I would love to inspire people to demonstrate more kindness, compassion and empathy for each other and extend that to animals. I would love to live in a world where no one hurts anyone but especially animals.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lauren White.
Lauren White is an American actress and producer you might recognize for one of her many comedic roles, including, Lacey, opposite Amy Poehler and Adam Scott on “Parks and Recreation.”
She’s also been praised for her work as a Primetime Emmy® Contender; a content creator; actress on “House of Cards” and the upcoming HBO Max pilot, “Delilah.”
She is Baltimore born and her passion is making people laugh. The goal of her career and projects is not only to spread joy, but to alleviate loneliness and suffering through her relatable performances.
She loves animals and volunteers with Mutts Matter Rescue to transport, foster and facilitate adoptions. She even rescued an injured [wild] squirrel, Sammy — Sammy learned to trust her so much that when Lauren called, Sammy came to sit on her shoulder!
From quarantine, Lauren recently created and produced the viral PSA, “Covid-19: Stop Spreading That Sh*t,” which can be seen on IGTV and YouTube
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you, my pleasure!
I grew up showing dogs, riding horses and performing for family as a child, most “notably”, creating and producing my own television show, Way Cool, using a VHS camcorder. I forced my friend, Michelle, who lived down the road, (and was very shy) to participate. She was such a good sport. . . and yes, my parents still have the Way Cool tape.
My ardor for making people smile and entertaining grew with theater performances and on-screen work, as I went from high school to college and beyond.
When it’s in your bones, you just can’t deny your passion!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always loved making people laugh (and laughing!) If I bring 30 seconds of joy, levity or connection to someone, I’m fulfilling my purpose.
The turning point from hobby to career was when I was invited to guest host for QVC. I had to submit a product pitch to be “approved” by the network. That pitch inspired the “Power Curl 3000” on the [made-up] Tough Guy Shopping Network™ — A friend and I, using a very regular curling iron, created an entire parody of a home shopping channel (that catered to Tough Guys) and shared a curling iron for men. Yes, it was ridiculous and yes, it was ridiculously fun to shoot. Thankfully, QVC must’ve been amused because I got the job!
Creating the Power Curl sketch really stoked the fire and lead to my first sketch series, Little Bits.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most interesting things about this business is that you never know….well, much. You think you booked it; they go in another direction. You think you bombed the audition; you book the job. I literally can’t even count how many times I auditioned for House of Cards….the show went through at least 4 different casting directors, 5+ years and 70 episodes before I booked. I wish I had tracked how many characters, auditions and callbacks because I would surmise it was, at a minimum, 25.
A lot of people get discouraged or think something is wrong with not booking in 5 years but, in reality, the show and casting folks liked what I was doing and liked me; they just couldn’t quite find the right fit for me on the show. If they didn’t like what I was doing, they wouldn’t have continued to give me opportunities to be on the show. The real takeaways are persistence, dedication and stay positive.
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?
I don’t know if it was a mistake, per se, but what comes to mind is when I had an audition where the character was a stripper. I teased my hair, put on heavy makeup, a tank top with hot pink bra straps sticking out, ridiculously high heels, you know, everything I could to “look the part”. After my audition, casting asked me to stick around and read for another part — a banker. [laughs]
Guess which role I booked? The heavy makeup wearing, hot pink bra wearing banker.
The lesson that taught me is that you really are the part or you’re not. It doesn’t matter what you wear or how you style your hair, if the part is yours, it’s yours! If you’re curious to see this in action, check out the audition tapes for Lost!
…and, I figure, those moments are fodder for your E! True Hollywood story!
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 certainly would not be where I am without my mom and stepfather. My mom used to drive me to horse shows, dog shows, all the activities, regardless of any of the 800 other things she had to do. She made sure to find me medical treatment in spite of doctors saying nothing was wrong. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for my mom….for multiple reasons!
My mom and stepfather were always so supportive of the outside-the-box things I did and allowed me to create a unique path. There was one person, specifically, who told me I needed to “get a real job” and “use my degrees” but it was never my awesome, loving parents. I‘m sure they worried about me, because, well, they’re parents, but they had faith and trusted I would make the best decisions possible. I think it’s safe to say they no longer have to worry! (…but probably still do, cause, you know, they’re parents!)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize and thank the legendary Pat Moran and her associates, Scott, Chuck and Emily. They gave me an opportunity to (and I did) book my first network television show. With that opportunity, I was able to learn from incredibly talented people and a director who put me through the paces — changing lines, adding lines, changing blocking, camera positions — it was better than a masterclass! I will always be grateful for that opportunity and experience.
