We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Rascoe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I have never agreed with the idea that we as people have to choose one thing; one thing to do or one thing to be, for the duration of our lives and careers. As humans, we are complex and have a multitude of desires and interests that can change over time. Our bodies are made of up 60-70% of water and we should allow ourselves to be fluid and adaptable just like it. We have the opportunity to change form and take up space and adapt to change as we see fit. Our cells are changing every millisecond and we should offer ourselves that much grace to evolve or change paths, because we’re doing unconsciously already anyway.
I remember being a senior in high school and feeling the weight of “needing” to choose my path as it related to what I wanted to do as far as a major, which would ultimately impact my career. I was stressed, because I am a serious planner and was uncomfortable with uncertainty. Yet, I ultimately chose to not make a decision and allowed myself to cross the bridge when I got there. It was so freeing it was for me to 1) give myself more time, but 2) decide that I wouldn’t just choose one path. I opened myself to the opportunity to explore my interests as they arose. While I did eventually chose to study both visual communications design and experience design, and later international marketing, this choice has always let my curiosity lead me; especially in my creative pursuits. And that has what has allowed me to accomplish so in such a short time on this earth.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The thing that sets me a part from others is that I’m not afraid to explore new crafts or go after new creative opportunities. One thing I’ve learned to embrace over time and affirm is, “I’m dope in real life.” I’m typically known as the remarkably talented friend who’s always got a new project their working on and you know it’s going to be done well because I take my time educating myself on what I don’t know and being open to the creative process. I am always going to let my curiosity lead me and never back down from the thought, “I wonder if I could…” Once that bug bites me, I’m knee deep in exploring the next my creative idea. You could liken me to my namesake, Keke Palmer, because I stay with a new creative project, okay!? lol
I was homegrown in Indianapolis, IN and if you know anything about the education system there, art was something that got cut out of schools often. So, while I was always a creative kid (I danced, I wrote poetry, I would draw and sew, really enjoyed arts and crafts, played the piano and saxophone, was in the color guard, etc.) I didn’t have much training in any one area, nor did I have any close representation of Black people who had a professional creative career. So, for a really long time, I thought I was going to be a doctor until I realized I didn’t want to have to do residency in somebody’s ER and hold life or death in my hands. I ended up studying visual communications design (graphic design) and experience design (event planning) in undergrad.
Two things occurred in undergrad that set me on the path to just explore my creative facets and to be the representation that I wanted to see. The first being that, I had a white adjunct professor, who told the entire class that “Black people didn’t pursue art as a career.” And I remember being alarmed, because WHO told her that, and didn’t she realize there are WHOLE Black Art movements like the Harlem Renaissance, for example? The second being that going through my VCD program revealed that while I loved having the skill of being a graphic designer, I didn’t initially love the idea that people who came to me for help creatively, could dictate whether or not my work was good. So I decided I would take the skill, but move into a more business focused path that could provide more sustainability and wouldn’t burn out my creative muscles. I immediately went on to obtain my master’s in international marketing in Boston, MA and during my time in that program, I decide to self-publish my very first poetry book, Beneath My Beautiful and explore photography.
I returned to Indianapolis upon completing my grad program a year later and wrote my second poetry book, Amavi, and began working as a Communications Coordinator at a church. Now while, that sounds like a bland job, I wore a lot of hats that gave me lots of experience managing the visual brand of the church and acting as a Creative Art Director, because I had to manage an external team of designers and work with vendors to install physical installations on top of the internal and external marketing. I’ve been fortunate to be able to use all of my degrees in just about every role. This sparked my desire to some day have an agency of my own. I started modeling while I was at home due to a friend (s/o to Danielle Lawson) wanting to do a shoot with me and that’s how that started.
I moved to Oakland, CA in 2019 and hit the ground running. I explored every creative opportunity and went to every event, from Netflix panels and screenings to meet up shoots. I truly started cultivating a community here. Since then I’ve kept up with my modeling, made photographer friends and traveled back and forth to LA quite a bit. I connected with Michaela P. Shelton, creator of Reckless Behavior and was given my first acting opportunity to portray one of the main characters, Kamariyah Porter in the second season and we are preparing for season 3. From that opportunity, I was cast as main character, Janelle in the Hard Reset (coming soon) by Thomas Times and am looking forward to that being brought into the world. I also officially launched my graphic design and creative consultancy, Lauren Rascoe Creative in 2020 and business has been going well. I also created a 5 episode podcast entitled, My Textured Soul, just for fun.
