Spunky with a little bit of quirk and edge—Actress and Comedian, Paulina Laurant isn’t afraid to play characters outside of her comfort zone. Her ability to fully immerse herself into completely different characters each time is astounding. With full-bodied range, Paulina is a rising star.
Like most actors starting out in the business, Paulina built her acting experience on student projects, indie films, and shorts. She has since then worked her way up to being represented by one of the top agencies in the industry and going out for network projects. This year alone, Paulina has already wrapped three projects, 6two6 AZNS, a comedy web-series with an all-Asian cast, produced by Evelyn Wong and directed by Savannah Southern Smith, two feature films–Triassic World and Megalodon, both produced by The Asylum.
Megalodon is scheduled to air on the Syfy network sometime in July during shark week. When she isn’t bringing her next character to life, you can catch her performing live comedy every week with her all-female Improv team—Belligerent, and her Sketch comedy team—The Color Collective. She is excited for what the future may bring for Asian American actors and who she will get to work with next.
London Prestige Exclusive Interview with Actress Paulina Laurant
London Prestige: Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.
Paulina Laurant: I was born and raised in Portland OR and was an only child for about 10 years. Both my parents divorced when I was four, they remarried and now I have 5 half siblings. I think growing up, as an only child was what made me want to be an actress because I had to constantly find ways to entertain myself. I used to be OBSESSED with Leonardo Dicaprio, obsessed in a way where it was like.. every tunnel my parents drove into, I’d close my eyes and wish in my head “Please god, let me marry Leonardo Dicaprio”.
I think the funniest memory I have as a kid though was when I came up with this crazy elaborate plan to pretend I was homeless, just to get a couple bucks for some spicy Cheetos from the mini-mart. I was only 7 at the time, I ripped holes in my pants, rubbed dirt all over my face, and made a sign with horrible grammar saying “I’m poor, need money”. I stood out on the corner of my grandmother’s house and bam! The acting skills came on. My cousins watched from the window, laughing and hoping I could money for us. I looked incredibly sad…I was in character! My plan was working…Until… My uncle drove by screaming “GET IN THE HOUSE!” Oh boy, was I in trouble. I grew up in a pretty diverse neighborhood too and I’m really grateful for that, I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my upbringing.
The High School I attended was predominantly all Blacks and Asians, and the minorities were Caucasians. I used to get into a lot of fights because I was bullied as a kid, but my dad always told me. “Beat them up so bad so they don’t mess with you ever again” and I did just that, I was suspended from school 3 times! I loved playing basketball and I did martial arts competitively for a few years. I was always the goofball who did outlandish things to entertain my cousins. Before I got into acting, dance was essentially one of my biggest passions. Hip-hop culture was a big part of my life growing up; to stay out of trouble I picked up break-dancing and did that for 7 years. It was a lot of fun and I made many lifelong friends from it, but in my heart I always knew I was meant to be an Actress.
London Prestige: What are you currently working on?
Paulina Laurant: I just wrapped my latest feature film “Megaladon” produced by The Asylum and Directed by James Thomas, it’s gonna be airing on Syfy in a few months, its my first network project so I’m pretty excited about it.
London Prestige: What made you take this role?
Paulina Laurant: I took this role because I’ve never played anyone like Cheng before and not to mention sci-fi films are a blast to work on.
London Prestige: What journey does your character go on in the course of the monologues?
Paulina Laurant: When you first meet Cheng, you don’t really think much of her, she kind of seems neutral to everything, but throughout the film, you realize. She has a lot to do with saving the day. She is the most innovative one of the group and always comes up with all the ideas, even when it seems like there aren’t any! I think she will surprise the audience.
London Prestige: Tell us a little bit more about this film, what is it about, who else are you working with, and who is the director?
Paulina Laurant: It’s an action Sci-Fi movie about a prehistoric creature known as the Megaladon which existed millions of years ago. The amazing thing I learned was that my character was originally written as a man. Needless to say, I felt extremely flattered. It’s directed by James Thomas and the other actors include Dominic Pace, Caroline Harris, Luke Fattorusso, Elizabeth Cron and Aimee Stolte. There is also another prominent actor making a cameo appearance in the film, but I am not allowed to say who it is yet.
London Prestige: What is the most challenging role you have played and why?
Paulina Laurant: I think every role I have played has been challenging in some way. There is a certain vulnerability in every character you play, everyone has secrets and things they don’t want people to know. As an actor you have to be able to find that same vulnerability in yourself, most people are afraid to be vulnerable.
It’s not an easy thing to do, and I think the most challenging thing for me personally is being able to disconnect myself from the character and not bring it home with me, especially if the material is closely linked to something I have also been through. For me, it depends on the character and what they’ve been through; I have to figure out to find it without affecting my own emotional state. I can’t say there was one particular role that was challenging, I would have to say there were moments in every role I’ve played that I found challenging.
London Prestige: And the most fun one?
Paulina Laurant: Ah man, I can’t just pick one! This is hard. I think the most fun set I worked on was when I played Tessica AKA Azn Satan on 6two6 AZNS. I’ve never seen so many Asian actors on one set in my life. Everyone just had such great energy, and was on top of their game. I love it when I get to work with other actors who are willing to just let everything go and play.
London Prestige: Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
Paulina Laurant: I think the biggest accomplishment I have to date would have to be when I performed stand up at the flappers comedy club and made a room full of people laugh. It was both the scariest and most awesome thing at the same time.
London Prestige: What training / education do you have? How has your training prepared you for you acting career?
