Thursday, February 24, 2022 was the first day on campus this semester for my Introduction to Cinema students and they had no idea what was in store for them that morning. Back in January, I had been informed by my colleague, Tim Lumas, that he’d volunteered me to interview Jamie Foxx for the Black History Month Grand Finale at Moorpark College. I was immediately taken aback and humbled at the same time. I grew up watching him, beginning way back in the 1990s on In Living Color, for which my uncle, Michael Anthony Snowden, was a writer. I memorized just about every skit on the show and would perform them for family and friends, and had a blast doing it. Back in these days I was writing novels in spiral notebooks and just starting to branch out into a bit of commercial acting, when I very quickly discovered that I was not comfortable being in front of the camera. My eyes were too big, my voice sounded funny and I talked too fast, were excuses — lies I would tell myself as a form of self-preservation. I decided then that I would carve out a path for myself behind the camera, creating roles for young chocolate-skinned girls like me — something I did not see much of back then. Little did I know that 25 years later I would be exactly where I declared I did not belong: on camera, and sitting down to an intimate conversation with one of my icons, Mr. Jamie Foxx. It was a tremendous privilege and a gift to be asked; I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
It’s funny how life works. I believe it’s been the Great Orchestrator from the beginning of my days, lining up shots and placing me in the paths of people who see in me what I sometimes overlook. I’m thankful to Him for that, and to my friend, Tim, and my Moorpark Family for entrusting me with this incredible opportunity. Mr. Foxx was extremely gracious, brilliant and kind — and, of course, hilarious! You have to see for yourself. And if you don’t know the legacy this man has built in both cinematic and Black history, this is the perfect chance to discover more about him and come away with some gems of wisdom as well. He is truly gifted and highly favored. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share, like and subscribe!
I sometimes struggle with wanting to constantly be working on more than one project at once but with life becoming more complicated as the years pass it is getting more difficult to split my focus. My uncle, Michael Anthony, a brilliant screenwriter, artist and my amazing mentor used to tell me when I took this question to him as a younger writer: “Pick a shirt, Lauren. You can only wear one shirt at a time.” I never forgot it. I think if we love multiple stories, we should absolutely write them all. I’d imagine most writers are taken with multiple stories at any given period of time. But I will just throw something out there that I’m playing with now. While some writers thrive writing more than one story at once (including me on more than a rare occasion), that strategy simply doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s working for me less and less these days. I read an awesome book a few years back called Essentialism by Greg McKeown where he made a great case for focusing on one priority instead of “multi-tasking” (by definition there can only truly be one priority though we have redefined the term over ages). The image I am posting with this commentary is from his book where he explains that we could do a little bit on several projects and take longer to accomplish all of them, or, possibly, put all that energy into one project at a time and finish more effectively and efficiently, producing work that is more focused, because our mind is not compartmentalized into several different areas. Just something to think about… The other important think to keep in mind is that what is trending should never dictate what we write, unless we are being paid for it. It’s difficult to write to trends because they are always changing and by the time we see the book (or movie) distributed, years have passed since the process began. So why not start with the one we are most passionate about because it is also going to be more rewarding than trying to predict what folks want to buy in any given season. And if you ever can’t decide because you love each equally maybe just literally flip a coin or try some other arbitrary selection process. It will add a bit of adventure to the journey, maybe. Then focus on writing that one and finishing it, which will incentivize you to get to the next one; at least it does for me. Just some thoughts you can take or leave! Good luck on whatever you decide! 🙂
I had the privilege of presenting a lecture for Black History Month at the college where I teach Film Studies. My lecture was titled “Life Lessons from Remember the Titans.” I was honored to be asked to speak again; this was my second time. Last year’s Black History Month events were pre-pandemic, which feels like ages ago now, and I was able to present in-person. The subject of my talk was one of my favorite films, Claudine (dir. John Berry, 1974) which is a social commentary about the oppressive implications of the welfare system on the single Black mother and its effects on the Black family unit. I was able to give a short lecture, screen the film for a forum full of attendees and then hold a very engaging Q&A/discussion afterward. This year’s presentation looked much different during the pandemic. I presented via Zoom webinar with the help of our amazing instructional technologist and my dear friend and colleague serving as my moderator. While it was very different from presenting in-person as I’m used to, it was quite a rewarding experience to be able to share my heart with so many gracious and invested attendees, despite this time of involuntary isolation, thanks to modern technology. I’m so grateful that it was recorded so that I can share with you all as well!
