By Amanda Bruce (25, USA)
In June we asked you to nominate the celebs you feel are the most beautiful, inside and out. We asked you to consider more than just outward appearance when casting your nominations; career choices, role model status, charity involvement, and more were supposed to come into your decision. The fifty celebs we received the most nominations for competed in a poll that ran through July and August. Voting has now closed, and after more than 1.2 million votes (and in case you're wondering, half of those votes were for our top two spots alone), your top twenty are below. Take a look at some of the reasons you picked them. If you would like to see how some of your favorites ranked in 2010, you can check out the previous edition of the poll here, but most of this year's stars are making their debut on Portrait's Beauty List.
Once I learned I am not my dress size and to never let anyone put me in a box, I was more content with being myself and letting the world see my light shine.
The running theme in comments from our readers when they were asked about Amber Riley was this: she's an inspiration. Amber isn't simply another actress or singer for her fans, not just someone who entertains them, but a light amongst the darkness.
As a teenager, Amber auditioned for the reality series American Idol, and she didn't make it. She wasn't even put in front of the judges, just told she wasn't ready. And other people might have let that get them down, but she didn't. Amber finished high school, and she kept working at achieving her dream. She had a small role in a made for TV movie, but it was Glee that catapulted her into the spotlight several years later. It was Glee that had people taking notice of her powerhouse vocals, critiquing her wardrobe choices, and that gave her the opportunity to give back.
Amber is an antibullying advocate, and is heavily involved in the program 'Mean Stinks.' The program was put together by Secret Deodorant to help young women put an end to bullying and the low self esteem that accompanies it. You can check out their facebook page here, where you can ask questions of people involved in the organization, and find help if you are being bullied. Just like Amber herself, the program encourages people to focus on the positive rather than the negative, to find the good in a bad situation, and turn it around. If you follow Amber on twitter, you know that she does the same thing in her spare time. When taking breaks from her busy schedule, she'll take the time to interact with fans, reminding them how much she appreciates them, and helping them out with a kind word or two when they're feeling down.
In fact, If you follow Amber on twitter, you might also know that some of her fans let her know about her high ranking position in our poll. Here's what Amber told her fans in response:
Why You Chose Her
#2 Jensen Ackles
It isn't really a surprise to anyone here at Portrait that Jensen ranked so highly on this year's list. His easy going personality and talented turn as Dean on the CW's Supernatural have earned him a pretty rabid fanbase. We're sure his good looks don't hurt either.
Supernatural has been keeping Jensen pretty busy over the last few years. He's only had time for a handful of other projects, a few movies, and mostly, lending his voice to animated works and video games. But, unlike some genre television, Supernatural has given Jensen plenty of chances to show his acting range since his character is the wise cracking, quick to anger, loyal to his brother, good with just about any weapon, but also emotionally heavy Dean Winchester. It's hard for an actor to find a character that runs the gamut of human emotion, and get to play them for seven years.
It's a good thing he enjoys the work so much because he and costar Jared Padelacki have agreed to do two more seasons of the show (including the current season, set to premier next month) for the CW, if the network opts to renew the series. Jensen has also directed a handful of episodes of the series, including episode three of season eight, which you can catch mid-October. That doesn't sound like it would leave him much time for a personal life, but he and actress Daneel Harris tied the knot in 2010. So, sorry Supernatural fans, but he's off the market. He and Daneel frequently attend private charity functions together, so there's no red carpet photo ops, and no huge publicity for their careers. The couple is quietly generous, lending their support and their funds, to projects they support without jumping on Hollywood bandwagons for an attention boost. Low key and classy!
Why You Chose Him
#3 Cory Monteith
A man of many hats, Cory has just about done it all. Before he got into acting as a serious profession, he was an odd job kind of a guy, taking work where he could get. He's done everything from driving cabs to fixing roofs. And maybe that's why so many people like him. He has that “everyman” appeal. Cory Monteith, despite the super stardom he's reached because of Glee, is the kind of guy who could be your next door neighbor, or your best friend's big brother.