Paulina Laurant: My training has mostly came from studying Scene study, improv and audition technique from different acting coaches in Los Angeles and Seattle. My training didn’t start until I moved to Seattle when I was 19. I started taking classes with Chris Soldevilla who taught scene study. I think scene study is an important foundation for any actor starting out. You have to know how to break down a scene, what is your objective? Where does the beat change, what are your thoughts? How do you personally connect to the material? How do you use your imagination? It teaches you how to be specific with your work. The audience won’t believe you if you aren’t specific with your work.
Memorizing the lines and saying them aren’t enough. I’ve also had a lot of improv training, which has been extremely helpful for when I go out for commercials and comedy. Improv is the BEST training for any actor. It teaches you how to think on your feet, how to listen, how to find the funny in anything. With improv, you’re basically the director of the story. But on the spot. You’re coming up with the characters, the relationships, the environment, and then you have to think of way to heighten it. That’s really what comedy is all about, how do I heighten this to make the stakes even higher so the audience thinks this is funny?
There’s a lot that goes into that, I could talk about that FOREVER. Another type of training that I have felt has been really useful for me is my audition technique class. Auditioning and being on set are two completely different animals. Once you book the job, you’re there, you have someone to go off of, you’re dressed like the character, and you’re in the environment. It’s much easier to “go there”. I feel like in an audition room, it can be so cold; sometimes the reader isn’t giving you much and you have to make sure your eye lines are right, and that you’re not nervously moving your head back and forth, there is so much that goes into auditioning process.
London Prestige: Is there any academy or professional in the field that you enjoyed working with that you would like to recommend in your city?
Paulina Laurant: In Los Angeles, I highly recommend these studios.
Stan Kirsch Studios if you’re looking for a class that teaches you how to audition and book the job. Stan is the man, I can’t even say this enough. A lot of actors at this studio are working on network shows and there’s a reason for that. They know what they’re doing. I’ve been there for a year now and my callback and booking ratios have gone up tremendously!
Berg Studios if you’re looking for a class that helps you break down a scene. Excellent scene study class for any actor, Gregory Berg is a f&*^ing genius.
I recommend UCB or The Pack Theater for improv training. I’ve been studying improv at the Pack Theater for about a year now, and it has helped me become a better comedian and human being. I feel like improv is good for boosting your confidence and learning how to listen and converse with people everyday. If you go out for a lot of commercials, IMPROV is everything and a must for your training.
If you’re in Seattle, I STRONGLY recommend Chris Soldevilla for scene study. He is amazing. Best Acting coach I’ve ever had, he’s my person. And that is saying a lot.
London Prestige: Who is your favorite director to work with and why?
Paulina Laurant: My favorite director that I have worked with would have to be Dylan Vox. He directed Triassic World, another feature film I wrapped earlier this year. I loved how specific he wanted his shots to be and I really admired how detailed he was about everything. He is also an actor too, so I felt like he really knew how to connect with me. I just felt really taken cared of, and to me that’s everything, trusting your director.
London Prestige: Have you ever considered branching out into directing or screenwriting?
Paulina Laurant: I have definitely considered it. There needs to be more woman directors! I’ve always wanted to write a comedy series or a feature.
London Prestige: Where have you played a lead role? What was the character about?
Paulina Laurant: I played a lead role in an indie feature called Algorithm. My character’s name was Bitchan. It’s a film about computer hacking, I was known as a “maker” It was a lot of fun, we shot it in San Francisco and I learned a lot about the computer hacking world.
London Prestige: Do you have any theatrical experience? What plays have you performed?
Paulina Laurant: I’ve only done one play in my entire life, and that was when I was 12. I was cast as Caliban in the Shakespeare play, The Tempest. It was such a surreal experience, can you imagine being 12 years old and spewing out Shakespeare like you know what you’re saying? I wish I could say I had more theater experience, it is the BEST training you can have as an actor.
London Prestige: If you weren’t acting what would you be doing?
Paulina Laurant: If I wasn’t acting, I feel like I’d probably be a chef. I look to cook healthy meals. I have so many food allergies so I’ve learned to get pretty creative, I’ve been told my food is delicious! Not to mention, I love food and I love feeding people.
London Prestige: What have you seen lately that’s inspired you?
Paulina Laurant: I just finished watching the Netflix original series “Love” produced by Judd Apatow. It gave me some inspiration to start writing my own comedy feature. I thought the show was absolutely adorable and really well written. It made me want to write something similar but with a different dynamic. I would LOVE to work with Judd Apatow someday; his photo is on my dream board so it could happen! 😉
London Prestige: What television shows or show would you love most to be on?
Paulina Laurant: Oh man..there’s so many! The Good Place, I-zombie, Shameless, Hawaii 5.0 (because I’d love an excuse to go to Hawaii and film), Grownish, Jane the Virgin. Superstore, Basically any network comedy show, I would love to work on.
London Prestige: What’s your goal for this year?
Paulina Laurant: Book a series regular role on a sitcom!
London Prestige: What is your advice for aspiring actors?
Paulina Laurant: Don’t compare yourself to others, be consistent, don’t take anything personal and WORK ON YOUR CRAFT! If you’re not on set you should be in class. If you can’t afford to be in class, then you need to find other actors to rehearse with. The biggest thing….DON’T BE LAZY. There are a lot of lazy actors in this town, don’t be one of them. Show up on time, know your lines and put 110% in everything you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a student film, nonpaid, or a deferred project.
We all have to start somewhere, so put your best foot forward. It will pay off. People will notice talent, but hard work creates consistency, and…BE A NICE HUMAN AND TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT. Don’t forget to be grateful for everything you have and celebrate all the little wins. Just remember, booking is the vacation and the work is in auditioning, rehearsing and networking. Enjoy the process and don’t forget to have fun.
*Cover photo by Matt Cobleigh