See if there is a way that you can ‘give to others’. This will add meaning to your career; helping them in small ways will make you feel good. The smallest act of kindness can re-energize you and help you find meaning in your work.
As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paula Lauzon. In 2015, at the age of 46, she felt that a change was necessary in her life and drove herself across the country to arrive in LA with 40 dollars in her pocket and the help of so many friends, chased her career in the Entertainment Industry and is now an Actor, Director and Producer. She recently opened her production company in the middle of a pandemic!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me!
I had begun my relationship with the Little Theatre of Fall River (LTFR) Company, by being part of the Ensemble Cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, in 2003 and Titanic-The Musical almost a decade later. After some time, I eventually became known for my role as “Aunt Eller” at the Little Theatre of Fall River’s production of R&H’s Oklahoma. My final stint with the LTFR was in the production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, where I was joined by my son, Jacob. It was during this final production, that I began doing “extra” work for a variety of films and commercials, in Boston and NYC.
Eventually, I broke in to both nationally and internationally known music videos such as, The Portuguese Kids, Thrift Shop Parody, King Lil G’s, Cold Christmas, Franz Ferdinand’s, Feel the Love, Oliver Tree’s, Miracle Man and Trisha Paytas’, What Dreams Are Made Of.
I have had roles in student films and short films, all of which have been submitted and won various awards at Film Festivals around the Country. I have also had roles in Unusual Suspects, Murder Book Mystery, VETTv, Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, and can be seen in many more various television shows and movies.
My journey of moving out to Los Angeles is good one: Armed with a dream and a vivacious personality, I had done something most middle-aged adults would find frightening and probably crazy; I have proven that taking chances is not just for 20-somethings. While still living back East, I had attended master classes with Steve Blackwood, former Bart Biederbecke, of Days of Our Lives. After approximately a year’s worth of classes, he had told me that there was nothing more he could teach me that I didn’t know and that I should head to LA. With my son’s blessing, I followed his advice. I sold or gave away what I could, packed what little was left over, into my car, and drove myself across the Country. I arrived in Los Angeles with 40 dollars in my pocket, and with the help of some very close friends, I have been able to accomplish my dream of becoming a working actress.
I had taken classes at various schools in Burbank. I very briefly studied with Anthony Montes and was also tutored by the well-regarded Brionne Davis.
Now that I’m bank on the East Coast, I love getting to the beach, because the Atlantic is my first love, as well as the seafood.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I’m not able to pinpoint one to be completely honest. What I can say is that I’ve had the greatest opportunities to work with a wide range of A-List Actors; Richard Cabral (from Mayans MC), Michael Pare’, (I was a background actor on the set of ‘Traded, directed by Timothy Woodward, Jr., who’s work I absolutely love), Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, John Stamos, Mary Steenburgen, Patrick Stewart; getting to meet and speak with John Blyth Barrymore (Drew’s brother), Claire Foy (she was just beautiful and down to earth), Kim Estes, Kate Linder, Patrika Darbo. There’s just so many. I’ve passed actors in stores, nodded to them and kept walking. I feel for me the most interesting story is being in a town where I never thought I’d be and here I am in the same supermarket as an actor I’ve seen in movies and television!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Here’s another one I’m not able to pinpoint. The past five (5) years have been a whirlwind. What I can tell you is that I’m a ‘set clown’. Growing up I’d always been silly in school; I absolutely suck at telling jokes but my sarcasm tends to leak out at times. After fifty-one (51) years you’d think I’d have it under control. As soon as I open my mouth, everyone’s asking me where in New York I’m from. I’m not. I’m from Boston. My dialect is a mix of Boston and SE Massachusetts. I’m not sure why people love it and I’m still asked to ‘pahk the cah in the yahd’. (Do people do this to Adam Sandler and Donnie Wahlberg?) There have also been times that I was given the nickname ‘Boston’ on set because it was the easiest way for them to remember and refer to me. I felt that that was always fun.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I really appreciate you bringing this question up. Things have been moving along well with the fact that I continue to audition for roles and opening my production company in the middle of a pandemic. My film slate is now at 7.6MM dollars with two (2) of the three (3) features that I’m in possession of being shopped to financiers. Being the ‘Chief Persistent Officer’, I am able to open up dialogue with a range of individuals in this industry; it’s just a matter of time before someone will actually say, ‘Yes, I’ll finance your project(s)’.
