After roles in films, on stage, on TV and her own podcast, the forever-versatile talent lets us know that she is adding directing to the mix.
Photography by Ella Mettler
Not one to shy away from trying something new, Lauren Elizabeth Harris began her career studying drama, a choice that catapulted her across the globe, from California, France and UK to everywhere in between. Leaving her mark on our screens with the feminist web series, It’s a Girl Thing, which awarded Harris a warm reception from critics worldwide. A keen advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, Harris has made it her mission to fight for more female and non-binary-led plays, a project that joins an already-extensive list of accolades. Her hysterical podcast “Damsels in the DMs” puts modern-day dating under the microscope resulting in something we can all relate to and proving once more that she is a multi-facet worthy of the name.
And now, to top it all off, Harris is trying her hand at directing. After dabbling in the behind-the-scenes side of filmmaking in It’s a Girl Thing, Harris is presenting her directorial debut, “Defining Dodo”. A short film that explores the impact of coming out in a machismo culture. Head below to enjoy Lauren Elizabeth Harris talking all things her diverse career…
Photography by France and Jessie
Hey Lauren, how are you? How has this past year been?
I am doing well! This year has been full of exciting changes and new opportunities, and I’m excited to continue with the momentum built!
And the pandemic, everyone picked up some unusual skills, did you try anything new?
I randomly learned how to make “ice necklaces” – everyone’s favourite summer activity, haha! It was actually for an audition, but is now my new favourite party trick!
How did you first get into acting, what sparked your interest?
I’ve wanted to go into acting since I was 5 years old when I played Strega Nona in my kindergarten play. I love the idea of walking in someone else’s shoes and bringing someone’s story to light who could potentially have an important effect on society.
And you’ve done both the stage and film, which one do you prefer?
I love both but prefer film. I love how you can reach a wider audience base with film, and also all the behind-the-scenes work that filmmaking entails, which allows me to wear multiple hats. Theatre will always hold a special place in my heart, though!
You also starred in the web series It’s a Girl Thing, what was the experience like? How did you get into the series?
I was studying at The British American Drama Academy when my dear friend, Augusta Mariano, approached me about working on a web series that would take a look at millennial dating culture and the issues that come as a result of that that have a tremendous negative impact on young women but were not necessarily spoken about in the Me Too movement. She directed, I wrote, we both acted and produced, and it went on to win awards in 15 international festivals. It was a phenomenal first filmmaking experience, I really couldn’t have asked for a better one, and we’re working to continue to develop it into a series beyond the pilot we filmed.
And now you’re making your directing debut with Defining Dodo, tell us about your experience.
I directed Defining Dodo right before the pandemic, in January of 2020. It’s about someone coming out while having been raised in a Machismo culture, and it won the LGBTQ Voices Award at the HBO Sponsored Official Latino Festival. It was an incredible experience, and it was very important to my co-producer, Alejandro Valtierra, and me to represent this experience authentically. We even had the chance to use an LGBTQIA+ Mariachi Band to complete the experience!
What made you get into directing – why the change?
I wanted to experience all facets of the filmmaking industry to know what I liked, and what I excelled at. Through my experience, I learned that acting and producing are the main careers I want to focus on, along with writing some pilots that are personal to my experiences.
It’s about human trafficking as well, why did you decide to focus on this?
Human trafficking is a major problem occurring all over the world, including outside of the Philadelphia area, where I grew up, in an area called Kensington. My incredible co-producer, Kirstin Pfeiffer, and I were introduced to Anne Marie Jones & Carol Metzker who wrote A Shield Against the Monster, which offers tools to avoid being trafficked and signs to look out for. Anne Marie shared with us her personal experience of being trafficked, which is one of the stories we explore in the documentary. We are hoping to expand this into a broader series.
What inspires you?
I would say the idea of people, particularly women and non-binary communities, seeing themselves and feeling represented by my work. It’s so important to have role models on the screen to show people what and who they can be. If my films or the characters I play can make any type of difference for someone, then I’m doing my job.
What are you most excited for? What’s next?
I’m heading to Columbia University in the fall to get my MFA in Producing, and I’m looking forward to building a network of talented filmmakers and collaborating on projects there. I have two pilots that I am working on, and I was recently in the episodic series, How to Hack Birth Control, directed by the amazing Sassy Mohen. I play Wendy, and it provides women with their options for birth control in a hilarious way, and its message couldn’t be more important than ever with the war on women’s rights that we’ve recently seen play out. I hope to continue to work on important projects like this, one that makes a difference!