it led to Jennifer getting a gig on a TV show that was later canceled, and then to a regular role on “The Bill Egvall Show.”

Jennifer Lawrence's older brother Ben is all smiles in their hometown of Louisville, Ky.

Jennifer Lawrence's older brother Ben is all smiles in their hometown of Louisville, Ky.

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

Still, Karen was more concerned with Jennifer’s education than TV parts.

Terri Sgro, 42, a guidance counselor at Ballard High School in Louisville, said the mom enrolled Jennifer in online classes.

“Her mom said, ‘We will probably be back. I can’t hold her down. I have to give her a shot.’”

“She never came back.”

Karen homeschooled Jennifer in Los Angeles and repeatedly warned her that she’d be sent back to Kentucky if she didn’t focus on her schoolwork. She graduated early with a high GPA.

Bit parts got bigger, and in 2010, she scored the lead role in “Winter’s Bone” — her first Oscar nomination.

Then came the boffo box office success of “X-Men: First Class” and the blockbuster “The Hunger Games.”

This yearbook photo of Jennifer Lawrence declares her 'Most Talkative.'

This yearbook photo of Jennifer Lawrence declares her 'Most Talkative.'

(Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News)

All the while, she never forgot her friends back home.

Jennifer started sending Andy Strunk signed pictures from photo shoots when she was modeling, and then movie posters.

Pictures and posters of her festoon Andy Strunk’s bedroom.

A “Winter’s Bone” poster is inscribed, “To Andy — Don’t forget about me!”

The pair last hung out Christmas Day. Jennifer invited him to her parent’s home for a holiday hug.

“She has a good spirit,” Andy Strunk told the Daily News. “I just like to hang out with her.”

Pollyanna Strunk said her son received an autographed “Silver Linings Playbook” poster Saturday before the Oscars.

“She arranged for her aunt to hand deliver it to him,” she said. “This is her. She hasn’t forgotten who she is. This is her roots.”

>sweichselbaum@nydailynews.com

Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/oscar-winner-jennifer-lawrence-down-home-ky-girl-article-1.1277980

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