Meet the Cast – Lauren Lakis as Devon

What motivated you to become an actress?

I became an actress by accident! I was mostly interested in Photography throughout high school and planned on focusing on Studio Art/Photo while at Goucher College in my hometown of Baltimore. I needed to fill one more elective one fateful semester, and I chose Acting I, for the heck of it. Well, I absolutely fell in love with it! It was a brand new way of expressing my humanity…and I was hooked. I had done plays as a kid, like everyone probably, but this time around it affected me in a much deeper way.

Lauren Lakis plays Devon in Other Halves

Maybe two weeks into the class, I chose to overload myself with credits so I could minor in Theatre alongside my Photo major. Once I graduated, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to move out to LA and pursue it as a career…I had also been bitten by the travel bug and I wanted to live in foreign countries just as bad as I wanted to act. So, I moved to Prague, Czech Republic for a few months, following that with a few months in Tokyo, Japan.

I was mostly living like a total expat/vagabond, teaching english under-the-table in random cafes…but while in Tokyo, I decided to register with a few talent agencies to see what kind of acting work was available to me. I ended up spending all my time auditioning and working a LOT, but I was miserable in the city itself (Lost in Translation, anyone?). That was the major point when I decided to move to LA and do it in a serious way. I haven’t looked back since!

What sort of training do you have?

I studied Theatre in college, and not just acting, but the production side as well. In LA I’ve trained at Anthony Meindl’s Studio. But honestly, the best training for me has been the intense amount of self-work I’ve done, a series of attitude adjustments and an openness to new perspectives.

I also think my Photography experience has helped tremendously…I have a knack for reading people. The best “training” has been the ongoing willingness to courageously put myself out there in the world.

What was your first role?

Lauren Lakis as Taliyah in China White

Lauren Lakis as Taliyah in China White

My first major film role was playing ‘Taliyah’ in the feature film China White. I shot that while still in school in Baltimore, and let me tell you, it is a VERY Baltimore film. (If you’ve ever watched The Wire, you’ll know what I mean!) My character was VERY fun to play, she’s a coke head party girl with a sharp sense of humor…ballsy, outspoken, and manipulative but with the best intentions. I savored each moment on that set and am still friends with everyone involved, it was a special experience.

In college, I focused mostly on stage acting, but I felt like there was a realism and an honesty that I wasn’t quite tapping into, the way I could with film. Film acting was freeing, and it came naturally to me, it almost felt too easy because I was so comfortable with it.

I believe my first stage role was when I was 7 or 8 years old, playing ‘Violet’ (the one who turns into a blueberry) in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My cousin played an Oompa Loompa. SO FUN.

What other projects are you particularly proud of?

I’m proud of another feature film I shot in Maryland (strangely enough I was already living in Los Angeles, but traveled there to shoot!) called ROWS. It’s inspired by Grimm’s tales and is about two girls, Rose and Greta (I play Greta), who are put under a spell by a local witch. We become lost in a repeat series of events, mostly involving an unending corn field, until we figure out how to break the spell (or do we?).

Lauren Lakis as Greta in Rows

Lauren Lakis as Greta in Rows

I also shot a super secret feature film earlier this year (with much of it having been shot in San Francisco, hello coincidence!) with a big name director who I mustn’t mention…it’s the story of a 16 year old boy who having grown up Jehovah’s Witness all his life, begins to question his entire existence. I play that boy’s cousin ‘Karen’ and I introduce him to punk rock and awaken his sexuality (yes I know, cousins are not supposed to do that!). I cannot wait until it’s not a secret anymore!

How do you think those roles prepared you to play Devon in Other Halves?

Every role prepares me for the next; every role is like a little tool I carry around with me in my toolbox. Same goes for everything I experience in my actual life too. I don’t think there is any one role that could prepare me for Devon, it’s a cumulative effect.

What drew you to the character initially?

Devon is whip-smart, playful, down to earth, goes with the flow, doesn’t take anything personally, or herself too seriously. She is hyper aware and doesn’t miss a beat. I would want to be friends with her in real life! I know she would always have my back if we were friends. I admire her character as well, she’s the type of person we should all aspire to be more like.

How do you approach portraying a character?

The first thing I do is figure out how much of myself is in the character, and it’s usually quite a bit. I can imagine what I would do, how I would behave in that situation; that way I keep it very grounded and real. I don’t have to ‘act’ if I’m letting myself simply ‘be’ in the circumstance. If I ever feel like I’m ‘acting’, I know I’ve lost the magic.

Lauren Lakis

Lauren Lakis

For the most part, unless I’m doing a period piece or something where a character is SO off-the-wall bizarre, I can relax into just being in the circumstance of the character. Staying present, truly listening to what is being said to me and allowing myself to react honestly, are paramount in my performances. A lot of actors think they need to be doing a lot, instead of just being. When you can see that an actor is putting on a show, it becomes inauthentic and not very compelling to watch.

With Devon, the major difference between her and any character I’ve played, or between her and my actual self, is that she is very tech-savvy. To prepare for Devon I’ll have to research a little bit about app/web development, and what it’s like to work in that field. Devon also has a lot of opportunities to get physical in this film, so maybe I’ll start working out, ha!

Do you have other projects that you enjoy working on?

I’m a musician as well as an actress! I love making music and can’t imagine NOT doing it. My current band is SHUNN, it’s an electro-synth-pop project that my friend Paul and I started. It’s just the two of us, so I’m able to have a ton of creative input, which I love. We have some demo tracks on Soundcloud and will start playing out soon.

Hobart W. Fink

Hobart W. Fink

My old band that I was in before SHUNN, is called Hobart W Fink. We released a full length album called , which I’m very proud of. I’ve only been doing music seriously for a little over a year now, and it was very cool to be able to hold a physical album in my hands as a result of all the hard work!

We released a full length album called Back & Forth Forever (available on Spotify), which I’m very proud of. I’ve only been doing music seriously for a little over a year now, and it was very cool to be able to hold a physical album in my hands as a result of all the hard work!

I’m still a photographer as well, but I don’t get to do shoots nearly as much as I would like to. I tend to just shoot head shots for all my actor friends in my spare time! Oh, Los Angeles living.

How are you feeling about Other Halves, now that you’ve had a table read with the rest of the cast?

There is SO MUCH TALENT attached to this project. I’m totally confident we are going to make a brilliant and engaging film! And everyone is very sweet, I can already tell I’m going to miss everyone and be so bummed when it’s over!