When Lauren Blumenfeld walks into a room, it immediately lights up. And it is that charm coupled with a wealth of talent, that is propelling the Los Angeles artist forward. Making her presence felt alongside Kathering Heigl and Laverne Cox on the new CBS drama, Doubt, we caught up with Blumenfeld to talk shop.
HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: You are a Los Angeles girl through and through. What was your upbringing like?
LAUREN BLUMENFELD: My dad is a lawyer, my mom is a kindergarten teacher and my sister got her Masters in Library Science. I’m the strange performer in the family. I went to a progressive elementary school that didn’t have traditional grades. We counted beans and measured cats in math class (long story). Carpool culture was big. I loved going to the beach and hiking in Topanga Canyon (still two of my favorite LA pastimes).
As a pre-teen, I felt most cool when my parents dropped me off at the mall in Century City, where I would buy tons of sour candy with my friends. Clearly, I was a real rebel back in the day.
HM: You got your start in the feature film, A Little Princess. What do you remember from that early experience?
LB: I was seven years old and had recently decided I wanted to be an actor after a storyteller visited my elementary school with her puppet, Herbert. I fell in love with her stories and wanted to live inside of them. A Little Princess happened by accident. I followed a friend to an acting class on a play-date. A casting director dropped by and invited me to audition. Somehow I was cast in the film.
I had a few lines and got to wear beautiful green costumes and spend time playing on gorgeous sets with other little girls. It was a dream come true because I was such a fan of the original Shirley Temple version. The experience definitely wetted my appetite to perform, but I focused on school, went to college and then began pursuing acting professionally sometime later.
HM: You studied experimental theater at NYU. How does that training show up in your work today?
LB: My training at the Experimental Theatre Wing (ETW) has been incredibly valuable. I can be quite analytical and over-think things, which doesn’t always make for exciting acting. At ETW, I learned to connect to characters by making clear physical choices, which in turn brought out the character’s internal life. My training at ETW helped me get out of my head and connect to my gut and heart. It can be so tempting to walk into an audition and try to give a casting director exactly what it is you think they want. However, at ETW teachers challenged us to value an authentic choice over a “right” choice.
HM: You made your Broadway debut in Richard Greenberg’s Tony nominated, “The Assembled Parties.” Tell me about the role you played…
LB: “The Assembled Parties” follows a Jewish family over two Christmas’. The first was in the year 1980 and in then in 2000. I played Judith Light’s slightly slow daughter, Shelley. Though she never quite measured up in her family, Shelley was fun and rewarding to play because she had a subtle strength and grace. She didn’t over-complicate anything and took everything quite literally. It was refreshing to play a character that was so direct and pure. And it was so exciting to be in a play with Judith Light and Jessica Hecht, two of my favorite actresses.
HM: So many artists journey to Hollywood with pockets full of dreams. Was there any trepidation when you first started auditioning or did you just dive in?
LB: I definitely dove right in. That being said, there have been moments of extreme doubt. The rejection is real and constant and can feel quite personal. It is so hard to make a living as an actor. I’ve done just about every odd job—babysitter, teacher, sales person, waitress, you name it. However, the thought of not acting always felt too painful.
I really do love it and could never walk away. I received great advice once from one of my favorite older actresses in New York. We were both auditioning for different projects at the same casting office. I was nervous and she said, “Honey, this is just one stop on your day.” It was a great lesson: build a rich life that doesn’t depend solely on auditions and jobs. Make lots of diverse stops on your day.
HM: You are starring in the new CBS drama, Doubt, opposite Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox. The set-up has Heigl playing hot-shot attorney Sadie Ellis at a boutique firm led by legal lion, Isaiah Roth. She begins to fall for her client who is accused of murdering his girlfriend 24 years earlier. Her career and her happiness hang in the balance. What were your first impressions when you read those first scripts?
LB: I loved the script when I read it. The show tackles social justice issues and gives voice to underdogs. Also, the cast is spectacular. I’m thrilled to play a small part on such an exciting new show.
HM: Tell me about the character you play…
LB: I play Lucy, Sadie’s (Katherine Heigl’s) spacey assistant. She is referred to as the worst assistant ever, but I prefer to think that she just has a different set of strengths. While common sense assistant tasks may elude her, she cares deeply for her co-workers and adds a bit of color and levity to the office.
HM: When making choices for this character or any character you play, what is your process?
LB: I start with the script. I look at what my character says and what is said about her. This may sound basic, but I think it’s important to understand how any character functions within the whole story before diving into the fun character work. I do a lot of daydreaming about the character’s likes and dislikes, habits, opinions, fears, etc. I take notes, watch, and read things that shed light on the character. I tend to do a lot of work beforehand so I can feel free to play on set.
HM: You work with a great cast including Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox. What has it been like working with them?
LB: They are both extraordinary. Katherine is generous, kind, and relaxed on set. She was pregnant while shooting and was such a trooper. Laverne is a dream too. She’s a wonderful singer and dancer and would sometimes practice Beyoncé choreography between takes to keep her energy up.
HM: What are some of your passions away from work?
LB: I write, I practice yoga, and I try to get outdoors whenever possible. I also love to craft and make homemade greeting cards. Also, for over a decade, I’ve been a proud volunteer at the 52nd Street Project, an incredible organization that teaches playwriting, acting and storytelling to kids in Hell’s Kitchen in New York. I’m also a Smart Partner at the Project, which basically means that once a week I get to hang out and go on adventures with the coolest fourteen year old, Karen.
HM: If you could have dinner with any 3 people past or present, who would they be and why?
LB: I would have dinner with Gilda Radner, Joan Didion, and Beyoncé. I would choose Gilda for laughter, Joan for revelation, and Beyoncé for transcendence.
HM: What’s the master plan?
LB: Be kind. Spread love, heart and laughter. I know that sounds like a Yogi Tea affirmation, but I think it’s a solid plan and we could all benefit from more of these things right now… so let’s spread them.
‘DOUBT’ AIRS ON CBS, WEDNESDAYS, 10/9C.
LAUREN ON TWITTER: @RealLaurenB
LAUREN ON INSTAGRAM: @reallaurenb
PHOTOGRAPHY: BENJO ARWAS