You have been blessed with great 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?
Expect failure . . .but don’t let it stop you. Every person, I am aware of, who is or has been successful has failed. I believe the key is learning from it and to keep going. It’s definitely a lot easier said than done, but it really is the truth.
When you were in 1st grade, it was probably hard. When you were in 5th grade, 1st grade seemed easy but now 5th grade was hard. When you moved to 8th grade, 5th grade seemed easy… see the pattern? If we keep going, eventually “it” won’t be quite so hard….and then there will be a new (exciting?) challenge which seems hard!
Also, what people think of you, isn’t your business. There will be people who don’t like you, don’t jive with your work or are just jerks for no apparent reason. Do not buy into whatever it is they’re saying or doing. Stay in your integrity, stay positive, stay kind and, as long as you aren’t hurting anything, keep on keepin’ on.
What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film?
Whether it’s complimenting the barista at the coffee shop, remembering the security guard’s name at a red carpet event or people telling me they laughed watching me on a Netflix rerun of Parks and Recreation, making someone smile and feel “seen” is the best feeling in the world. I am so grateful to be able to do that on a larger scale (my work reaches more people than I personally could in a day).
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I have a couple things in the pipeline but, with the state of the world, timelines are a bit uncertain. One really fun project [that wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic] was the PSA I created entirely in quarantine: Covid-19: Stop Spreading That Sh*t: This homegrown — literally, at home — project started going viral on Instagram and even garnered buzz in the press!
I’m also in development on a podcast which will be coming soon. I am excited to share that with you when I’m able to reveal more!
Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
Danny Zuker (writer and producer Modern Family) once mentioned “acclimating” using tv. Specifically, when Modern Family began, instead of telling their audience what to think about a gay couple on the show, they focused storylines on the struggles of a couple with a newborn…who also happened to be gay. He said instead of telling people how to think or feel, it created a place where people could relate to gay couples and found common ground, which changed the view of gay couples for many people.
Dany Levy was asked why he didn’t focus on the issues gay people face in episodes of Schitt’s Creek. He responded that he wants a world where gay and straight couples are the same…and that’s the world he showed us. He figured out that by, using the medium of television, making things “normal” on a show, people would enjoy the show and begin to see those things and people as “normal”.
I’m paraphrasing but that struck me as such a wonderful concept. I love the idea of creating and showing the world you want to live in — being the change you want to see — and making it the new normal by way of entertaining.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Trust your gut. If your intuition tells you not to do something — even if you can’t find a logical reason to decline — turn it down. I’ve come to realize that if I get an inclination to do or, more specifically, not do something, it’s usually correct.
- Never take it personally. You can be the “best” actor and lose the role because it was cut out of the script, it went to the producer’s cousin, a celebrity said yes or you look too much like the director’s ex (they don’t want that reminder every time they look at you on set)! I booked a feature film and when I got to set, they decided they wanted the director’s sister for that part instead.I also worked on a commercial where I had to walk up and hand something to a woman sitting at a desk. We did one take and they decided that the woman looked too similar to me, so they had one of the extras replace her. My heart went out to that actress because she was cut and she didn’t do anything wrong.
- Acting for auditions is completely different than acting on set. This was such a revelation and a game changer when I learned how to craft performances for an audition instead of acting as if it were being shot as a scene. If there is one thing I would tell newer actors — take an audition technique class and practice, practice, practice on camera.
- Trust people but take care of yourself.
- Be you. I would wager a guess that every actor, at one time or another, has looked at a script and thought, “what do they want?” or “what are they looking for?” The truth is, “they” really don’t know until they see you! Instead of wasting time and worrying if you’re doing it “right” or giving them “what they want”, show them YOU. How do you infuse yourself into that scene? How would you react to those circumstances? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be homework and choices — you absolutely should break down the scene, make strong choices and find the writer’s intention based on the text. But, if it states something like “she begins to cry at the funeral” don’t think you won’t book the job because you began to laugh. Grief is a weird thing and people sometimes laugh when they’re nervous. . .so maybe the team watching your audition has an epiphany when they see your performance and you book the job because of it! You never know! That’s probably a terrible example but hopefully you get the idea!
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? Please share a story for each one if you can.
How much time do you have?
Meditate. It will help keep you sane! Whether it’s just sitting quietly for a few minutes and breathing, journaling or an hour of guided meditation, taking a break from believing our thoughts is crucial.