He's the kind of guy who doesn't let fame go to his head; he's having fun with it all. And he's also giving back. The causes that are close to his heart? Just about anything involving teenagers. Cory had some turbulent teen years, so he knows how rough kids can have it. He's done a lot of work with organizations that help homeless youth in Canada, where he's originally from, as well as filmed Public Service Announcements for 'Straight But Not Narrow,' an organization that aims at getting heterosexuals to stand up for the gay community. He's also been open in interviews about his past experiences with drugs, and hasn't shied away from discussing what he considers the low points in his life, hoping to show that he's living proof that teens can come back from the edge.
And he continues to be a man of many hats while doing all of that. In addition to his work with several charitable organizations, he's also still working on Glee, at least for this year, he's got a band with a few friends called Bonnie Dune that perform at small venues in Los Angeles, and he's got a few movies lined up for the next year. That is one busy boy next door.
Why You Chose Him
#4 Darren Criss
You've heard of the little engine that could? Darren Criss is like the little philanthropist that could. Set aside for a moment that he's so musically gifted that he can play almost any instrument, in addition to being able to sing. He's actually performed at more than 13 different events to help raise money or awareness for a non profit organization over the last two years. He's also one of the founding members of StarKid, a production company we've spotlighted here at Portrait before, and the group responsible for A Very Potter Musical. He was promoted to series regular on Glee in near record time. He's recently scored himself a recording contract with Sony, made his Broadway debut, and filmed a movie. Whew!
With his role on Glee making him a model for the LGBT community around the world, he's become much more heavily involved in organizations that work to help gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth. His primary focus has been The Trevor Project, an organization that works largely in the suicide prevention area for LGBT youth. Darren's performed at a few of their Trevor Live events, and done several interviews on their behalf to get the word out, and his role as out high school student Blaine Anderson has certainly garnered him plenty of thanks from teens who were previously too afraid to come out.
A few of the other organizations he's worked with in the last two years include Amnesty International, Rock the Vote, UNICEF, The Festival of New American Musicals, MusiCares, Toys for Tots, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. And he still finds time to participate in StarKid projects with the people who originally got him noticed on youtube. You've got to admire someone who's using their newly famous face for good.
Why You Chose Him
#5 Jennette McCurdy
Though she's been playing a sidekick for the last few years on iCarly, Jennette might just be the current queen of Nickelodeon comedy. She's got a love for laughter, citing sitcoms like Friends and The Big Bang Theory amongst her favorite shows, and maybe that's where she draws her inspiration for her work. Her portrayal of the rough around the edges Sam Puckett has easily made her a fan favorite amongst the tween audience, and she's guest starred on almost every other recent major Nick series in completely different roles (Zoey 101, True Jackson, Victorious, Bucket and Skinner), worked in movies for the network, and co-hosted awards shows for them as well. And the network has clearly realized what a talent they have in her, giving her a new series that she's recently started work on, her very own spin off called Sam and Cat, with her close friend and fellow Nick actress Ariana Grande.
Lest you think she's all about work though, it's important to note that two big parts of her appeal are that she doesn't take herself too seriously, and that she really is as sweet as she seems. She's got a sarcastic sense of humor and readily interacts with fans on her twitter account, taking time out of her busy schedule to do Q&A's and thank fans for their support. She also always stops to pose for photos and sign autographs, even if she's out with her family at a theme park (a favorite pastime of hers), a time that really should be separate. And since she's spent a lot of time in Nashville working on music over the last few years, she's developed a relationship with St. Jude's, a hospital that helps terminally ill children and their families, all for free. She's done several meet and greets with patients, auctioned off memorabilia to raise money for them, and even donated the profits from her concerts to their facility. She's gone out of her way to do just that little bit extra that makes her fans not only love her, but respect her.
Why You Chose Her
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The British rock band has been a steady presence on the music scene in Europe since 2004. With video footage from shows popping up all over the internet, they've become a world wide presence the last few years as well. They have a reputation for genuinely caring about their fans, and doing their best to meet and greet with as many as they can, sometimes doing free shows to demonstrate their appreciation. They even managed to get to the United States for a few small shows this year, after wanting to for the last several years, as a way to pay back the US fans who have stuck by them for so long. If you're interested in catching them, and you're in the US, they'll be in California and New York this month, but good luck finding tickets! They'll also be at Z Festival in Brazil this month too!
