Wondering how to start a celebrity memoir?
How to start a celebrity memoir can be a tricky issue, for the readers know and love the authors – or, at least, the authors’ public personas. Readers who purchase these memoirs know the films and TV shows the authors have appeared in, the concerts they’ve given, the outrageous things they have said on talk shows, how many times they’ve been married and divorced, the causes they support, and more.
Because of this, there can be pressure on the celebrity memoirist to write as the persona the public knows, rather than the person they really are. To come out swinging with a funny story or outrageous statement, rather than with a previously unknown anecdote that reveals the person beneath the facade.
Some celebrities happily highlight the persona in their memoirs, while others try to show us the person underneath.
Here are five examples of the opening paragraphs from popular celebrity memoirs. As you can see, some have tackled the “how to start a celebrity memoir” question by highlighting the persona, while other have tried to pull back the curtain.
1. Start a celebrity memoir with an amusing story
Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody (2016) – a New York Times bestseller
There was a small window in my early childhood when I wanted to be a doctor. This was inspired by my pediatrician, a relatively young man whom I called Dr. Handsome. I had assumed this was because his name was Dr. Hasen or Dr. Branson, but I recently found out that his name was Dr. Ringer, so I guess I should’ve just died age four when I decided call my physician Dr. Handsome without so much as a pun to justify it.
Anna Faris, Unqualified (2017)
Remember when you first spotted him sprinting across the playground, schooling the other boys in a heated game of tag? Or the moment you noticed him at his desk, brown spiky hair ticking up in all the right places?
He was the first boy to make you crave the male gaze; he made you wonder what it would be like to have a boyfriend; he inspired you to start a diary.
You’ve been there, dear reader, haven’t you?
For me, that boy was Jason Sprott.
2. Start a celebrity memoir with insight into you and your world
Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life (2008)
I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success. My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next. Enjoyment while performing was rare – enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford. After the shows, however, I experienced long hours of elation or misery depending on how the show went, because doing comedy alone on stage is the ego’s last stand.
3. Start a celebrity memoir with your birth and childhood
Carole King, A Natural Woman: A Memoir (2013)
In the first decade of the twentieth century a man and a woman from Poland, another man from Poland, and a woman from Russia undertook to cross a continent and an ocean with little more than a fierce determination to find a better life in America. They were my grandparents, and they found that better life in Brooklyn, New York. Had my grandparents not emigrated when they did, I might have been born Jewish in Eastern Europe during World War II, or I might not have been born at all. Instead, I was born in 1942 in New York City.
4. Start a celebrity memoir by describing a situation laden with possibilities, good or bad
Keith Richards, Life (2011)
Why did we stop at the 4-Dice Restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas, for lunch on Independence Day weekend? On any day? Despite everything I knew from ten years of driving through the Bible Belt. Tiny town of Fordyce. Rolling Stones on the police menu across the United States. Every copper wanted to bust us by any means available, to get promoted and patriotically rid America of these little fairy Englishmen. It was 1975, a time of brutality and confrontation. Open season on the Stones had been declared since our last tour, the tour of ’72, known as the STP. The State Department had noted riots (true), civil disobedience (also true), illicit sex (whatever that is), and violence across the United States. All the fault of us, mere minstrels. We had been inciting youth to rebellion, we were corrupting America, and they had ruled never to let us travel in the United States again. It had become, in the time of Nixon, a serious political matter. He had personally deployed his dogs and dirty tricks against John Lennon, who he thought might cost him an election. We, in turn, they told our lawyer officially, were the most dangerous rock-and-roll band in the world.
How to start a celebrity memoir?
As you can see from the examples above, there is no hard-and-fast answer to the “how to start a celebrity memoir” question. It depends on whether you wish to write as your persona or the person underneath, your theme, slice, and more. To learn about the theme and slice of a memoir, see “Writing Your Memoir: First Steps.”
And for more on how to begin a memoir in general, see our “How to Start a Memoir.” You can also see examples of how specific types of memoirs are started in these blogs: