Amanda Carr sits down with actress, director, coach and President of Lau Lapides Company, Lau Lapides
Your name: Lau Lapides, pronounced LAW Lah-pee-dez is a unique name. Is it a conversation starter?
Absolutely! The more unique a name is in our business…the more people will ask me about it. Unique= memorable! Hidden secret: it’s all in a name!
Your background in acting started at a very young age on the South Shore and early on, you focused on “improvisation” a skill usually reserved for seasoned actors. Tell us about those early years, and your experience working with a theatre company.
I actually was a dancer before I became a professional actor for about 10 years so I knew how to “speak” through my body and express myself without using words. I was quite shy growing up. Once I discovered acting I discovered a way to gain artistic license and say anything to capture an audience and gain attention. It fascinated me that my mind, body and words were all engaged at once and that I was actually delivering a powerful message to an audience of total strangers. This quickly became my passion.
Do you feel anyone can enter the arts and entertainment business at any age and with any amount of experience and have something both to offer and to gain?
Yes, for sure! These days the industry needs all types, all ages and all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This is because demographics in the U.S. have changed dramatically. Plus, with Baby Boomers being the largest part of our population, there is an ongoing need for both young and mature seniors in film, TV and voice over projects. Many of our clients are being considered first for a role over seasoned performers simply due to their “look” or “age” or “energy.”
You started Lau Lapides Company seven years ago with a unique vision and approach, encompassing clients just getting started, those re-entering the marketplace, and those who have lots of experience. People can focus on just about anything at your studios in Wellesley. What types of things do you do to forge connections for your clients and do you feel that business relationships are critical to success?
Absolutely! We call it “Show Business” for a reason. Sometimes I joke that it’s more like the business of the show! We coach and remind our clients constantly that performers are a “brand” and sold as a “commodity” and that’s not a bad thing.. it’s the way advertising works and our audience understands this. When a client makes the leap from hobby to career the first item on the agenda is their brand. All of their training, marketing, personal style and strategies to find work should be fashioned around their brand. The more detailed and specific, the easier it is for the Talent Agent, Casting Director or Producer to figure out how they can use them. The goal: make their jobs very easy!
Your company motto is “Find Your Voice”. It seems like you have found your own voice and are now on a quest to help others find theirs. With managing and growing three company locations in Boston, New York and Miami, how do you find time to hone your own craft?
This is a great challenge for me at this point in my life: balancing work, career, family life. It’s like spinning plates in the air and hoping none will fall and crash! I find ways to spread my performance wings through role playing and demonstrating technique when I’m coaching or even auditioning and recording voice overs. Theatre, live performance takes an immense amount of time and I just don’t have that anymore. However, I can easily pull off an on-camera or voice over gig!
Your passion is clearly evident when you are describing what you do. But the fact is, this is a very tough business, full of disappoint. How do you coach your clients to reach for their dreams while preparing them for the possibility that things might not work out the way they want them to?
This is a very challenging question. Our philosophy is a holistic approach to the industry. We look at the human being first and the business aspect second. We hone in on and work specifically to evaluate where our clients are at vocally, physically and psychologically so we can align and manage all of their wonderful assets while balancing the challenges they face. Bottom line: PEOPLE FIRST…then business. In our state of the art studios, we provide coaching on how to get jobs including creating professional actor reels, voice over demos, headshots and composite cards, along with marketing and branding services. Most importantly, we want to help our clients view themselves as how they will be seen and heard in the industry. We host and organize very popular events such as our New England Talent Showcases to expose them to the the best agents, casting directors and producers and to help them secure representation and find casting opportunities. We are their trusted advisors and coaches, but we also help them manage their complicated careers.
When did you realize you had a greater vision beyond your goals of acting and that you could leverage your industry experience to help others achieve their goals?
I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, just like my Dad. But it wasn’t until I actually had an offer on the table, seven years ago, to move into a space that in my mind could be perfect for a professional studio that the ‘lights when on’ for me and I could envision what the next step in my career could look like. The process was absolutely terrifying, and exhilarating, all at the same time. Without too much time to think about it (I am as analytical as I am creative) it saved me from finding reasons not to do it. So, I took a leap of faith and said “yes” and I’m so glad I did. This business has given me some of the best moments in my life. In a few short years, we will be open for a decade. One of the actions we teach our clients is to be unafraid to say “yes”.
You have podcasts and now a book with your creative partner, Dan Lothian. Tell us all about it!
The podcast and the book are quite similar in style and content. Dan and I have so much in common including the unabashed free flow of creative ideas coupled with a pragmatic approach to action, protocol and execution. Meaning, we both really know how to get things done! We believe everyone is creative and everyone has a stunning reservoir of imaginative possibilities in their mental portfolio. However, how many will actually come to realize this potential? “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” I love this quote and I live by it. So our discussions in the podcast “Mic Camera Action: Talkin Shop with Lau and Dan” as well as our book 50 Ways to Mega Crush your Media Career really encompass this discussion, ie: pro secrets on how to book a job, to stepping in front of the competition, or leveraging your assets to create a strong brand
Were you always confident or was that something you had to nurture and build? How important is confidence in artistic pursuit?
I always knew I was an artist and never questioned it, so I never really thought ‘“what do I want to be when I grow up?” I knew what I wanted. Of course, I was naïve and had no idea how many unexpected and complex situations would come my way. I also don’t think I realized that my passion for my craft might someday deeply affect my level of commitment to my family and friends. As I’ve said, I was very shy growing up and it took me many years to create a strong, confident identity. I never wanted the industry to cause me to create a hard shell. Instead, I wanted to develop a strong skin that would still allow for the emotions that make us complete and empower us to evolve in all aspects of life: It’s empathy that defines true confidence. People like you because you know them. People trust you because you care.
If someone wants to explore where their artistic strengths could take them, or enhance their skills, what can they expect when they first contact your company?
They can expect an immediate response and a complimentary consultation to discuss their goals, interests and needs. Also, if they are geographically located near our studios, we happily offer a studio tour so that prospective clients can meet our coaching team and we can develop an individual coaching plan with them. For clients who live far away, we work by phone and Skype. But to truly answer your question, a person who comes to Lau Lapides Company can expect to be seriously regarded and really ‘heard’, cared about, and coached. We develop long lasting relationships, we value personal connections and we want to see our clients succeed.