Lauren LaStrada, is a professional actress, singer, ordained minister and published author who studied classical piano, violin, French horn, competitive figure skating and is a former student of the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. She’s also the leading lady in the new movie Wild Faith. She does a fabulous job as Haddie, a freed slave struggling to find her place during the Reconstruction era.
When did you first discover a love for acting?
I was bit by the bug in 2003, when I did my first stage play. The play was The Game of Love and Chance by playwright Pierre de Mariveux. I played the role of the sultry French maid “Lisette”. It was my first opportunity to use an accent while performing too! So, I was double excited.
What was your first acting role?
A commercial for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. I went into the audition with a case of full blown stomach flu. But I was so determined to make the audition, I went anyway and booked it.
I love both, but prefer film. It’s less pressure, in my opinion. Theater is great for keeping up your acting chops. It’s excellent training in my opinion. Theater actors always made better film actors in my opinion. However, you only get one shot in theater, each night on stage. There is no “Action” or “Cut” in theater. When the stage manager sticks their head in your dressing room and says “Places”, you better be ready. This means no more rehearsals, no breaks. It’s time! Get it right, don’t miss cues, hit all your blocking, remember all your lines, and make sure you know your lines, and the other actors lines, well enough to pick up the ball if somebody drops it. Stay focused and extremely concentrated. Patrons don’t mind answering a cell phone in the middle of your monologue. Don’t get sick or distracted and don’t die! Because the show must go on. Seriously, like if you die, they’ll just call the understudy.
My role in Wild Faith was a blessing. I can’t say it any other way. Great cast, story and work environment. It’s also a very well written depiction of a black woman’s plight for restoration of faith and an unexpected journey of love beyond color lines, especially during a time of intense racism and segregation, ‘Reconstruction’. It’s a known fact in Hollywood that the majority of writers don’t write for black women or don’t know how, without adding some unnecessary stereotype. I couldn’t have written a better character for the role of Haddie, and I am a black woman. Writer DJ Perry definitely tapped into his inner ‘sista’. Hats off to him.
Such a challenging role! How are you like Haddie?
I’m a born again believer, who is also an ordained minister. So, like her, I have a personal relationship and prayer life where I’m very open and transparent with God, like Haddie is. But, Haddie is still growing in areas that I’ve past through already in my real life. That helped me to understand where she is mentally and emotionally while filming, because I’ve been there already. Areas like putting your trust in God in what appears to be a hopeless circumstance and also trusting God to help you through other people. That can be really hard sometimes, if you’re a ‘Do It Yourself’ kind of person like Haddie is. Or, looking past a man’s outer appearance and instead seeing the content of his character. Most of all, I’ve learned how to forgive, and by the end…so has Haddie.
How are you different?
What would be your dream role to play?
This one’s pretty high up on the list. It’s action, history, drama and romance all wrapped up in one role. No debauchery. That allows me to sleep at night.
Do you have any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?
Yes, thanks for asking. I will be starring as famed and tragic Jazz legend “Billie Holiday” in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grille by playwright Laney Robertson. This one-woman show will run for the three weekends in July at The Music Hall in Downtown Detroit, Michigan. It’s a very raw and genuine depiction of one of her last shows a few years before her death, after her New York club license was taken away from her, for a drug charge. The show features twelve of her most memorable songs, sung by me as the actress, and dialogue. Music provided by Alvin Waddles on piano, as “Jimmy”.
Acting is reacting. But, its also a reflection of real life in imaginary circumstances. So, if you haven’t lived or are not allowing you to live…your work as an actor won’t resonate with the audience as well. I no longer do this for fame or fortune. That’s fleeting and without substance. I do it to be used for a message and/or great storytelling. God is big enough to speak through anybody, anywhere, anyhow and anytime.