Blonde Ambition

September/October 2001

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Blonde Ambition

Courtesy Amanda Brown

If only every student’s daydreams led to such success.

“I was sitting in tort class when the novel popped into my head,” recalls Amanda Brown, author of Legally Blonde, which inspired the July movie of the same title. “I wanted to do a parody of law school.”

Originally an e-book, Legally Blonde tells the story of usc sorority princess Elle Woods, a jewelry-design major who follows her blue-blooded East Coast ex-boyfriend to Stanford Law School.

Describing Elle’s proposed Blonde Legal Defense Fund, Brown writes: “True blondes, whether natural or not, can be identified by their inner light of buoyant, charmed confidence. Andre Agassi, for example, has the beacon of a true blond despite the atrocious things he has done to his hair.”

The movie earned $20 million in its first week of release and remained a top-10 box office draw well into August. It garnered mixed reviews but almost universal acclaim for Reese Witherspoon, ’99, who portrays Elle.

Though the film changes the setting to Harvard, Brown says the book was completely inspired by her experience at Stanford Law. Screenwriters Karen Lutz and Kirsten Smith spent two days on campus in the spring of 2000 doing research for their screenplay.

Brown, who left the Law School in 1995 after two years, says she’s glad she went. “It helped me decide what I wanted to do: write.”

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