I split my time between LA and NC. Right now, I’m in the development stage of my film, ‘Inimicus’. This feature film is about a former soldier who has struggled to reintegrate into normal life after several tours of duty overseas. Despite his best efforts, his inner demons take center stage as his wife and friends try desperately to keep his PTSD from consuming his life. “Inimicus” shines a light on the very real trauma that so many of our military veterans which return from the battlefield face daily. This film offers a platform to bring this very serious issue to the screen. I am bringing awareness to the signs of PTSD and that there is help available as well as enabling the sufferers the knowledge of what tools are available for them. Family and friends of veterans will be able to see and understand their loved ones in this film. I have a private investor for this stage and have hired a consultant and screenplay writer to expand on the short film screenplay that I’m in possession of. This was my first acquisition in opening my production company. I am also seeking investors/financing to produce my film(s). HarLau Productions’ mission statement is to develop, finance, produce and distribute Feature Films and Short Films, including Web Series, that deal in various genres. This will be done by purchasing screenplays from writers around the country and possibly the globe. Writers are very good at their craft and I intend to have their stories told. HarLau Productions’ aim is to ensure that its films are viewed by mass market global audiences and to return profits to the film’s investors and all its profit participants. My intention is to be working on films that not only offer entertainment to the viewing audience but that also have a purposeful mission. As well, I have more screenplays in the pipeline with development funding, as it’s available. The process is extremely slow right now, because of the events transpiring in our nation, but I am keeping busy with advancement of screenplays and script reading to make my selections appropriately that align with my production company’s mission. I am also Executive Producing a Feature Film with a 6.5MM dollars budget with a production company located in Utah; I have been fortunate enough to have private investors in my projects; they believe in me as well as my mission statement. I feel it is key and paramount to ensure that my crew and talent are paid for their time and effort to assist with my projects that I feel have meat on the bone.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I have had opportunities to work with the individuals that I’d mentioned earlier along with being cast with some great actors who have gone on to carve out new niches for themselves in the industry; Michael Joseph Pierce, an actor that I had the pleasure to work with doing a B-Roll Commercial for Augustine Casino and again for “Gluco-Down” Commercials that is aired nationally right now. Michael is an Actor and now Writing and Producing his own content that will begin airing in April, 2021.
I got to witness first-hand how a young mind works in this industry by being cast as a background actor when I first began, for Levi Austin Morris’ “Pride of Indiana”. He’s continued to write and direct work over the years and his newest film, ‘The Tea’ is taking over Film Festivals all over the country along with WINS! I had the pleasure to be cast with with Steve Brock, Troy Hencely, Frances Chewning; too many to mention!
Being among all the creative people I’ve been fortunate enough to over the years has left me speechless. I see great things for all of these individuals.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Ensuring that the work that you do is not without purpose. So many of us go out into the world just to earn a paycheck. While I’m well-aware that we need that we also need to ensure that we’re creatively contributing to our society. How does what I do make life better for other people is what I ask myself daily.
Ensuring that you’re not overloading yourself or others around you. We tend to take on more than what we’re capable of and sometimes we forget about ourselves. I’m a firm believer that if I’m not running at 100% capacity, no one and nothing else around me will either.
See if there is a way that you can ‘give to others’. This will add meaning to your career; helping them in small ways will make you feel good. The smallest act of kindness can re-energize you and help you find meaning in your work.
Exercising regularly if you can and managing your stress. This can help alleviate stress and create a sense of well-being. You can experience increased energy and productivity when you exercise regularly and it can help you get a good night’s sleep. I don’t do any sort of exercising except walking my dog every other day. As far as the stress goes, short-term stress can contribute to burnout. Keeping a diary to document what triggers you can help; deep breathing, meditation, and so many other relaxation techniques are available.
The most important one for me is managing how I think. I have been using positive affirmations for years and find it helps me immensely. It puts me in a more positive mindset and keeps me striving for the best me I can possibly be so that I can persevere and help others as well.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I have been lucky to be where I am in five (5) short years. For me there is no such thing as the word ‘can’t’ in my vocabulary. I am extremely driven and will not take ‘no’ for an answer. You seriously need to have thick skin to be in this industry. You must be driven. You need to be business oriented as well and realize that you are the CEO of your company. YOU are the company. Keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Bring your a-game to the audition; win the audition room, respect everyone in the room, and LEAVE the audition in the room; move onto the next one; and STAY outta your head!