Drink lots of water! I had no idea how little I was drinking until I learned my kidneys needed more water. I just thought I really liked chapstick…
I now have a metal 64 oz bottle — eliminate single use plastics! — I fill in the morning and make sure to drink at least that much every day. It’s actually very easy to consume that (and more) each day with a pre-filled bottle. I can’t promise it will make a difference for you, but my skin is more hydrated than ever and I hardly use chapstick anymore!
I have also found the benefits of pH balancing! It’s kind of a miracle. Along with turmeric….and vitamin D3….and plant-based Omegas….and colloidal silver…
I can probably summate all of that with: Taking care of your mind and body is a number one priority. If you aren’t taking care of your mind and body, you will burn out and rob yourself the joy of the journey. If you create healthy habits as you go, it will be easier to manage “all the things” as they’re thrown at you. How do you make a million dollars? Start by making 1 dollar. It’s the same with your mental and physical health…or probably any habit. This doesn’t mean sign up for CrossFit or live with Tibetan monks for a year — take baby steps to start — take a walk down your driveway or close your eyes and breath deeply for 3 minutes. Whatever “starting” is for you begins to build the habit.
I’m also a huge proponent of animals and their innumerable benefits. It’s been proven that pets lower blood pressure, anxiety and stress among other things. I have two rescued pups, Lucy and Suzie, who make me smile all the time. Between their very distinct personalities and the weirdo behaviors they sometimes exhibit, I can’t help but laugh. There are also the snuggles that warm my heart as well as love and companionship. Since they’re older and Suz is handicapable, my mom sent us a stroller. Now we can go on even longer walks than we used to…which is great for all our physical and mental health! …and yes, I am that lady pushing two [adorable] dogs in a stroller. #sorrynotsorry
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It sounds corny but “Live. Laugh. Love.” I think that you should do the things that bring you joy and live life to the fullest. I heard a lot of older people regret not trying things or wish they had traveled to new places. It’s better to laugh at the ridiculous thing that happened because you tried rather than wonder about it or wish you had.
Laughter truly is the best medicine. Nothing brings people together like a smile or a laugh.
Another bridge between people is love. I don’t necessarily mean romantic love but just a warmth and kindness. I remember being out shopping and seeing someone go to the checkout line and another person flip out because she “was in line” (she actually wasn’t). The person who accidentally “cut the line” reacted with such kindness and love in the face of the other person making a fuss. I was shocked to see the “fuss-maker” keep overreacting as if it were a personal affront…..after everyone had checked out, the “fuss-maker” approach the “line cutter” in the parking lot and told her that she was a truly special person. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Just by being kind and not reacting to the fuss, that “fuss maker” changed her entire attitude. I think the world would be a different place if we could all love like that.
Do I have to pick one? [laughs]
Another is from Robert Kiyosaki, “If you want to go somewhere, it is best to find someone who has already been there.”
This is so true — learn from people who have already achieved the things you want to achieve. While everyone’s journey is different, their experience can help us navigate and anticipate challenges along the way. They also show us how they used failure to move forward and find their success. In my experience, many people are more than happy to share their wisdom!
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
That is so kind of you, thank you. I would love to inspire people to demonstrate more kindness, compassion and empathy for each other and extend that to animals. I would love to live in a world where no one hurts anyone but especially animals.
Whether it’s skip meat one day a week (#MeatlessMonday) or providing a foster home to a cat, giving a smidge of love to our non-human friends makes such a huge impact on our planet and in our lives.
Plus, it’s free to be kind! …and extremely rewarding.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
That’s so sweet of you! This is really tough because there are a few!
Amy Poehler — I admire her so much as performer, producer and role model. The difference she’s made in “discovering” new talent and bringing their comedy to the screen as well as advising young women via Smart Girls. . . all while raising her own kids! She’s such an inspiration for what can be done — she’s doing it all!
Danny McBride — I’d love to talk with him about (and commend him for) the ridiculous but grounded characters he writes/plays as well as navigating major success living outside of a major metropolitan
Adam Sandler — I heard he has an unbeatable work ethic; I admire him keeping his community and family involved in all his projects. He’s also been in the comedy game so long; I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge he’d have to share. Honestly, just listening to his stories would be incredible!
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram — http://www.instagram.com/MsLaurenWhite @MsLaurenWhite
Twitter — https://twitter.com/Ms_Lauren_White @Ms_Lauren_White
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/MsLaurenWhite
YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/LaurenWhite
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you! This was a blast!