We had the good fortune of connecting with Lora Oliver and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lora, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The greatest danger is the “unlived life,” the life we dream about but allow to die because we are too scared of taking any risks and betting on ourselves.
When I was 25 I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area without knowing anyone, rented a room from Craigslist, walked 4 miles to and from the nearest BART station in order to commute 40 miles for a job that paid $12 an hour everyday.
I didn’t even have enough money for bus fare much less to buy a car. Each day I walked through San Francisco’s Financial District, and I told myself I would work in one of those high rise office buildings one day. In less than two years I was working in one of those very buildings for JPMorgan Chase on their International Equities Sales Team.
In 2017 I left a promising and successful career with a real estate investment company in order to pursue my creative passion for acting. Then in 2018 I sold my house, moved to another city, where again, I had little to no network and no familiarity with the area. Lather, rinse, repeat and did it all again in 2021.
Maybe some would find my actions as risky, I view them as necessary. I love being a bit uncomfortable because that is where I experience the most growth.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My collection of experiences provides me with a unique approach to characters, combined with my love of stories, allows me to contribute a different perspective for each film.
Ever seen “Clueless?” Imagine Cher being dropped into a pig pen in the middle of 40 acres of sagebrush and rocks. While my life was no where near as posh as Cher’s, I did live the common CA suburban life of a teenager until the middle of my freshman year of high school. I had friends that I’d known since grade school, was a cheerleader, and even competed in beauty pageants.
Then my parents moved us to an undeveloped property a couple miles outside of a wide spot on the map. Suddenly I was living in a camping trailer with my parents and two siblings crammed in one communal space. Now this teenage former cheerleader was curling her hair with a butane curling iron and heating water for baths. I was so far from civilization that I had to be bussed 34 miles one way to a high school that was K-12 and had fewer than 500 kids in the whole school. Oh, and no cheerleaders.
I thought that was the end of my life, but instead I learned to accept this new chapter and even embraced the rural lifestyle. Eventually. I became heavily involved in the FFA Chapter raising pigs and competing in leadership events like Public Speaking.
I’ve lived in small towns without traffic lights; I’ve lived in major cities with suffocating gridlock. I’ve been an outdoor program coordinator as well as a corporate ladder-climber. I’ve worked with troubled adolescents, adults with developmental disabilities, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. I’ve raised livestock, sold custom swim wear, and managed the office of a San Francisco dental practice. I’ve performed all these roles before I even found acting.
Reading Judy Blume’s “Superfudge” in the second grade ignited a lifetime love affair with stories. Tell me a good story. Pull me in so that I may lose myself within these imagined worlds. I have loved these worlds for so long that it surprises me I only recently discovered acting as the place where I feel most fulfilled.
When you put the two together, my love of stories and the lives I have experienced, acting makes perfect sense. Many of these experiences were uncomfortable and difficult, but I learned to lean into them and grew from them. Facing our fears can be scary, yet when we do, we always gain.
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.
One of my favorite qualities of LA are the eclectic neighborhoods. I love the Hollywood Dell area for the great donuts at Kettle Glazed Donut Shop and lunch at the Beachwood Cafe, which is next to the cool historical stone gates for Hollywoodland and to Aralda Vintage, a store with a beautiful collection of vintage clothing items. I know it’s such a touristy thing, but I’d take my guest to see a show at the Pantages Theater and have a pre-show cheap beer at the Frolic Room next door, which I love because of its kitsch. I would also use it as an excuse to duck into Memento Mori on Wilcox because I love to see all the unique items they offer.
Canter’s Deli on Fairfax is a definite stop for lunch before perusing the local Goodwill and The Council Shop in the area. I am a collector of vintage and lover of thrift stores so sharing a trip to a thrift store is me sharing a very real piece of myself. Make sure to get a Sidecar donut as a treat afterwards.
I love Macleod’s Brewery in Van Nuys because they offer authentic cask ale. I’m also looking for where the CVT Soft Serve truck is parked that day and if nearby, I’m getting a chocolate cone. Can you tell I’m driven by my stomach? Regular tributes of food and drink for my belly make a happy Lora.
I also love walking through Olvera Street, the Hollywood Roosevelt for a drink and some interesting Oscar’s history, or just driving through the neighborhoods to see the different architecture. I recently read a book about the 1986 fire of the main branch of the LA Library and I really want to check out the building.
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?
I am surrounded by amazing people who pick me up or lie down with whenever I am struggling. My group of loved ones choose to be in my life; they choose to love me, and for that I am eternally blessed. I would not be able to navigate the entertainment industry without them.
I would like to acknowledge two special individuals Mark and Tamara Henderson. When I moved to San Francisco they both took a chance on me which changed the trajectory of my life. I am humbled that they put their necks out for me when they barely knew me. Their actions opened new doors for me, and I aspire to be as genuinely caring like them.
First image: Michael Roud Photography/www.michaelroud.com