A Conversation with Actress/Singer Lauren C. Mayhew

When you’ve been a member of a pop rock band that toured with Britney Spears, N’Sync, and Destiny’s Child … have interviewed some of Hollywood’s best and most famous entertainers on a nationally-syndicated TV magazine show … just finished wrapping up a co-starring role in the fourth installment of one of the most wildly successful comedy film franchises in movie history … and are putting together your first album while attending college full-time … ALL BY THE AGE OF 19 … where the heck do you go from there?

For multi-faceted and multi-talented Lauren C. Mayhew, the answer lies in a single word: UP.

After some schedule juggling and while still recovering from a cold, Lauren graciously spoke with me on the phone for about 30 minutes regarding her life and career – and immediately exploded the myth that beauty and brains are mutually exclusive in a young actor/singer/model today. Warm, intelligent, and – in a word seldom used today – refreshing, Lauren C. Mayhew filled me in first on which side of the interview chair she really prefers … the subject, if for no other reason than because she totally loves what she does, and likes to let people know it.

The daughter of an orthopedic surgeon and a nurse, Lauren’s career started at the ripe old age of 9 when, while modeling (yes, modeling!), she began booking work in commercials.

By 12 she’d landed an acting gig on the hit CBS soap Guiding Light, but within a year would turn her attention to music – in a HUGE way, when she became a part of a new pop group called PYT. The group, and its success in touring with some of the biggest acts in music, kept Lauren busy for the next 4 years, until at 17 she turned her attention back to acting, which she’s been doing since. But for Lauren, there’s nothing like her roots in music …

“There’s something about a live audience,” she says regarding one of her current projects: her first solo album. “It’s different now than with PYT; a more personal process now. It’s satisfying to know it’s something you’ve created … (whereas) acting is more collaborative; not as much your thing.”

Lauren takes pride in all her work, of course, but admits to a “real pride” when she (for example) finishes a song. Lauren classifies her first solo effort as “a rock album, with a little electronic, still in the first stages” – and as she discusses it on the phone, it’s really obvious that this is a project Lauren’s investing everything in; a true project of the heart, her music is.

But having also conducted her share of interviews as host of TV’s “Real Access” a few years back … when asked who her favorite interview subject would have to be, Lauren’s zero-hesitation response brings her solidly back to acting ground again …

“Johnny Depp. Just from an actor’s standpoint … to ask him about his choices …” To Lauren, Depp does is best because “he shows that you can be in the public eye and have things to yourself. It’s refreshing.” The respect and admiration Lauren has for this actor’s actor is obvious.

And indeed, Lauren’s own acting career has been populated with quirky characters; she usually plays the bad girl, having recently butted hears with Hilary Duff in Raise Your Voice (currently on DVD) as Robin. But coming soon to a theater near you, you can really catch Lauren up to her bad girl antics in American Pie: Band Camp, the fourth installment in the leviathan that is the American Pie film series.

Lauren plays Arrianna, the popular lead of a dance team who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle that includes Stifler’s younger brother (Tad Hilgenbrinck, who stars). Lauren admits that previous AP cast members appear in the film, but says Band Camp is essentially “like starting a new era” in the series. Of filming, Lauren admits to a “high energy shoot” that was “lots of fun with a very dedicated group of actors.” Unsurprisingly, Lauren anticipates a summer release for the film.

But the big screen isn’t her only mountain conquered; in January Lauren appeared in two TV series, “Medical Investigations” and “Joan of Arcadia” … and in April guest-starred on none other than CBS’s hit “C.S.I.” – where she found the part of Candice Mosti “something to sink my teeth into.” In the episode, Lauren played a model at a Las Vegas agency who is suspected of the murder.

Turns out the agency’s models – many of them – are also prostitutes, and Lauren felt her role was “feistier” because her character “is stereotyped and accused … but not a hooker like the others.” She was great in the role, and the episode is entitled “4×4” – if you haven’t seen it, make sure to catch it in rerun!

Lauren’s beautiful and sophisticated appearance tends to get her the “feistier” parts, anyway: “I tend to play mean girls … rebels … outsiders.” And as much fun as such characters are to play, Lauren admits she’d really like to just play the nice girl – “a character who’s a mix of both … more complex, with more dimension.”

It’ll happen; time is on her side, as Lauren has accomplished more in 19 years than some performers do in their entire careers. She’s still, after all, just settling into her work … UCLA … and even Los Angeles, where she’s lived solo now for only about 10-11 months, now that her mother (whom she speaks with every day) has gone back to Tampa.

Lauren credits her mother and family for all the support and encouragement that has led her this far (in reality, her mother – definitely NOT a stage mom – initially didn’t want her daughter pursuing show business!); her entire family, in fact, cheers her on to this day.

Other inspirational influences in Lauren’s life and career include Michael Jackson, Linkin Park, Garbage, Coldplay … and on the acting side, she completely admires Julia Roberts, Nic Cage, and Monster talent Charlize Theron. Her #1 choice of dream co-star of the future is, of course, a no-brainer; she hopes one day to act on screen with Willy Wonka himself, Johnny Depp, of whom Lauren is obviously a fan.

When asked, in turn, what she thinks about her fans … and, in particular, of being approached for an autograph … this Famous Fan herself acknowledges that the support is appreciated:

“It’s really flattering that someone appreciates your work and wants to meet you and get your autograph – it’s a compliment.” Lauren’s quick to add, though, that she’s not “at a Julia Roberts level, swamped and all with requests” … but still feels that “while it may not always be something you want to do, it does sort of come with the job” for anyone in the business.

“It depends on how you ask, too,” she adds, admitting that fans who ask their favorite performers for an autograph should always approach the person they admire with kindness, respects, and patience.

When asked of any favorite charities she hopes to bring awareness to with her growing fame, Lauren finds the Eating Awareness Association to be close to her heart.

Being quite thin herself (though perfectly healthy), Lauren finds that some of the parts she plays push the eating disorder/bulimia stereotypes – therefore, it’s become important to her to show that she’s healthy, while at the same time bringing awareness to what is a growing problem in this country today, among young women particularly. “You have to be comfortable in your own skin – especially in this industry,” she says, and makes every effort to help bring more awareness to the plight of those who can’t find this comfort within themselves.

And Lauren C. Mayhew seems destined to be around a long time to impart this message, as well as share her talents with the world. With feet firmly planted in modeling, music, television, and film … Lauren C. Mayhew ain’t going anywhere soon.

Except maybe to the top.

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