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The Psychology Behind Fame

September 06, 2017

How Does a Person Become Famous?

The path to fame, at least for media-related celebrities, generally starts in one of two ways: a person is able to display a significant amount of talent to individuals influential and/or powerful enough to get the person involved with a production, or the person is well connected whether it be self-created or something they are born in to.

Perhaps the actor gets a role in a commercial (Lindsay Lohan, Dakota Fanning), or the attractive individual is offered the chance to model for a line of clothing (Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks), or perhaps the individual is an heiress who stars on  a reality show (Kylie Jenner, Kelly Osbourn).  With each situation, it is safe to say that the person in question has an "appearance" of sorts in some form or another.  One could conclude that the path to fame starts with that initial appearance.

Generally speaking, the person will earn a small sum of money for this initial appearance.  The star of the commercial made an actor's salary for that particular shoot (as with Dakota), the model also earned a fee (as with Tyra).  Perhaps the reality star earned prizes, cash or the chance to receive endorsements or charge for appearances at clubs (as with Kylie Jenner).  And in modern society, things start to intertwine and crossover (Heidi and Tyra both became reality-show hosts and Kelly appeared on "Dancing with the Stars").

From the first appearance, the person either becomes what we deem a "one-hit-wonder" or they go on to do more things.  And while they're progressing up the lime-light ladder of success, society begins to take notice.  In some cases, we become true fans eagerly awaiting the celebrity's next appearance because we admire their work and with others we become obsessed with watching and waiting for failure. Jennifer Kates Ramlo, Ph.D commented in a past CIF webinar that we, as humans, often find interest in the failures of a celebrity because we are dealing with our own envy.  Seeing someone on a pedestal fail, allows us to take note that they are not perfect, and therefore more like us.  In all situations though, appearances beget money and recognition (whether positive or negative), recognition begets more appearances, appearances beget more money, and the combined beget fame.

The fact is, if your child has even one successful appearance, you can't control how society will react.  The only thing you can do is control how you and your child react along the way.  How will you deal with the funds initially earned? What types of projects will you accept after the first project?  Are you really ready to take on the realities associated with fame, like the fact that popularity sometimes is directly related to failure in the eye of the public?  What happens when your child out earns you? These are all questions a parent must ask before getting involved in the industry.