And it's not just the fans that they have a reputation for being nice to. They've also done a lot of work with charitable organizations over the years, whether it be raising money, or performing at charity events. In 2011, the group participated in a celebrity edition of the television game show Deal or No Deal, winning money for their chosen charities. And they've performed at events benefiting Comic Relief, Children in Need, Sports Relief, and Live 8 since they first hit the big time. Just this year, they attended a tea party benefiting Shooting Star CHASE where they auctioned off tickets to one of their shows.
And if you just can't get enough of McFly, their autobiography is due out in October. Also out this October? The first of several children's books written by band members Tom and Dougie. If you want to help spread the word about the band, you can also check out the fansite mission:McFly
, which works hard to get the guys more attention around the world. One of their chief aims over the last year has been to get the guys' songs covered on Glee, which would possibly introduce the band to a lot of new fans. A year long campaign? That's the kind of loyalty this group inspires.
Why You Chose Them
#7 Dianna Agron
Like her Glee costars who appear on this list, Dianna is someone who was launched into super stardom as a result of the musical television series. And like her costars, Dianna is incredibly talented, singing, dancing, acting, and dabbling in other forms of art as well. Also like her costars (are you sensing a theme?), Dianna has done so many things now that she knows more people are paying attention to her. Those Glee kids are serious multitaskers!
In late 2011, starting from her Tumblr, she launched her own website called You, Me, and Charlie, which is “a creative digital playground for users to inspire each other as friends and artists.” She, along with several editors for the site, post content related to art, music, fashion, anything that could inspire you. And the site is interactive, frequently asking visitors to contribute their favorite photographs and stories related to different topics. The site has expanded to include its own twitter and youtube accounts as well, taking advantage of social media.
Dianna is also heavily involved in several different nonprofit organizations, especially in the Los Angeles area, where she spends most of her time filming. She raises money, and has participated in auctions in the past, for 826LA, which works to provide support for some of the underfunded public schools in Los Angeles. Wildlife Waystation, another LA organization, is equally close to her heat. It's an animal sanctuary that she visits frequently. She's also a vegetarian, and frequent supporter of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and she'll often take to her twitter to express her feelings related to animal rights. She's also an advocate for gay rights, and over the last few years has become involved with The Trevor Project. This year, she took her involvement a step further, asking her fans to help her raise money for the organization instead of sending her birthday gifts. She promised to match their donation, which totaled over $26,000 by her birthday. That's a hefty birthday present.
Why You Chose Her
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#8 Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff is the model for what all current Disney stars aspire to be. With her television series Lizzie McGuire, she launched the golden age of the network, and her fans, now adults just like her, haven't forgotten. Hilary has remained a constant presence on Portrait's site, and in our more modern magazine version, since the beginning. And her fans always make sure to be vocal and quick to keep her up in our polls.
Some of Hilary's pursuits in the entertainment world include television, film, music, producing, fashion design, fragrance development, and novel writing. Hilary also aspires to write nonfiction as well. Her first plan is a book about how kids cope with divorce. As recently as January of this year, she was rumored to be recording new music for what would be her sixth studio album, but so far, there's no word on when that album might see the light of day. Of course, she might be putting all that aside right now, since her biggest project happens to be wife and mother. She and her former hockey player husband just had a baby boy, and he seems to be keeping her pretty busy.
All that business doesn't mean she doesn't make the time or the effort to give back. If she doesn't have the chance to personally devote time to a project she believes in, she does the next best thing, and something a lot more celebrities are in the position to do as opposed to the rest of us, and cuts the cause a check. During the Hurricane Katrina relief effort in 2005, Hilary donated $250,000. The following year, once she had the time, she personally made the trip to hand out meals with a food bank to people in the New Orleans area who were still in need. After participating in organizations like Kids With A Cause growing up, she's had the chance to serve on the advisory boards for several other organizations, including the Audrey Hepburn Child Benefit Fund. And even though she isn't a kid anymore, she remains one of the biggest supporters, and most popular participants, in Blessings in a Backpack, which packs bags full of supplies for kids in impoverished areas.
Hilary Duff is living proof that Disney kids can buck the child celebrity trend and grow into accomplished and well put together entertainers.
Why You Chose Her
#9 Selena Gomez
What can we say about Selena Gomez that hasn't already been said? If you're a fan, you know that she acts because she wants to challenge herself, she sings for a fun way to connect with her fans, she's super sweet to everyone she meets, she's dating the current pop prince Justin Bieber, she'd rather chow down on fast food than dine out at a fancy restaurant, and that she's just as comfortable in a pair of sweats and sneakers as she is in a gown and heels. You probably also know that in addition to acting and music, she's also got her own clothing line and her own fragrance.
One thing you might not know about the young entertainer though: July Moon Productions is actually her own production company. She launched it in 2008, with a little help. And the production company has a partnership with another studio, giving Selena access to their catalogs of projects, as well as the option to create her own. That means that since she's focused more on acting now (four years after starting the company), that we could be seeing a whole lot more of her on the big screen. The options in her contract allow for her to hire writers, and produce two films that she stars in, so she'll be branching out into more areas of the entertainment business.
In addition to her business savvy, Selena's got a great sense of compassion. Not only did she become involved with pretty much every Public Service option with Disney when she worked for their network, but she also took up a few causes of her own. While filming The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie in Puerto Rico, she noticed just how many stray dogs there were running the streets. She was so concerned, that she actually rescued a few dogs on her own, and took them back to live with her family. She also started working with the organization Island Dog, which aims to get the strays to loving homes. Selena's chief commitment has been UNICEF for the last four years though. She's the spokesperson for their Trick-Or-Treat For UNICEF campaign, which encourages kids to raise money when they go trick-or-treating instead of just asking for candy. She was named an ambassador for the organization at the age of 17 and has traveled with representatives to Ghana and Chile to gain first hand knowledge of the kinds of programs put in place to help families in developing areas.
Selena's one of the many stars using her celebrity powers for good instead of just attention, bringing kids awareness to problems in other parts of the world that they might not face in their everyday lives, and for that reason, a lot of parents are grateful for her role model status.
Why You Chose Her
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#10 Joe Jonas
He might have originally made a name for himself as part of a family act, but now that he and his brothers have branched out into their own projects, Joe Jonas has been getting recognition for his own hard work, cheerful attitude, and talent.
Though he's mainly known for his lead vocals as part of his band with his brother, he's had the chance over the last two years to record and put his own solo album out into the world. He wanted to showcase a more mature sound, to go along with him now being an adult, and he got that chance. He also got the chance to show he's becoming a serious artist: he and his brothers bought out their group and individual catalogs from Hollywood Records, severing ties with the music label, and getting ready to make music independently. In fact, that's what the trio is working on now in between their other commitments. Whether it be charity galas or public appearances, Joe is still making time for music.
You might not realize that growing up, he initially wanted to perform as a comedian, and act on sketch comedy series. When the brothers worked with Disney Channel, he got his wish. He and his brothers got to play caricatures of themselves on the series JONAS. Following that, Joe also got to appear as a guest actor on the series Hot In Cleveland with Betty White. And he's been steadily auditioning for more acting jobs, getting the chance to pursue that dream. And he's also getting the chance to help others achieve their dreams as well. Not only is he one of the mentors on the television series The Next, which pairs up artists with people who want to be in the entertainment industry, but he's also one of the mentor's with Acuvue's One Day Challenge, which he's done for a couple of years now.
Why You Chose Him
#11 Vanessa Hudgens
Vanessa Hudgens has a long resume for her short career, and she's seen her share of scandal to go along with it, but through it all, she's been honest, and held her head high, and that's why we all like her. She's the pretty and popular girl who isn't afraid to be herself, or make mistakes. She's the kind of girl from whom we could all learn a thing or two.