If you haven’t seen the film, that’s totally okay; I show enough clips that it will make it easy for you to keep up but it will also make you want to watch the entire thing. Even if you’ve seen it before, I hope this will present the film to you in a new light. If you have the time, I would love to have you check it out and let me know what you think. Please feel free to share as well!
I was beyond stoked to have gotten a call from my Auntie G asking me on behalf of Joseph, her partner and lead singer for indie rock band, Executive Order, to be a VIP beta listener for their upcoming album. Of course, it’s always cool to be first at anything but coming from these two, the request meant so much more than that. On first listen I had countless moments that sent me on a sort of nostalgic journey in the spirit of 80s and classic rock, along with shots of blues and pops of country, all reimagined. There are, at times, hints of Bon Jovi or Lenny Kravitz; at others, one of my favorites, The Eagles. But most of the time and with full authenticity, Executive Order’s sound is all their own. Such heart in the lyrics and richness in the sound. This album is satisfying on so many levels and I feel honored to have been among the first to hear it. Now you can get your first taste of this grass roots gem with their premiere single “All Bleed Red.” The song released yesterday and is available for purchase on all the major apps and platforms, but you can listen to the full song here:
With a strong rock foundation, Executive Order has a sound with a unique blend of each of members’ influences and experiences spanning five decades beginning with the 1960’s. A heavy bass line, sweet rhythm guitar licks, and lusty vocals may remind you of another time in music history. Motown and funk influences of all three members are apparent in the melodies, harmonies, and stacked vocals. At times it’s like listening to the radio on a cross-country car ride, driving through the Motor City on your way to Seattle. Along with the band’s heart and passion, great detail and care have gone into thoughtful lyrics, melodies, and arrangements on this release.
Jim Christian, the bass player captures a classic rock melodic feel and the funk of the 70’s with his unique bass lines and Hawaiian soul. The guitarist, Rich Elg, brings to the table a riff-loving vibe reminiscent of guitar heroes of the past decades. The lead vocalist and lyricist, Joseph Olson, pays homage to his Motown, rock, and pop influences through melodies, words, and bridges they inspired. When you put it all together you have an energetic, unique, and seriously fun, sound from a group of performers who wear their hearts on their sleeve and live for the music they create and present to you.
Hello to all my cotton-pickin’ followers; I have missed you! The thing is, life has been quite eventful this past year and I simply forgot to take you on that journey with me. Please, forgive me. I absolutely intend to make it up to you, and I think that my latest treat will go a long way toward doing just that!
As you all know I have been teaching for nearly twenty years now (I know, I can barely believe it myself!). Over this time I have bonded with many of my students — many of whom I am still in contact with to this day. My relationships with them remind me of the long-lasting relationships I have shared into adulthood with some of my own teachers. I remember those who continued to champion me well into my twenties, and some even after that: Chris Paulus, Kirk Vriend, Robin Schneider, (who all three, came to my college graduation from CSU Northridge); Dan Picardi (who added me as a stop-over on his motorcycle road trip itinerary to SoCal a few years back), Alan Taback, Larry McMorris, and Adam Lazear (whom I still owe a visit and feel quite confident that it is, finally, just right around the corner!); my college screenwriting professor, Jim Lawrence (who, in addition to helping me find my voice, gave me the honor of reading several of his projects and giving him feedback, as he had done for me many, many times); and last but not least, Casey Case (without whom I may never have found my path as a filmmaker and Film Studies professor) have all made a tremendous impact on my life. With each of them I could chronicle specific moments, conversations, and memories that have helped to shape who I am as a person and as an educator. That list of treasured souls is the makings of a blog post all on its own! But my point is, when I think back on my formative years, these are the faces that come to mind and cause me to offer up prayers of thanksgiving for their active presence in my life, even though some of them I have lost contact with in more recent years. These are the lives I reflect upon when I think about my own journey and the kind of educator and mentor I hope to be one day.
What I didn’t realize in keeping my focus on one step at a time on this lifelong path of teaching and mentorship, is that I had no frame of reference for just how far on this journey I have already come. Then, last summer Sam, one of my sweetest and dearest friends who, thirteen years ago, was a precious little 6th grade student of mine, incited a conversation between me and a young man I had never met. What happened after that initial phone call is, in part, a tangible measuring stick of just how many miles I have put in on this road.
