Questions To Consider

  • Why do you think an accomplished actor still wouldn’t feel confident enough to audition for a movie role?
  • What is the emotion that “This Is Me” means to bring out in the audience
  • What is the message of Keala Settle’s character in The Greatest Showman?

What We Think

When Lettie Lutz (played by Keala Settle) burst onto the screen in the movie The Greatest Showman, we met a character who has many, many reasons to hide from society but then breaks out of her comfort zone, finding power and strength. It’s impossible not to be moved while watching the scene in the movie when she leads all the “freaks” from the circus out into the street, belting “This is me!”

The woman behind the character, Keala Settle, has a story that mirrors that moment of coming out from the shadows, and it’s beyond inspiring.

Ms. Settle, a native of Hawaii and of Māori descent, decidedly does not fit our culture’s beauty ideal that so many of us needlessly strive toward. She says she was terrified to come out from behind the music stand during her audition for The Greatest Showman — but once she did, she broke into tears and brought actor Hugh Jackman to tears, too. She said in an interview on The Graham Norton Showthat Mr. Jackman had to coax her to audition in the first place.

Once Keala Settle came out from behind that music stand, it was on.

Lest we all think that Ms. Settle was plucked from obscurity out of “regular people” throngs, note that she has been on Broadway in various roles since 2011. Which makes it even more poignant that she still didn’t feel good about herself.

The song “This Is Me” powerfully captures the power of a person who doesn’t easily fit into society but who is going to be herself — unapologetically and with high confidence — anyway. Clearly it hasn’t stopped Ms. Settle from performing and using her fantastic voice to add an emotional resonance to her work. The song “This Is Me” is an anthem for outcasts, but don’t we all feel like outcasts sometimes? It’s an anthem for everyone — and definitely for every girl who isn’t sure of herself.

The song won a Grammy and was nominated for an Oscar, so she must have done something right! — Jennifer Berger

Where We Saw It

The Greatest Showman (film in theater)

The Graham Norton Show, BBC America, February 9, 2018