I said a lot to get to this point, but the thing I most recently have been the most proud of is my first project as a filmmaker, Child Of The Sun, which was released on July 20, 2022. Child Of The Sun is my first short film, that is an adaptation and visual representation of a poem I wrote entitled the same. I wrote, executive produce, and directed this film and did so in collaboration with OW Productions (Octavious Webster), SeeYouOnTheWest(Kevin Parker), Shoot Dreamz (Quincy Perez), and Vidz by G (Dr. Gregory Jackson). This film showcases an unsuspecting Black man who comes face to face with change, which challenges him to see himself for who he really is. He learns to embrace change by seeing he has everything he needs within him. He picks up the pieces of himself that he needs and leaves behind what no longer serves him; continuing onward to the next level of his journey: the unknown. The film stars Raphael M. Stringer Jr., myself, Ashley Ingram and Ali Mitchell and it was such a beautiful project to work on. I think it’s a powerful message and so far have received a lot of great feedback for it. More information about it can be found on my website and can be viewed here: https://laurenrascoe.com/child-of-the-sun.
There’s so much that I could say about the process of deciding to make this film and everything that it took, but I’ve gotten long winded here. I’ll wrap by saying, that I’ve learned to not wait for anyone’s permission to try new things. I live my best life by creating and there’s nothing that brings me more joy than that. While I used to be afraid, that one day I’d wake up and discover that I should have chosen one creative path, I know now, that life has been worth living now and taking the opportunity to try something new is better than wishing I had the chance later.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As a transplant, I’m always exploring new places so I may not know ALL the best places and a lot of my favorite Black owned spots closed during the pandemic. But I love to eat. One of my favorite spots in the Bay is Oeste. I frequent there A LOT because they have such good food and it’s always a vibe. I love their Mango Habanero Margaritas. Almond & Oak is somewhere my friends and I like to go for brunch or Brenda’s Oakland. I recently discovered this place called Shakewell, that’s really good. There’s also a brunch spot in San Carlos, called Drake’s that has great food. I love to go to the Lake (Lake Merritt) to kick it and hang out. There’s always someone or something to see there. I really like Alamar and Sobre Mesa, their food is flavorful. I also enjoy Kingston 11 or Back-a-yard for my Jamaican food. Comal Next Door has really great chicken burritos, and I like Xolo Taqueria and their tacos. I feel like the Thai food and Pho in the Bay is AMAZING, I haven’t really nailed down a favorite place yet though. Same with Indian food. I haven’t landed a particular sushi spot, but there’s plenty to choose from. There’s a place in Hayward called La Victoria Taqueria – love their food. Grandeur has really great burgers. Everett and Jones has pretty good bbq. I love Lois The Pie Queen. I love to go to Mixt for their really big salads. Terra Mia or Red Bay Coffee for Tea lattes. The list goes on and on. There’s really so many places I could name.
I really enjoy going to Grand Lake Theatre to see movies. The historic and vintage feel of the movie is something my heart loves. As far as going out, I don’t do a lot of it anymore, but recommendations are Oeste, Parliament, District, Everything But Hugs and Kisses (EBXO), Somar or Hello Stranger.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I have to shoutout God, because without The Creator, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I have to shout out my family and friends for all of their support of me. My hometown, Indianapolis, Indiana and my chosen home, Oakland, California and the Bay Area – the 317 raised me, but the 510 certainly taught me the game. I’ve had the opportunity meet so many wonderful creative people on my journey who have shaped me and collaborated with me – I don’t want to miss anyone, so I won’t call anyone out specifically by name so no one’s offended, but if we’ve ever worked together in any capacity, I credit you with my success. My mentors and people who have poured into me, loved on me, spoke encouragement to me, gave me a shot, I thank you as well.
Kevin Parker (@SeeYouOnTheWest) Lupe Henson (@LupesLens) Emerson (@scuderia_vasquez) Joe Rodgers (@joerodgersphotography) Edwin Viduarre (@shadows.photography87) Santos Nieto (@nietos_gente) Brendon McCarthy (@hopandsteal_photography)