We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Cathcart Robbins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The Only One In The Room podcast was born out of a viral article that I wrote in 2018 for Huffpo about being the only Black person at a 600 person retreat. As soon as the article went live I started getting responses from people all around the world who connected with the feeling of being ‘othered.’ The emails and messages we received ranged from “I am the only one who couldn’t have a baby,” to “I am the only one keeping a terrible secret” to “I’m the only one taking care of my dying spouse”. We decided to launch the podcast in April of 2019 to tell those stories.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was one of those bookish kids who read everything I could get my hands on. I started keeping a journal when I was about seven and never stopped. For me, writing is akin to breathing, in that it’s not optional. But I was stumped as to how best to get someone to publish my words. I scoured the internet, looking for a hack, but I just couldn’t figure one out. So I started a blog, a blog which only my parents read at first, then it slowly climbed to a weekly readership of a few thousand. At the same time, my rejections folder for pieces I submitted for publication grew fatter and fatter. Writing, at times, is like creating in a vacuum – one has absolutely no idea of their work is being received. So when an editor emailed me back ten minutes I hit send one day (“I want it” ) I was over the moon. And then when that piece went viral, I was absolutely floored. Since then, I’ve had several viral articles published and discovered the power of my voice. I am a Black woman, a mother in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and in a long-term interracial relationship. Not only does my voice count, but when I use it, I have the power to give a platform to others, and amplify their voices as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have three brothers that live back east and they love come visit. I’m not big on touristy spots, but I’ll do the obligatory trip to the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, or the Hollywood of Fame if they insist. I’m vegan, so a great day with them might start by having lunch at Monty’s Good Burger (it’s like a vegan In N Out!), or maybe the Beverly Hills Juice Club for their yummy smoothies. Brunch is always either Stuff i Eat in Inglewood or Crossroads on Melrose. Encinal Canyon on the way over to Malibu has the best views, so we’ll usually stop there on our way to the beach to take in some out-of-this-world scenery. Once we’re at the beach, for anyone who eats seafood, you can’t miss Broadstreet Oyster Company, best lobster rolls west of Maine. Before they head home, we always hit Griffith Park Observatory for the planetarium show.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have the honor privilege of being part of two women’s writer’s groups; one is a unique memoirist’s collective called Moving Forewords. Together, these groups are my north star. The support, over, and mentorship I receive from them is both gangsta and unparalleled.
Photos by Scott Slaughter and Cooper Urlich