Career-wise, Vanessa has done a little bit of everything. From commercials to print ads, to children's television, TV movies and big screen dramas, studio pop albums to on stage musicals, she really has just about done it all. And her career path has shown a definite pattern of growth. She went from guest spots on shows like Drake and Josh to tween superstardom with the likes of High School Musical, and then, she used Disney as a launching pad to get into music and bigger films. Over the last few years, she expanded her resume to include action movies and dramas that had her almost unrecognizable, proving to the fans who saw her as the wide eyed Gabriella Montez who was romanced by Troy Bolton, that she can do more than waltz around on rooftops or high school gymnasiums.
And through all that work, her style has evolved as well. She's stopped putting on the clothes that people tell her to wear, and started pulling together ensembles that are fun and funky. She's a little bit boho chic and a little bit punk rock, but she can turn on the glamor on the red carpets. And she does this all while buying jewelry and accessories supporting organizations that foster free trade programs, or organizations that are run completely by women in impoverished countries. She's long been someone her fans can look up to, even when photos of her in various states of undress and provocative poses began circling the internet. At first, she refused to comment on what were clearly private moments caught by the flash of a camera, but eventually, when critics began calling for her release from the wholesome Disney franchise that made her famous, she released a statement, assuring her fans that what she did was private, and yes, she was embarrassed that someone had decided to show these images to the rest of the world, but hopefully, other people could learn from the mistakes she made. Vanessa found a way to take something that was traumatic for her, and help her fans make better decisions. Despite what her critics might want you to think, it's hard to find someone classier than that.
Why You Chose Her
#12 Ashley Tisdale
Ashley Tisdale, unlike some of the other people on our list this year, has a mighty long career. She's been acting and singing pretty much her entire life. She performed in sing-along-videos as a kid, had tons of guest starring spots on television, even sang in front of the President of the United States when she was 12, and was a Ford model for a while. She has been the perennial teenager as an adult, taking acting roles that allow her to play younger, like the roles that made her famous on the Disney Channel.
In fact, her manager advised her against working with Disney. She was already an adult, and outside of Disney's usual target age range, when she auditioned for the role of Maddie Fitzpatrick on The Suite Life of Zac and Cody. She was advised to audition for older, edgier roles, roles that could potentially help her make a name for herself. But at the time, Ashley was quick to admit that she wasn't ready for older roles. She didn't want the edgy parts. She enjoyed playing younger, and was having fun with comedy. It's a good thing she trusted her instincts because acting for Disney turned out to be a smart decision for her. She was able to play Maddie Fitzpatrick for a few years, and then, came three High School Musical movies, and a record deal, all stemming from her work with Disney, before she began to transition to slightly older roles, like an ABC Family movie and a CW television show.
And she doesn't just know what kind of work she likes, but what kind of charitable organizations she likes as well. In the past, she's done a lot of work with the Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization that helps provide medical care and entertainment for ill children and their families. They provide free concerts and meet and greet opportunities with kids in the program. She participated in several events with some of her High School Musical costars, and even worked as an ambassador for a while. She's also a frequent server for one of the food banks in Hollywood around the holidays when they provide free meals for the homeless. And this year, she's added Project Pink supporter to her list. She's one of the celebrities Puma has enlisted to help sell their Project Pink wear. Money from the sales will go to support a breast cancer related charity that consumers get to pick. Ashley, like Nina Dobrev before her, has appeared in the commercials to encourage young woman to use the money they would already be spending on sports wear for a good cause.
Why You Chose Her
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#13 Victoria Justice
Originally from Hollywood, Florida, Victoria Justice and her family made the move to Hollywood, California when she was very young and told her family she wanted to act. Her family supported her decision, and Victoria split her time between television sets and school, getting her big break a short time later on the Nickelodeon series Zoey 101
In fact, that role as part of the Zoey 101 ensemble would serve her well over the last few years. Victoria developed a talent deal with the network after her time on the show which would allow her to star in her own series and a television movie as well. Not only did Victoria get Victorious out of that deal, but she also got to work on iCarly, The Naked Brothers Band, and do voice work for several animated shows as well. She also landed herself a recording contract after her songwriting and vocal talent was used on Victorious. And since her star has risen so far with the launch of Victorious, the teenager has found herself in the spotlight quite a bit more than she's used. But she doesn't hide things from her fans, and she's refreshingly honest in interviews about how she feels about the Hollywood lifestyle (it's a little too gossipy), whether she's been tempted by substances (she's tried some things at parties, but it's not for her), and where she sees herself long term (she doesn't know, but she loves learning from all of the more experienced people she's worked with; she can't wait to try all of the aspects of the entertainment industry). And even though it was recently announced that the series named for her is coming to an end very soon, that doesn't mean she's going to be any less busy.
