You can keep your jocks, your nerds, your princesses. (Well, princesses we’ll allow.) The true stars of the teen movie genre — the true stars of anything! — are the theater kids.
The greatest drama of high school happens, obviously, in the drama department. The stakes are never so high, the betrayals never so cutthroat, the wardrobe is never so glamorous! So in honor of the release of Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s hilarious new entry into the genre, we have taken it upon ourselves to round up the greatest teen thespians of the big screen — inferior though it is to the hallowed stage — and determine a power ranking of truly Shakespearean proportions. Let the diva battle begin!
NOTE: This list is limited to drama queens from movies only, because we absolutely did not want to even set one foot into Rachel Berry territory.
7. Kelly (Kirsten Dunst) in Get Over It (2001)
Kelly ranks last for not being a drama queen at all. Truly! She writes her own lovely ballads and works hard to get the part she wants and helps her brother’s talentless best friend audition just so he can win back his ex-girlfriend. The sweetness! The selflessness! The sincerity! What an outrage!
6. Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) in Lady Bird (2017)
While we do admire the true diva move that is giving oneself one’s own “given name,” we regret that Lady Bird’s efforts at becoming a true icon of the Sacramento stage are half-hearted at best. And while attitude really is everything when it comes to being a bona fide theater bitch, we cannot ignore that Lady Bird’s talent for being dramatic so significantly exceeds her talent for the actual dramatic arts.
5. Lola (Lindsay Lohan) in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)
While it can certainly benefit a budding theater tyrant to have a less-than-firm grasp on reality, being a pathological liar (and a sloppy one at that) is a completely different thing from willfully imposing your preferred vision of the world on everyone around you, as the most successful divas know to do. Furthermore, befriending one (1) measly rock star is nothing, Lola. Get it together.
4. Rand (Skylar Astin) in Hamlet 2 (2008)
A star drama student selling out his (even more delusional) teacher is a true power move — if only Rand had stuck with it. Being oversensitive and unable to maintain a grudge for at least a whole semester will get you nowhere, Rand. Remember that.
3. George (Noah Galvin) in Booksmart (2019)
Listen, you don’t go all the way to Barcelona to study the fine art of el teatro to be just another Ivy-bound philistine along with the rest of your graduating class. You don’t throw a flawless murder mystery party just to have your stupid little sister walk into the dining room and ruin the whole tableau. George isn’t messing around here. He has standards. He has taste. He has expectations. However, his ability to occasionally acknowledge others’ talent — if qualifiedly — prevents him from truly topping the list.
2. TIE: Jill (Alana Allen) and Fritzi (Anna Kendrick) in Camp (2003)
We couldn’t choose between Camp Ovation’s pair of dueling divas (and admittedly would fear for our safety were we to pledge loyalty either way), so Jill and Fritzi have to tie for second place. While Jill relies primarily on oppressing ensemble-level underlings verbally — most crucially with the absolutely brutal power move of pretending not to remember Fritzi after having performed together in ‘night, Mother (which only has… two characters) — the long-suffering Fritzi plays just as dirty, preferring to actually poison food and makeup for the privilege of playing Joanne in Company. We would call it extreme, but we’re talking about Sondheim here.
1. Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) in High School Musical (2006)
Thespians, take note. We have reached the top of the pyramid. This is the queen bee of drama queens, a true star among wannabes. What is there not to love about Sharpay’s ruthless campaign to wipe out every ingénue who threatens her status? Who couldn’t admire her total disregard for the wishes and feelings of her brother, who is worth nothing more to her than a permanent duet partner? How on earth could anyone watch and not be in awe of her rule over the entire student body of East High, having sufficiently brainwashed them all into delivering spontaneous musical numbers that are just thinly disguised pro-Sharpay propaganda? We bow down.