The ingenue, a French term literally meaning “innocent,” is a film character who epitomizes sensuality and vulnerability. Typically, the Ingenue is a young girl or virgin.

The term is used in film to describe a young actress who plays this part, as well as her character type. The main purpose of the role of the Ingenue is to develop the plot and move along the story by adding an emotional element to it. Therefore, she is usually involved in the love storyline and romance of the film.

The innocent girl or woman has been a consistent character since silent films were first produced. Since then, her character archetype has been modified with evolving cultural roles and expectations of women.

There are two major types of ingenues:

  • the romantic, and
  • the tomboy.



What Is An Ingenue?

An ingenue is a stock character in literature, film, and a role type in the theater. An ingenue is generally a girl or a young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome.

The word comes from the French word ingénue, which means “ingenuous” or innocent, virtuous, and candid. The term may also imply a lack of cunning or guile.



What Is The Ingenue In Film?

The ingenue is the movie equivalent of a flower; she symbolizes purity and innocence.

Generally, this pretty young actress becomes the object of affection for one or more characters.

In some circumstances, the ingenue is an older woman who appears to be younger than she really is. The term “ingenue” comes from French, meaning “innocent” or “naive.”

The term was first used in the movie industry in the 1930s. It refers to a young actress who has little experience in film and theater. The character usually has a lovely face and a sweet demeanor and serves as a contrast to more experienced actresses in the cast. In some cases, the ingenue will have an evil twin whose behavior contrasts with that of the naive character.

Many actresses begin their careers playing ingenues, including Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Jodie Foster, and Natalie Wood. Many actors have also played this role early in their careers, including Cary Grant and Marlon Brando.[1]

In recent years, digital effects have made it easier for moviemakers to compose scenes with an attractive actress without necessarily having to use a real-life ingenue.[2]

Ingenues are generally young leading ladies who give off an innocent appeal to their fans. Some

The ingenue is a young actress who is introduced to the audience in a key role, often as a romantic interest, who has a starring or major supporting role in the film.

The word “Ingénue” comes from French, meaning “naive”, and was first used in the late 1800s by French dramatist Octave Feuillet to describe his plays about innocent young girls. It is also the source of the English word “ingénue”. The Académie française defines the term as “a young actress taking her first steps on the stage”, but it is commonly used to refer to actresses in their early years of their career.

The term has since become closely associated with actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, whose youthful looks have remained long after their heyday on screen. It can also be applied to males: James Stewart is frequently cited as an American example, while British examples include Cary Grant and Albert Finney.

Ingénues are often placed in the role of a love interest – or potential love interest – and they may be introduced as such, but they rarely have a large part to play in the plot.


They are often characterized by their lack of sophistication compared to their male counterparts and have the physical appearance of being younger than the age of puberty.

In modern films, however, actresses known for playing ingénues have tended to be in their late teens or early twenties while those portraying teenagers tend to be younger.

Modern examples of ingenues include:

  • Anne Hathaway,
  • Kirsten Dunst,
  • Natalie Portman,
  • Kristen Stewart,
  • Emma Watson,
  • Scarlett Johansson,
  • Elle Fanning,
  • Hailee Steinfeld,
  • Haley Lu Richardson,
  • Emma Roberts, and
  • Abigail Breslin.

Ingenue In The Film Industry

Ingenue has been around since the silent film era, which is a pretty long time to have an identity crisis.

Taken from the French word for “young woman,” the ingenue was originally defined by her youth and naiveté; she was a girl who didn’t know what was happening around her, who was easily led astray by men and other dangerous influences. The term carried over into Hollywood as a way to describe an actress who played a young, innocent, virginal type of character.

The problem is that ingenues are rarely virgins and never innocent, which makes them seem like a relic of another era — and in many ways they are. Yet they continue to exist in Hollywood today, even if they’re not always called ingenues.

Every generation has its crop of ingénues: fresh-faced girls with little acting experience who play a character younger than they are but are actually older than their character. They’re less worldly, less experienced and more vulnerable than the actresses playing their mothers or grandmothers. Their characters tend to be on the periphery of the story, and their lives revolve around the men in their lives — fathers, brothers, boyfriends — rather than themselves. In fact, there’s usually only one thing about

The role of the ingenue was most commonly a secondary part, given to a young actress who was willing to be cast in a supporting or even a bit part. The term has often been used for an actress who is particularly young and inexperienced (and thus suitable for secondary roles), such as Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables (1934) or Esther Smith in Esther Smith Says It’s So (1953). Similar roles are also often taken by child actresses, such as Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon (1973) or Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional (1994).[2] In some cases, the ingenue is essentially playing herself; examples include Audrey Hepburn in War and Peace (1956), Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby (1968)[3] and Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver (1976).[4]

Ingenuer roles are very often romantic ones; indeed, many films have featured an ingenue who falls in love with someone who is significantly older than herself, sometimes decades older.[5] This sort of role can be seen as a logical extension of the basic concept of the ingénue. However, this does not have to be so. In many cases, the character may simply be an innocent young woman thrown

The Ingenue In Popular Culture

Ladies, have you ever felt objectified?

