Unlikely heroes...and heroines

by Kayla Perrin

This week, unlikely heroine, Susan Boyle, took the entire world by storm. If you've somehow missed the news clips on television, she was a contestant on BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT. The unemployed 47-year-old, who admits she's never been kissed by a man, went onto the stage in front of hundreds, and was ridiculed immediately. Why? Because of her appearance.

Now I'm the type of person who knows you can't judge a book by its cover, but I can see why the judges (especially Simon Cowell, who always comments about people's appearance) didn't expect much from the dowdy Susan Boyle. I loved her totally fun spirit, which she displayed the moment she began to talk. Unfortunately, the people in the audience even laughed at her sassy attitude. Even Simon Cowell rolled his eyes. None of them could see past Susan's outward appearance, snickering and rolling their eyes, expecting--solely based on her appearance--a horrific audition.

And then Susan Boyle opened her mouth and began to sing. And blew the judges away. And the entire audience.

And the whole world.

If you know me, you know that I love to champion the underdog. It's just my nature. But the fact that Susan Boyle is such an unexpected heroine, she's gained the respect and adoration of millions around the world.

She was incredible, and proved to everyone that it's not what you look like on the outside that matters. A lesson people clearly need to learn over and over.

This is one of those times when a nice person actually ends up getting much-earned publicity, well-deserved fame, and hopefully the cash to go along with that. It wasn't a raunchy porn video or some other bad behavior that gained Susan fame, which happens so much these days. It was talent, pure and simple.

She's never been married or even in a relationship, but I can see that changing real soon. Let's hope she lands herself a nice guy with some spunk! However, judge Piers Morgan may be interested...he offered to be the first man to kiss her, and I just saw him ask her out to dinner on CNN. Susan accepted!

Now, onto unlikely heroes. Recently, I had the chance to watch TAKEN, a story about two American teens abducted into sexual slavery in Paris. I happen to have just finished writing a novel about the very same topic, a story called SPRING BREAK that St. Martin's Press will release next year. In my story, a young college girl goes missing on a Caribbean island, and her friends aren't sure what happened to her--but it soon becomes clear the island has a history of women being abducted into white slavery. In the movie, two hapless young women--seventeen years old--are in Paris for their first solo vacation.

Liam Neeson plays the father of one of the girls, and as a former U.S. operative, he knows the world is full of seedy types. He wasn't thrilled about the trip to Paris, but gives in because his daughter really wants to go. But their first day there, they are abducted. It started with a "scout" at the airport, and went terribly wrong.

But they messed with the wrong man's daughter, and Liam Neeson is catapulted to action hero status with his role in this movie. He was credible, likable, and the kind of hero you root for from the first moment. He will move heaven and earth to find his daughter, which you know means a few bad guys will get killed along the way. But you want him to do this dirty work. You find yourself wishing there were more men in the world who would.

He is real. He is a father facing a heart wrenching situation. And he'll stop at nothing to bring his daughter home. I didn't expect this sort of role for Liam Neeson, so for me, he is an unexpected hero. He totally blew me away. In fact, if there was another movie with him headlining as an action hero, I would be one of the first in line to see it.

I love when people do the unexpected, and surprise us in the most pleasant of ways. Who have you seen as unlikely heroes or heroines?



  1. Hey Kayla! Great post. I totally loved Susan Boyle's spunk too. I hadn't seen the original show, but was embarrassed at the media followup - the reporters who insinuated (none too subtly) she needed a makeover, and asked whether she loved the feeling of revenge on old classmates who used to bully her. Susan brushed off those questions with confidence and verve. Bravo, Susan! Go get 'em. I love underdogs, too.
    Wow, your upcoming release sounds amazing. Best of luck with it!

  2. Hi Kayla: Terrific post! I love the underdog turned hero/heroine too! And Susan Boyle certainly fits that bill. Mark my words there is a movie in the works about her life! As for Liam Neeson - He just exudes strength and honour and especially now with the sudden passing of his wife Natasha Richardson - he seems even more heroic.

  3. p.s. your upcoming book sounds like a page turner!

  4. Hey, Kayla! Great post--I too was moved by Susan Boyle's performance (not just her singing, but the way she had the confidence to not let all the glitz and glam and preconceptions get to her!)

    Haven't seen Taken yet, but will definitely add it to my netflix queue--and your next book to my TBR list!

  5. Hi,Kayla.

    I love this post!

    I remember getting a gracious dressing-down in a beauty supply store. I got in a huff when the clerk spent what I considered to be too much time with a customer that made a small purchase. She rebuked me in such a manner that, well, she radiated truth. I'll never forget it.

    These folks walk among us, and some times we are able to see them.

    Thank you, Lavanna Martin

  6. Kayla - the clips of Susan's performance gave me a real surge of joy, mostly for the expressions that went over Simon's face. I can tell you I'm not a big fan of his. I detest his people skills - or lack thereof. There's a hundred ways to let someone know you didn't care for their performance without being insulting - but he hurls the cuts like a knife thrower at the circus.

    However, after they'd welcomed her onstage and Simon forced himself to say a few things to someone he'd pegged as another William Hung - once she started singing, the look of disbelief and the shining wonder of it all lit up Simon's face and I actually felt kind of choked up at that. Somewhere inside that nasty jerk is a man who wants to experience exactly that moment. And Susan Boyle gave it to him.

    As for Liam Neeson, he's been a big favorite of mine since he appeared as Gawain in 'Excalibur' and as a sailor aboard 'The Bounty' with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. I haven't seen 'Taken' yet, but my cousin recommended it to me, and we share the same taste in heroes.

    An unlikely hero that stands out for me is Alun Armstrong as Henry Fox in 1999's 'Aristocrats' (BBC). Armstrong is a well-known character actor, but in this production he got to play a romantic role, winning the heart of the eldest arisrocratic daughter who is then ostracized by the family for daring to marry a common politician. His performance always stayed with me, as he becomes the everyman who is loved despite his outward appearance and more than that - for those times - his station in life. He's the Susan Bower of that mini series!

  7. Hi, y'all,
    Thanks for your comments! Yes, I was very impressed by Susan's attitude afterward. Larry King asked her if she's going to change her appearance now, get a makeover, and she said, "Why should I change?" Exactly. Why should she? Piers Morgan said he agrees--that people love her for who she is so she shouldn't change.

    I also agree about Simon Cowell. To see a man who can be so vile in his "critiques" actually sigh and his face glow at Susan's performance, well, that was something incredible. I've never seen that expression on his face before!

    I will have to check out ARISTOCRATS. Sounds like it's just up my alley.

    Yes, Joanna, Liam Neeson seems even more heroic in the wake of his wife's untimely passing. He's always been a great actor. I truly loved TAKEN.

  8. Hey Kayla

    I caught the clip of Susan Boyle in the news the other day, and she totally blew me socks off! The part I loved most was when one of the judges riled her when she said she would love to sing. I think it was Cowell, and he said, Why don't you do it? She replied, Because no one gave me the chance. Judges go, here's your chance, with such disdain and contempt, and then to see the look on their faces when she sings! Wow! Yup, definitely a person worthy of being recognised!

    I haven't seen Taken yet, but based on your 'review' here, I'm definitely gonna get it when it comes out here. Always loved Liam Neeson, he has that kind of quiet confidence about him that imo makes a true hero, a real, strong man.

    One performance that really stunned me, was Colin Farrel in the movie In Bruges. He was just sooo good at this tortured character, and the way he portrayed those expressions on his face! Amazing, especially for a bad boy who plays fast-paced parts most of the time.

    Your book sounds intriguing, would love to get me hands on it!



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