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
I enjoy skin care products IMMENSELY. Body lotions and face lotions are a must in my bathroom! I’m into oils right now, body oils and facial oils. I found that living in CA had dried up my skin and now being back on the East Coast, I’m catching up!
I grew up on ethnic foods in our home, consisting of fish, carbs, LOTS olive oil and LOTS of garlic. Eating healthy has ALWAYS been a challenge for me. I attempt to choose well, don’t drink in excess, (I love my gin and tonics, bourbons, white and red wines), I smoke but not a pack a day for sure. Exercise?? phhhht. I’m lucky I can get out and walk our dog the mile I may do on occasion and I know that that’s bad but honestly? I’m not looking to impress anyone. I’m content that I can wake up in the morning and as soon as my feet hit the floor, the devil says, ‘Uh oh, she’s up’.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
If I’d come into this field well over thirty (30) years ago, I’m sure I would’ve failed. I determined that when I made the jump into this industry, that I had the tools that I needed to thrive. Being a middle-aged woman with well over three (3) decades of corporate experience under my belt, I’d worked as a legal assistant and later as an administrator and business developer. Working in the legal field taught me critical problem solving and fast paced decision making as well as the value of intensive research. This has helped me immensely in learning to navigate the film world; knowing where to look for my answers, who to talk to, what events are paramount for me to be a part of. Working in business development taught me analytics. This taught me how to observe and adapt in the field and how to gauge potential. I feel that these skills have proved invaluable in my work in the film industry.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My life is a lesson. Seriously. My father, when he was alive and I was little, used to tell me to ‘look out for numbah one’. It took me all my life to understand that he meant me. So, I’ve gone through half my life making mistakes and bad choices and ensuring that I continue on the right path for myself and to make something out of my life and give back to my Community in any way that I possibly can.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ll begin by stating that my son is my number one fan, (he just made twenty-four (24 in August), and when it came time to ‘make the leap’ to LA, he held my face in his hands and told me that I needed to do me and ‘go big or go home’. He has been my cheerleader as well as my voice of reason. In the early stage of my career, I would run all types of projects by him that I’d been offered. I can remember at one point there was a reality show on the table. He told me not to do it and that if I did that it’d make my career go sideways. It’s funny now but at the time he was serious. He’s such an old soul and I absolutely love him. Someone that has helped me over the last eleven (11) years, which feels like I’ve known him all my life is a gentleman by the name of Stan Forczek; Stan is now a CEO/Consultant; Advocate, Speaker and Advisory Board Chair for the National Infrastructure Bank Legislation. We met through LinkedIn when I was in the Energy and Utilities Industry in September, 2009, after I’d asked a question in a forum on the platform; he called me to answer my question and since then, we’ve maintained a strong business relationship but more-so an extremely invaluable friendship. He has offered me guidance on many, many projects over the years as well as how to handle myself as a businesswoman and grow in the Corporate Sector. While he always tells me I’m his hero I feel that it’s his ability to convey a message to myself on the ins and outs of Corporate life that I have been able to succeed in the Entertainment Industry. I feel that he has been a great mentor to me, and I feel that he is an asset no matter where he is in his career. Another individual that I would like to thank is Mr. Steve Blackwood. For eleven (11) years, Steve played the role of ‘Bart Beiderbecke’ on ‘Days of Our Lives’. He was Stefano DeMera’s henchman. Steve was a key figure at a time in my life where I was working through a staffing agency barely making ends meet. I would scrape together money that I may have had, in order to take his classes each week or when I could and drive an hour to an hour and a half sometimes to take his Acting Classes either west of or north of Boston. (he held his classes in two (2) different locations at the time). I was terrified to be in his presence, in his class amidst creatives that knew way more than what I felt was more than I did but Steve as well as my classmates cheered me on. This man truly believed in me and told me after close to a year of taking his classes that there was no more that he could teach me that I didn’t already know. He said that I needed to go to LA and start working as an actor. He and a good friend of his, Teresa Spaulding who was also studying with him and is a terrific actor told me I was ready, and it was time. I was floored and couldn’t believe it. I went home that night and planned what I needed to do and executed it in less than five (5) months. It happened that fast. I secured a talent agent and left the following April 2015. I didn’t know where I was going to live or what job I would have but I knew that I needed to go. I had never felt calmer about making decisions and smart choices in my life except for having my son than being able to take Steve’s advice and making a decision that changed my life as well as my son’s life. The next individual I’d like to offer a special thank you to is Brionne Davis. He is an actor, a well-regarded acting teacher and is a dear friend and mentor in my life. He teaches a Cold-Read class on Saturdays at the Anthony Gilardi Acting Studio Online. Brionne saw something in me and believed in me when I was a student in his class. While I had a difficult time coming up with money for his classes as well, he allowed me to explore the craft. He offers great feedback in his classes. He serves as a mentor and teacher in his community and he is committed to his students in the work that he puts into his classes and private sessions. He was and still is a huge influence in my life.