Not only is the budding pop star currently on tour, but she's also going to be doing a lot of promoting for Fun Size, her first leading role in a feature film, which will debut this month. And, she's continuing her work with Girl Up, an organization that has become very important to her. According to the mission statement from the organization, “Girl Up envisions a world where all girls, no matter where they live, have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and positioned to be the next generation of leaders.” Victoria doesn't take her work with them lightly. She's gone on trips with them, raised money, and even blogged for them. When she first joined up in 2010, she said, "I’m so excited to become a Champion for Girl Up and to help make a difference for girls who aren’t given the same opportunities that most of us take for granted. I know that there are plenty of girls throughout the country who are just like me – ready and motivated to stand up for the rights and well-being of girls in the developing world. I am confident that, together, we will rise to the challenge."
Why You Chose Her
#14 Debby Ryan
In roughly five years, Debby Ryan has gone from Disney Channel's new girl to the network's brightest star, and she's soaked up every bit of entertainment industry knowledge she could along the way, bringing a legion of fans along for the ride.
Before she was the object of Cody's affection on Suite Life On Deck, you wouldn't have been able to find a member of the average TV audience who knew her name. And Debby didn't know all that much about acting on television sets either. She was a wide eyed ingénue with a knack for comedic timing that garnered her early comparisons to legends like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Debby though, she was a fast learner. Not only has she learned what she could about working in front of the camera, but she also learned what she could about working behind the camera, and found herself eager to learn about every single aspect of the business. She's become incredibly savvy in her short time in the industry. She's made music, she's got a production deal with Disney, and she's interested in one day directing, writing, doing it all. She has an interest in all aspects of the art of storytelling.
And those aren't her only interests. She's also interested in passing on the knowledge she's learned to those who will inherit her Disney throne. She never passes up the chance to spend time with her younger Jessie costars, and helps them with any work she can, wanting them to have an easier time learning the ropes than she did. And she does the same for her fans. When she soaks up all the information she can about a subject that interests her, she eagerly spreads the word to them, whether it's through twitter or youtube, or her blog. She shares information about her favorite bands, favorite movies, but also about how they can change the world. She's taken the philosophy of Disney's Friends For Change to heart, and encourages everyone to make a difference, no matter how small. Her work with Free The Children in India has brought attention to a cause a lot of her younger fans might not have been familiar with, helping to get the word out about the importance of education, and the reality that not everyone has access to the education they have every right to receive. In Debby's case, the old saying that knowledge is power is very much true, but it's also beautiful.
Why You Chose Her
#15 Devon Bostick
Canada native Devon Bostick has been fairly steadily active in the acting world for the last ten years, since he was just a youngster, but it's his recent turn as bad boys on film, like the bully of an older brother in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, that have made him famous. And while he might play practical jokes and pick on his younger costars on set with sibling-like affection, he couldn't be further from a bully if he tried.
He doesn't have a big ego at all, crediting all of his success in the business with the education he received from Etobicoke School of the Arts. He signed up for the school after discovering that it offered flexible scheduling for working performers, and he studied drama there for four years. His teachers, like his fans now, remember him as hard-working, charismatic, and incredibly talented, three things that will most definitely serve him well in the near future since he's got two projects currently in production for next year's release.
And he doesn't understand his impending heart throb status. He isn't used to girls telling him how hot he is, instead proclaiming himself the “goofy one,” and actually has experience with being bullied in school. He's an antibullying advocate, like so many of the younger generation of Hollywood. Before getting into a performing arts based school, he had to deal with plenty of kids ganging up on him and teasing him because he wasn't just a regular kid, but an actor. His advice? “...you've just got to ignore them, and know that down the line that kid will have nothing to do with your life, and who you are. It seems like the entire world revolves around being bullied at that time, but there's so much more out there, so you have to stick it out.”