Have you ever been assigned to a category because of your gender?

Have you ever felt like the world only sees you as a stereotype?

The Ingenue knows the feeling. She is all too familiar with being pigeonholed, categorized, and judged based on her appearance. She has been reduced to nothing more than a pretty face and a pair of perky breasts. She is constantly underestimated and undervalued.

On the outside, she appears shy and delicate, but inside, she is anything but. The Ingenue is strong, confident, and intelligent.

She is talented and ambitious. She is bossy and sassy. And sometimes she can be cranky or even ‘bitchy’ — but only when provoked (and even then, she’s still adorable).

The Ingenue breaks stereotypes about women every day. She proves that looks can be deceiving because she’s more than what meets the eye.

She’s a fighter who pushes through obstacles to achieve her goals. She conquers obstacles by being herself — flaws and all — and inspiring others to do the same.

The Ingenue isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd; in fact, that’s what makes her special! She embraces her flaws, also.

In some countries such as South Korea, China, and Japan, the term is used more loosely to refer to any young woman. In Japan, it can mean “sexy-cute”, or even a red-light district lookalike.

The Ingenue Throughout Cinema History

Although there is no specific type of women that is an ingénue, there are a few characteristics that are essential to the role. For example, an ingénue is typically naive and innocent. She may have been sheltered her whole life or she may come from a home that has high expectations for her future, such as royalty. The innocence of the ingénue allows her to act in ways that others would consider scandalous with little fear of the consequences.

Towards the end of the movie, the young woman usually learns from her new experiences and becomes more mature. This transformation can be a source of conflict within the story or it can be a catalyst for change in another character’s life. An example of this is seen in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), where an age difference between Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) and Captain Walter Raleigh (Errol Flynn) causes tension between them. As their relationship progresses, Elizabeth begins to see Raleigh as a younger version of herself. She begins to act more responsibly and determines that she must choose between her love for Raleigh and her responsibilities to England. Despite their age difference, they share many similar characteristics that allow them to understand each other on a deeper level

Famous Ingenues In Films

Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, and Audrey Hepburn are just a few of the many actresses that have played the role of ingenue. But what exactly is an ingenue? The meaning behind this term has changed over time and differs depending on whom you ask.

Taken from a French term meaning “innocent,” an ingenue is typically referred to as a young actress who plays a supporting role in a film. She is often portrayed as being sweet, naive, and beautiful, but the significance of these traits changes with time.

For example, in the 1930s, actresses like Jeanette MacDonald were portrayed as innocent young women with high voices and modest dresses who eventually fell in love with their male counterparts. By the 1950s, however, actresses like Marilyn Monroe helped to redefine the role of the ingenue by portraying them as more independent and sexually mature than their predecessors. This change in definition continued into the 1960s and ’70s when actresses like Jane Fonda began playing more complex roles that made them less dependent on their male counterparts.

An ingenue (from French “Ingénue” meaning “ingenuous” or “artless”) is a young actress or actor who plays roles typically suitable for a girl or boy of the same age. The term is primarily used in the United States, where it originated in theater. In recent years, the definition has expanded to include young women in film and television. In the past, ingenue roles were usually played by actresses who were in their teens, but during the 1930s, these roles began to be played by women in their early twenties.

In American theater, an ingenue is a female supporting character that is often young and unmarried. The word comes from French meaning “ingénue”, which means naïve or innocent. An ingenue character is usually female and very attractive. The male equivalent of an ingenue is sometimes called an ingénu.

Examples of famous ingenues are:

  • Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).
  • Hedy Lamarr as Samson Raphaelson’s screenwriter wife in Boom Town (1940).
  • Kim Novak as Susie Diamond in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955).
  • Jodie Foster as Iris Steensma in Taxi Driver (1976).

What Is An Ingenue – Wrapping Up

You now know what the ingenue is, and how it can be both a good and a bad thing depending on how you use it. Now that you’ve got this under your belt, here are some quick tips to keep in mind when shopping for candidates to bring on as new recruits:

  • The Ingenue often likes to be helpful, so they tend to be great at customer service. Teaching them the ropes will probably be pretty easy.
  • The Ingenue has a lot of passion for what they do, but this can also lead to problems. They need structure and discipline to follow through with their work, and if they don’t get it you may find yourself having to repeat yourself constantly.
  • The Ingenue puts all their effort into everything they do. That’s both good and bad — the good is that they’ll put in a lot of effort into your project. The bad is that if you give them too much work or work that’s too difficult for them, then they won’t do everything you ask and may make mistakes because of it.

As we’ve covered, an ingenue is a youthful and naive character. She is very trusting of others, perhaps to a fault. She looks up to more worldly characters and wants to be perceived as an adult by her peers.

An ingenue will always have a tragic flaw, which will endear her character to the audience. Often she is playful but can also be just as serious as any other role if the play calls for it.