There have also been many very close friends of mine, since I arrived in Hollywood in 2015 where I needed to put my pride aside and ask for help in certain aspects of my career as well as my personal life. Without these individuals who I can’t name but they know who they are, I can tell you I would be sleeping in a van down by the river. I feel that I have come such a long way in a short amount of time and am extremely happy with what I’ve accomplished and what I will be achieving in the very near future.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am very flattered that you feel that. I like to believe that I’m a person OF influence and many people have mentioned to me how inspirational I am to them, but how influential I am, only time will tell.
I don’t have just one answer for this because I’m the type of person who’s on the constant move about what I can do to make an impact in the industry no matter how big or small. I don’t do anything to be vainglorious. I appreciate how good it makes me feel and I find it extremely calming for me. I feel that compassion, love, education, stewardship and support are key factors in being meaningful, for me anyways. Being giving and receiving of support no matter what a person wants to do with their life. Allow your children to do what fuels their soul and feeds the fire in their bellies. You’d be surprised at how liberating this is for them and how empowered they feel. Learning and understanding right from wrong. Allowing our children to make their own choices and when they’re the wrong ones, allow them to learn to make the right choices. Be respective of your elders. (this is SO key and paramount). Learn about and understand history. Be enthusiastic about what you want to do and the impact that you want to make. Educate yourself. Read.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
This answer is three-fold:
First and foremost, would be to have lunch with my father. My father passed away on October 31, 2018, while I was watching one of our favourite movies, ‘House of Wax’, with Vincent Price. I was living in CA and my father was living in NC. We had not seen each other for well over twenty (20) years. We had a slightly estranged relationship, if that term is even possible to use. Years had gone by when he left MA, before we began writing each other and speaking on the phone. When I arrived in CA in 2015, I’d not told him that I was moving there for my career until we spoke on the phone weeks after I’d arrived. I could hear in this voice his pride and happiness. He wanted to learn all about my adventures and we’d speak every day on the phone for close to two (2) weeks straight. For me this was a turning point in my life, about forgiveness for the choices that he made as well as myself. Towards the end of his life, he’d been in and out of the hospital, on and off a ventilator to help him breathe and he was so tired of it and the doctor and I spoke about the best course of action for him. I didn’t want to be selfish about the possibility of seeing him again, let alone hugging him, which I hadn’t done if forever, and I needed to allow him to no longer suffer and pass on with his dignity. That last weekend, he’d gone back to the Assisted Living Care facility and passed peacefully, with what I learned later, a smile on his face. He came into this world with nothing and left with his dignity. We had always told each other we loved each other at the end of our conversations but we never said ‘goodbye’. He never let me say that. He would end our conversation with until next time.
The second person I’d love to have lunch with is Clint Eastwood. My father taught me about him and his films, specifically his Spaghetti Westerns. I’d spent a better part of my life and more recently learning more about him; his acting, his directing. I would absolutely LOVE to shadow that man on set as he is directing. I would really like to be able to sit with him for a while and pick his brain about the Industry back then and now.
The third person is Sophia Loren. I found her also to be a very big influence in my life. My mother was from the old country and followed her for years in her films. When my mother was not under the influence, she would dress to the nines like her, style her hair like her, do her makeup very close to hers. I learned a lot about that from her when I was young. I would absolutely love to sit with Ms. Loren and talk to her about the industry back then and now as well asking her about hers and it’s impact on her impact on people such as myself and my mother.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can go to my website: https://www.paulalauzon.com/
In the upper left-hand corner are links to my social media platforms where they can connect with me, etc.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thank you so much for offering me your platform to introduce myself. I really enjoyed this and thank you for your well-wishes.