Why You Chose Him
#16 Brendan Meyer
Not even eighteen yet, and Brendan Meyer is pretty accomplished, especially for someone who's only been acting professionally for the last half a dozen years. You likely know him as the star of the television series Mr. Young, but there's a lot more to this actor who plays teacher.
Brendan is also a self professed Shakespeare nerd, and he isn't afraid to show it. He's worked with the Freewill Shakespeare Festival in his native Edmonton for a few years now, and he's both acted in and directed several plays. He also happens to be the co-artistic director of the Celsius Youth Theater. And he isn't just concerned with what happens on the stage. Brendan has even written his own versions of adaptations of some of Shakespeare's stories!
And since theater is something especially close to Brendan's heart, he's become involved in Project Limelight, an organization in Vancouver, where Brendan has spent a lot of time filming over the years. The organization aims to give kids from Vancouver, who might otherwise be growing up in a not-so-safe neighborhood a chance to explore the world of theater. And outside of his own backyward, Brendan has lent his support to One as well, a group that works for international poverty relief. Of course, he also has a personal connection to that organization as well; his mother actually worked with members of the organization on other projects before, and he's grown up seeing first hand the kind of good they can do. Looks like Brendan's interests have been serving him well.
Why You Chose Him
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#17 Demi Lovato
When Demi Lovato first hit the Disney scene on their short series As The Bell Rings, she was clearly going to be a star. It wasn't long before Camp Rock, Sonny With A Chance, Princess Protection Program, and a couple of studio albums, and a couple of tours, followed. She jumped at the chance to do every project offered to her, a performer who wouldn't say no because no one was going to work as hard as her. But all of that caught up with her, and her world crumbled. But she put it back together. And that's one of the big reasons she has so many loyal fans.
Though there's no arguing that Demi is a hardworking young woman, her time at Disney, which was her big break, wasn't a happy one for her. She would work all day, go without eating because she wanted to stay as thin as all the other young stars she was surrounded with, and then she would be so unhappy with herself that she would party all night with the hopes of cheering herself up. When everything came to a head on the Camp Rock 2 tour, she finally agreed to her family's request to go to a rehab facility to deal with her emotional issues. There, Demi received treatment for an eating disorder and body image issues, as well as bipolar disorder, a condition she never knew she had. And rather than sweep everything under the rug, Demi has been outspoken about her problems, discussing them with several news outlets, and even filming a special for MTV. Letting that big of an audience into your life can't be an easy thing to do.
Now, Demi's got a new gig, and it isn't for Disney. She's a judge on the new season of the American version of the series X Factor, a talent competition. And she's clearly become much more comfortable in her new environment, getting to judge alongside Britney Spears, Simon Cowell, and LA Reid. She's been writing and recording music for the last several months, but she isn't in any hurry to do any acting right now. She's also been a spokesperson for the movement started by Brittany Snow, “Love Is Louder,” and she's blogged about her struggles for Seventeen Magazine's website. And she sounds like a very busy girl. The difference now is that Demi's been allowing herself to take breaks, to say no to projects, and focusing on the things she really wants to do, keeping herself happy and healthy, and helping her fans along the way.
Why You Chose Her
More of Demi in Portrait Magazine:
#18 Alexz Johnson
Alexz has been a fixture in Portrait for several years now. We watched her climb to stardom with her time on the Canadian series Instant Star, and we watched as her dreams of releasing her own music into the world seemingly crumbled when she was dropped from her record label, and even when she and her brother put their own money up to solidify her position as an independent artist. And her fans have consistently nominated her in all of our polls, and then stuck around to the end to make sure she kept a spot on the list.
Why does everyone love to track Alexz's progress so much? Because she's living proof that dreams do come true, with a little faith, and a whole lot of hard work. She isn't someone who got lucky and fell into the entertainment business. She chose to pursue acting as a vehicle to sing. In fact, she flat out told the staff at an acting agency that she wanted jobs where she could sing when she walked in off the street to sign with them. And when she auditioned for the Disney series So Weird, she was offered the part of Annie on the spot. After the Disney series came to an end, she did take a few years off to focus on music, but ended up auditioning for another television series when she heard about a musical opportunity from the showrunner for Degrassi. She was the first audition video screened, and the top choice for the role of Jude on Instant Star before the rest of the videos were examined. But Jude's music wasn't her music.