Joey James is quite a dynamic young man. At the time I only knew him as Sam’s boyfriend (now fiancé — YES!). I knew he worked at our church, Rocky Peak, as the print and digital media coordinator, and that he also worked with the kids ministry there. One afternoon he called me and asked me to be a guest on the new podcast show he was launching, at Sam’s recommendation. Of course I was flattered because since she was eleven years old, Sam and I have had this kindred connection and it meant the world to me that I mean the world to her. But a podcast? That was an entirely different situation. I just didn’t know that I would have anything of value to add to the conversation Joey wanted to have. My immediate response was “I don’t think I’m qualified,” to which he responded, “That’s perfect!” I had my doubts but in the end I gladly obliged because I would do anything for Sam and this Joey was quite persuasive! Once I had the chance to sit down with him for this podcast interview — which was our first official conversation — I quickly learned that beyond his gift for motion design, graphics and visual storytelling, Joey has a tremendous heart for people — near or far (he also does a lot of mission trips), young or old. He is also a gifted listener, which makes him the perfect host for this show. I am so glad I accepted his invitation. What an enriching experience it has been!
I am so excited to share this podcast interview with you. I hope it will give you a bit more insight into my life, my heart, and my journey. I also hope that you enjoy it so much that you stick around to hear the stories of other people who are passionate about their purpose and the people they have the privilege of interacting with as a part of their life’s work. Faith Backstage is just getting started but it has burst out of the starting blocks strong; I’m very blessed to have been asked to be just a small part of it. Thank you, Joey, for this awesome opportunity. And thank you, Sam, for seeing something in me worth sharing. ◆
You can find and subscribe to Faith Backstage on Apple Podcasts and Spotify:
When I walked into the Electric Lodge, a quaint Venice theater, I didn’t know what to expect, except that whatever beauty unfolded it would be remarkable simply because it was the directorial vision of a dear friend and extremely gifted colleague of mine, Desean K. Terry. I wasn’t able to make it out to see the play in its first run last fall due to scheduling conflicts, so I was ecstatic to hear that it was getting a second run. As I crossed the threshold into the cozy space I was immediately transported into a world of dynamic and poignant characters with charming moments and brilliant insights on critically relevant issues that affect us all. This play is important for so many reasons and I urge you to go out and see it. It will open your eyes and shift your perspective in a powerful way; I guarantee it! Congratulations to the playwright (Dionna M. Daniel), the actors, musicians and crew — and a special congratulations to you, Desean, on a magnificent job! I stand and applaud you all 👏🏾
Those of you who have been following me for the past several years have seen me share many stories about my journey as a writer and director and you’ve even seen some of my work. But you’ve never seen me as the protagonist in any of my stories. I have made a habit of not being seen on camera but then I had an opportunity to apply for the Shonda Rhimes Women’s Directing Mentorship and while I was well aware of how many women directors would be applying who had a longer resume filled with bigger stars and bigger budgets, I knew this was still something I needed to do for myself. So I took the opportunity to reflect on who I am as a person, my directing style and what I bring to the table. This short narrative is the fruit of that process. I hope you enjoy. Below is my most recent director’s reel as well. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with me; it means so much!
I know it has been a while since I’ve posted any projects I’ve been working on. That’s because I have been focused on writing the past year and a half. But I’m pleased to bring you a new web series called “Maternity Leave” that I directed, which is written by and starring my dear friend, the highly gifted and hilariously funny Angel Laketa Moore. The first of three episodes dropped yesterday and I am posting the link here for you to check out. There will be a special interview episode where Angel and I discuss our collaboration on the series. I hope you enjoy it; please let me know what you think in the comments! Maternity Leave – Episode 1
Lauren Snowden – Life Group Story from The Church at Rocky Peak on Vimeo.
I must apologize for the extended silence on my blog. Last year was filled with hills and valleys, gains and losses, but I’m thankful to report that I made it on through to 2019! I wanted to share with you a video that was shot about my story at the end of last year and used to kick off 2019 at my church. It also serves as a sort of milestone for me as it was filmed just after my 40th birthday. 40 is a number that holds a lot of significance for many reasons; for me, I am hoping that it also holds the promise of perspective! I am extremely honored that so many saw my story as one that needed to be shared and I hope that it might touch and encourage you or someone you know who needs it. I’m really still in a season of trying to figure things out — and do we really ever “get there?” Nonetheless, I’m determined to keep pushing and I hope you all do the same. Looking forward to this year and all the promise that it holds. Hope to hear from you all soon!
Thank you to everyone who attended the Celebration of Life for my cousin, Artina Richardson, on Saturday May 20, 2017. We can’t thank you enough for the kind words, compassionate care, prayers, and financial gifts, which have helped to lessen our burden. We pray that God will abundantly bless you in return.
We extend a very special note of thanks to the staff at Peers-Lorentzen Funeral Service, Tulare CA, for their excellent assistance.