Lauren Elizabeth Harris Talks Acting, Filmmaking and Making a Social Impact
Lauren Elizabeth Harris is a creator who doesn't just want to make films—she wants to make films that change the way we see the world.
She's not just an actress, but also a writer, producer and influencer who shares powerful messages in the stories she creates. Whether she's talking about modern dating culture, accepting and embracing your identity or creating documentaries highlighting the worst kind of exploitation, she's using her voice to educate and empower. We got the chance to chat with Lauren all about these incredible projects, and find out why doing what she does is so important to her.
Sweety High: Between being an actress, producer and internet personality, is there any one role that you love most?
Lauren Elizabeth Harris: Definitely being an actor. Acting has been my passion since I was a kid, and I've known I wanted to pursue an acting career since I was 8. I feel that all my other career roles are a means to sustaining my acting career, and finding a way to handle the trials and tribulations of a career with no guarantees.
SH: Can you tell us about your series It's A Girl Thing? What was the message of the series?
LEH: It's A Girl Thing shines light on millennial dating culture and how difficult it can be. It centers around two young women, Allie and Lily, while they're in college and how they handle things like ghosting, sexual harassment, sorority culture and how friendships evolve while going through all of these. The message is intended to take a different look at the Me Too movement, and explore issues that may not be inherently wrong, but how they can still have a lasting impact on the mindset of young people, in our case, particularly women. I hope to create this series on a broader scale, as I feel it is so relevant today, and we talk about many of these issues on my podcast, Damsels in the DMs.
SH: Exactly how involved were you in its creation, and why was it so important to you to create it?
LEH: It was the first project I wrote and produced. I was approached to create the series by my dear friend, Augusta Mariano, while I was studying at The British American Drama Academy. We were both in college at the time, and had experienced first hand many of the issues we explore in It's A Girl Thing. It was important to me to create because I felt like we weren't prepared for so many of the situations we encountered in college. There wasn't really a guidebook on how to handle situations that make you feel uncomfortable but are not overtly wrong. I wanted to create something that allowed other young people to prepare better for the things I wasn't prepared to handle.
SH: Can you tell us about Defining Dodo? Why was this project important to you?
LEH: Defining Dodo explores difficulties with revealing one's identity as a member of the LGBTQ community while growing up in a machismo household. I created this project with my co-host of Damsels in the DMs, Alejandro Valtierra. While his experience was not directly aligned to the character of Dodo, he did understand how difficult it could be to come out when you don't have any close friends or family in your same position who understand you. We wanted to create something that would make people in a similar position see what can happen when you hold back your true identity, and how while coming into yourself can be difficult. Ot can have life-long lasting benefits, which I think is something we can all learn from.
SH: What's been the most memorable event in your career so far?
LEH: Tough question! I'm currently working on a documentary titled The Black Hole with my co-producer, Kirstin Pfeiffer, which takes a deeper look at human trafficking outside of the Philadelphia area. We based the documentary on a book by Carol Metzker and Anne Marie Jones titled A Shield Against The Monster. In researching for the documentary, I had the opportunity to go to my hometown, Philadelphia, to learn more about the horrible trafficking that's happening there. Anne Marie and Carol actually took me with them to Kensington, as Anne Marie is a survivor of trafficking, to get a closer look at what really goes on. We brought roses with us to give to some of the victims there, and to tell them they were worth so much more than the situation they were currently in. We had some really life changing and beautiful moments getting to talk to these women. It was a situation that really showed me the impact filmmaking can have, how it has the power to teach us so much more about what's happening in the world, and to make a difference in ending it by shining light on it.
SH: What's something you're super proud of that you don't get to brag about enough?
LEH: Well, aside from the fact that I got my scuba diving license this year, I'm really excited to share that I'll be heading to Columbia University in the fall to receive my MFA in producing. I hope to have the opportunity to connect with more talented filmmakers, and continue creating work that has some sort of a social impact.
SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
LEH: If you're interested in learning more about my work, you can follow me on Instagram. To hear from me weekly, you can listen in to Damsels in the DMs, available on all podcasting platforms. I am also starring in How to Hack Birth Control, created by Sassy Mohen, that's making quite a splash in the festival circuit right now. Its messaging is more important than ever.
For more on artists doing incredible and unique things in film, click HERE to read our interview with singer-songwriter and filmmaker Mogli on her Ravage album and film.