Alexz wanted the chance to pursue writing music as herself, not as a character. And when she was blocked at every turn, she didn't give up. Though she enjoys acting, music is her passion, so when there was a chance that could be taken away from her, she fought it. And she won. Even though she was dropped from a major label, she was eventually able to buy her music back from them. And now, she has the freedom to release any or all of her music however she would like. She even managed to get her visa, and cross the border from Canada to the United States to perform shows around the country. She called on her fans for their support though, raising money for the shows through Kickstarter, a website set up to help people fund artistic pursuits. The thing about being an independent artist is that you don't have the financial backing of a major record label; you can't just put together a 15 city tour and shelves of merchandise at the drop of a hat. Without a big label team, it takes a lot of work. But Alexz is willing to put in the work because she's doing what she loves. That's the lesson to be learned from someone like Alexz; hard work and creative thinking can go a long way.
Why You Chose Her
#19 Greyson Chance
Most people probably know Greyson's story by now. He got into the music industry in a way similar to Colbie Caillat and Justin Bieber – through the internet. Covers of popular songs, by Greyson, were up on youtube, and they attracted the attention of someone in a position to do something about it, someone famous. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Of course, Greyson's youtube covers were a little different from the average pop singer. Instead of doing similar arrangements of songs you could already hear on the radio, he did something a little different, piano covers that he made his own. His most popular is probably the slowed down acoustic version of Lady Gaga's “Paparazzi.” Fitting since he cites her theatricality and her commitment to her music as an inspiration. He also posted his own songs, and later wound up performing on television. Ellen Degeneres even started a record label just so she could sign him; the talk show host believed in his talent that much.
His last couple of years have been a whirlwind for him. He's now had the opportunity to release his debut album, film a handful of music videos, tour with iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove, film with Ariana Grande, scored five different award nominations for his music, and even made a foray into acting on the sitcom Raising Hope. And, even though his star is only just beginning to rise, Greyson isn't wasting any time in giving back. Earlier this year, he co-hosted and performed at the National Association of Music Merchants' SchoolJam USA finals. He said about his work with the program “Music is such an important part of my life and I am very excited to help shine the spotlight on some new talent – it’s important to me to support programs like SchoolJam USA and foster ongoing music education.” With a bright future ahead of him, he's sure to get plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Why You Chose Him
More of Greyson in Portrait Magazine:
#20 Erica Durance
Though she's had a pretty long career, it was her role as the iconic Lois Lane in Smallville that made Erica famous a few years back. And for someone coming from the land of low budget horror films and guest starring parts, playing the role of a comic book icon could be a little daunting, but she embraced it like a pro (though she did have so much fun on the show that she's joked in interviews that she would never play Lois again unless Tom Welling played her Clark Kent).
Since appearing on the series, she's made regular appearances in “hottest” and “most physically fit” and “beautiful” polls around the internet, not it shouldn't be a shock that she ranked on ours. Fans of the actress, whether they discovered her because of her work on Smallville or something else, are pretty vocal about why they love her. And she doesn't just draw in fans because of her physical features, or even her talent, but also because of her 'super' sized heart.
She's a supporter of many causes, but one story in particular that sticks out for a lot of fans is her work with Jeph Loeb (one of the Smallville producers) to raise money for the Sam Loeb Scholarship fund. She attended the Wizard World Chicago event with Jeph in 2006 where the two auctioned off memorabilia for the fund, raising more than $60,000. Usually, when actors attend events like that, signings and photo ops especially, they get a hefty paycheck. Almost no one puts in those appearances for free; that's why admission fees for conventions are so expensive. Erica was different though. She was offered $15,000 for her appearance at the auction. And instead of taking it, she added it to the scholarship fund. She might as well wear her own cape.
Why You Chose Her
Full 2012 Poll Results
Amber Riley (326150) 27%