Q & A with Lauren Elder
BB: Where did you got to college for theatre and/learn the trade in order to move to NYC to pursue theatre as a career?
LE: I was involved in a lot of theater and performing groups growing up, and took acting and dance classes at various times. I attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles right out of high school, but only for one year. After that, I attended Santa Monica College for a couple years, and was very involved in their theater department, while taking other general ed classes. I was itching to head to New York, so I applied to Circle in the Square and got accepted. I did their two year musical theater program.
BB: As far as schooling/training what were some great attributes to studying there and/or some negatives if you are willing to offer that?
LE: Circle was incredible, because they have so many teachers that offer different views and methods. It allowed me to pick and choose what worked for me, while also helping me become an adaptable performer.
BB: What is one thing that you learned while actively pursuing a NY stage career that you wish you would have known/learned before moving to the city that you could impart to others?
LE: How to crash an EPA. I didn't get an agent right out of school, so I was a little lost when I started hitting the pavement. I eventually figured it out, but it would have been nice to have the know how right away.
BB: How was the transition from going from college to pursuing a NY career?
LE: It took me a few years to find my footing. I was working so many jobs, and almost fell into a completely different career, but then I quit that, got a job waiting tables, and started going to the EPAs.
BB: How/when did you get your first Broadway job?
LE: I went to an open call in 2007 for the 40th Anniversary Concert of Hair in Central Park, and amazingly booked it! That led to a full run of the show in the park the following summer, and then the next spring, we opened on Broadway. I also got to perform the show in London's West End. It was an incredible journey.
BB: Can you offer a piece of audition advice?
LE: I've worked a bit as an audition reader in the past couple years, and it has taught me so much about what makes a good or bad audition. Being prepared is the most important part. Someone who is unprepared is just wasting everyone's time. Also enjoy yourself. This is your chance to show them how great you are! And they really do want you to do well. My attitude about auditions is, I am so excited to show them what I've got, and they are going to be so happy that I'm here. Don't get wrapped up in what you think they want, just be yourself, and make your own choices. Then you'll know you did your best and represented yourself well. And that's all you can do.
BB: What was/is your day job/other ventures in between gigs or do you do both simultaneously?
LE: I have a few things I do to keep busy and make money. As I said earlier, I sometimes work as a reader for auditions, I also teach kids sing along classes, and sometimes I babysit. To keep the creative juices flowing, I write my own music. I started doing it a few years ago when I taught myself to play the ukulele. I've got a lot of songs now, and have played shows at 54 Below and Joe's Pub. I'm also just finishing recording my debut album of these songs, which should be out in late October.
BB: Do you still train/work on your craft?
LE: Every once in a while I'll take classes, but I like to read interviews with actors and directors I look up to, and just keep active. I participate in as many readings as I can, because it keeps the acting muscle going. I also warm up my voice and sing every day. I learn new songs, and challenge myself to do things I haven't been able to do yet.
BB: Any last advice?
LE: It's a truly amazing feeling to be living my dream, I feel so grateful every day. It takes a lot of hard work and determination (and I'm not sure that ever stops), but it brings me so much joy to share what I have with the world. If you want it bad enough and work hard enough, you can live your dream too.
Lauren Elder is an actress, singer-songwriter and whistler living in New York City. She has been seen on Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Louie (FX), Law & Order (NBC), in the Broadway and West End revivals of Hair, and the Broadway revival of Side Show. She is regularly seen performing in NYC at 54 Below, LIC Bar, Birdland, and other local venues. Lauren also writes original music blending the sweet sounds of the ukulele with influences of folk, jazz and pop to create her unique, whimsical sound, which will be available this fall on her debut album. Learn more, and follow her adventures on facebook.com/lalabirdmusic and @LalabirdLauren