Lauren Lola is a writer based in the Bay Area! She is both an author and a writer for stage and screen. One of her screenplays, “Breath of Writing” was produced earlier this year in collaboration with Asiatic Productions! She also wrote and published two novels, the first of which was released while she was still in college! Keep reading to find out more about what makes Lauren an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Lauren Lola
Heritage: Filipino, Mixed European
Current City: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I’m currently writing the sequel to my novel An Absolute Mind and I’m submitting a TV sci-fi pilot I’ve written to different fellowships and competitions.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
I had a screenplay that was produced for the very first time earlier this year called “Breath of Writing.” It was in collaboration with a Twin Cities-based production company called Asiatic Productions. I really enjoyed working with the two directors on that short. We talked through every step of the process and I was involved in all the decisions made. It was the truest collaboration I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in! It was also completed and released before the pandemic really went into effect, so we made good timing.
How did you get your start?
I’ve always had a love of writing. Growing up, I would enter in young author contests and write little stories of my own when I wasn’t doing homework, on weekends, and over summer vacations as well. But it wasn’t until eight years ago, while I was still a full-time student in college, that I made the decision to start taking my writing more seriously. I want to write in as many creative mediums as possible. I’ve been taking off since then.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
A few years ago, a short play I had written called “Common Ground” was produced for a showcase at a theater in San Francisco. It wasn’t the first time I’ve written something that was produced for stage, but it was one of the first; complete with actors, a director, costuming, props, lighting design, sound effects, etc.
It’s an emotionally heavy script and it was written to be that way, and that was really the first time I had people come up to me or contact me to tell me, “Yo, your script made me cry.” I had never realized the power my writing can have on an audience until then. Plus, this was a story idea I have had with me for a number of years until then, when I had the opportunity to make it a visual reality.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
I think many creatives can relate to this when I say that rejections are a pain! You put your work out there, you apply for these different opportunities like film festivals and fellowships, in hopes of taking your work to the next level, only to be met with “no” a good chunk of the time. Not to say I don’t have a thick skin to all this. It’s just that there are times when these constant rejections really get you down, and you wonder what you’re doing wrong, what exactly they’re looking for, and/or who is behind the decisions that are being made. It’s exhausting!
Interesting facts about yourself?
I wrote and published my two novels before I turned 25. My first one, A Moment’s Worth, was actually released while I was still in college.
When I was little, I used to be scared of cartoons. Now, I can name “Avatar: The Last Airbender” as one of my favorite shows.
I am the granddaughter of a U.S. Army captain and the great-niece of a Philippine Resistance fighter.
Who do you admire?
If you’re asking specifically about who I admire as a storyteller, that would have to be the filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. I’ve been a huge fan of his films since I was a kid. Aside from his incredible world-building abilities, he’s also skilled at digging deep into the human psyche and doesn’t hold back on showing characters as various shades of gray.
He’s a huge influence on my approach to storytelling. At the same time though, I’m not entirely sure if I ever want to actually meet him. I’ve heard that he can be bluntly cold to people, including his own filmmaker son, Goro.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
I think I’ve always known, although I wasn’t always conscious of it. I started taking my writing more seriously eight years ago after 1. Getting involved in putting together a showcase for up-and-coming Asian American performing artists and 2. Watching one of my favorite writers make his dreams come true with the release of his debut novel. Both instances set examples for me that it is possible to pursue a career in the arts, as long as you put in the work and perseverance to make it happen. Overtime, the more I’ve worked at it and the more I’ve learned, the more possible it has become.
Now I want to make something clear: I’m not in a position to say that I have a career in the arts right now. I still have a full-time job. I’m applying to different opportunities that come up to get my writing on the radar, but I’m not at the point of being a full-time writer at this time. That is a goal of mine for the future that I’m working towards.
Do you have any other “special skills?”?
I can learn to play songs by ear. It’s something I’ve always been a bit of a novice in, but it’s a skill that has gotten even better over the course of quarantine.
I also know how to do a few martial arts. I can do karate and taekwondo and I know a little bit of escrima. When you’re a woman as petite as I am, it helps to know how to fight back if the situation demands it.
In addition, I’ve developed a knack for landing and conducting interviews with notable public figures, specifically within the Asian American arts and entertainment communities. Previous interviewees include actor/comedian Ali Wong, director Bobby Rubio, and actor Jessica Henwick.
Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?
I’m not sure if “side projects” is the appropriate term for them, but when I’m not working on my creative writing, I conduct interviews, write reviews, and think pieces for different BIPoC-focused outlets like The Nerds of Color and Hapa Mag.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is my novels. I think any novelist can agree that writing a book is a primarily solo experience. Even when you have a team to back you up, you’re still the one in charge of shaping the characters and world the readers will get exposed to. But when you’re an independent, self-published author with no contract, no agency, no PR team behind you, it’s a humbling experience to have to take on so many hats at once, just to realize your dreams.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
There are many goals I aim to accomplish.
For one thing, I want to get a literary agent. I know I just talked about how humbling it is to be an indie author, but in my particular situation, I’m not exactly churning out the results that I want. Finding an agent is one of my goals for the coming year.
I want to write a full-length play eventually. While I’ve written plays already that have been produced, they’re pretty short and have been part of showcases. I want to be able to find a story worth telling in the format of a play down the line. I also think it would be pretty awesome to have it produced at East West Players someday.
I want to write for TV. I’ve been applying for different TV writing programs for a few years already with little success. In doing so, I’ve gotten experience with writing spec scripts and original work too. I know I have the capability to do it if I can just get my foot in the door.
I also want to write films. Yeah, I had a short film that was made earlier this year, but I want to take it up a notch. I wrote a screenplay adaptation of my second novel about two years ago that I would love to see come to life one day. I’ve also been writing short films in recent times as well.
In addition, I also want to reconstruct the role of the screenwriter in the film industry. Normally, the screenwriter has little control over how the film that they wrote turns out in the end, unless they're directing the thing as well. Screenwriter Christina Hodson (“Birds of Prey”) put it best when I spoke to her earlier this year, which is that both writing and filmmaking are collaborative processes and that films benefit more from having the writer involved throughout the process. After all, there is no film without the script, so the least that a studio can do is have the writer stay involved even after the final draft has been turned in.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the escapism that comes with writing. Unless your story revolves around really undesirable circumstances, writing fiction allows for you to escape into a world that you can both live in and control. A lot of the stories that I write are either speculative fiction or contemporary fiction but with an out-of-this-world element/vibe to them. It allows for the impossible to feel just a tad bit more possible.
As a writer, how do you pick the stories you write about and what goes into putting a story together?
I pick the stories I write based on how strongly the essence draws me in and/or what feels the most appropriate to tell for the moment the world is in. While I love crafting stories that lean heavily on escapism, I’ve also been known to get real with what is happening in our world and reflect that through a certain lens in my writing. That’s why it can go either way with the stories I choose. But most importantly, I choose the stories I write if I can picture myself working on them long-term, rewrites and all.
For my process, outlining is a must for me. Sometimes, I can get super detailed. Other times, I get the basic idea of what I want to do written down, before I dive into the real deal. I also take the time to do any research necessary on subject matter that might be a little fuzzy for me. While I know there’s that saying to “write what you know,” I personally find that a little too restrictive. I don’t think there’s harm in writing about what you’re learning, so long as you approach it mindfully.
What inspires you?
Life can certainly be inspiring, both the good things and the bad. Along with all the fiction and non-fiction writing I do, I am also an avid journal writer. There are many memories of different experiences throughout my life I’ve documented that can inspire something completely fictional.
I’m also inspired by subject matter that isn’t present a lot in stories told in the moment, and aim to incorporate them into the stories that I tell. Just to give an example, there was a lot of dystopian fiction coming out while I was writing my second novel. Seeing all these stories set in the most undesirable backdrops inspired me to set my story in a future that we should strive to see through in the real world.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I’m a huge geek for a wide variety of subject matter; from “Star Wars” to Asian American film history. So if you ever bring up something that I have a huge geeky love for, prepare yourself for a PowerPoint presentation.
To find out more about Lauren, please visit her at:
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