We had the good fortune of connecting with Paula Lauzon and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paula, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I never thought I would be in a situation where I own my own company. I had always dabbled in selling something throughout my life; Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Grit Magazine when I was younger, (remember GRIT?), so when I made this opportunity a reality it was a no-brainer. I had spent the first half of my life working in the Banking/Marketing Industry; the Auto Insurance Industry; the Legal Industry, both in the private and public sectors; as well as the Energy and Utilities Industry. It was while I was in the latter that I cast my net out further and learned as much as I could as a Business Developer, eventually working for a boutique firm where I procured millions of dollars in projects for review for our firm to manage its assets. As an Actor the skills that I learned over the last thirty-five (35) years, helped me transcend my network in the Entertainment Industry. When the time presented itself in the Summer of 2019, when I arrived in North Carolina, I was extremely comfortable opening, building up and establishing my mission statements for my production company, HarLau Productions, my acting studio, The Durham School of Acting as well as my casting company, HarLau Casting.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The answer to this question would be in addition to the prior question; In order to survive in this Industry, I learned that I needed to be resilient, as well as thick-skinned and thick-headed.  I would not take ‘no’ for an answer in pursuing my goals here.  I also learned and knew where I needed to go and be in order to excel in a short period of time; I have the rest of my life to work in this industry so I’m in no hurry.  I can work at my own pace, choose my own projects as well as create the projects that I want.  I can’t pinpoint a time where I might have had any challenges since 2015. Being an older female, did not deter me and being so determined, I ensured that I always had the right people on my team, because I am the CEO of my own company. I learned this as soon as I got into acting. I was in charge of me and what direction I was going to go with my business.  I’d hired the right agents and manager, where I am now represented in the LA/NYC/ATL and SE Region markets, although over the years many changes were made both on my part as well as theirs.  That’s how this business is. I learned not to allow my personal feelings get in the way of what I needed for myself and my company to grow and knew each time that while I was making the proper changes as well as good choices that this was for my benefit and no one else’s.  I’m sure many people would probably say that I’m being selfish but quite honestly I don’t see it that way at all nor do I care. My father always told me when I was little, ‘You gotta look out for number one’.  It took me over 40 years of my life to realise that he was talking about me.  If you don’t step up to the plate, pull up your bootstraps and swing that bat, you’re going to miss out on SO many opportunities. I ensured that I didn’t miss out on these opportunities.  There were and continue to be so many roles that I audition for and the ones that I don’t book, I know it’s because I’m either not what production is looking for or I didn’t have my game on in the room.  That’s key and paramount in auditioning, being focused and energised as I had been told by a well-know Casting Director when I’d auditioned for her.  I learned believe me.  I took that email and grew the font much larger and bolded it and it stills hangs in my office today as a reminder.  To be focused and energised not just in auditioning for roles but working behind the camera as well.  It took all my life to place myself in a position that when I cast my net out that what I wanted would come back to me and I would not only reap the benefits but I also ensure that my team reaps those benefits as well. When I talk I about ‘my team’, I mean my agents, managers, and many close friends that I know I can trust. Since before and after my arrival in Hollywood I had spent a better part of my time introducing myself to MANY people in the Entertainment Industry utilising my LinkedIn Profile which is a social media business platform. This took time, LOTS of time and I’d had lots of it at that time.  Since 2019, I had taken up residency in Durham NC, after residing in LA from 2015-2019.  LA is actually where I built my foundation in the acting industry and had made the appropriate connections after relocating from the Greater Boston/Southeastern Massachusetts Area. (this entailed driving myself across the country and arriving there after a two (2) week stop in Dallas with $40 bucks in my pocket).  I have always been and continue to be open to new castings, auditions and meet-ups, including collaborations in and on projects, in roles that I fit as well as Directing and Producing which I’ve taken a love to so that I could continue to build close relationships with other Creatives in this Industry that I’ve been passionate about for so long with the intentions of giving back to my community along with paying it forward. I have ensured that I am represented by Acting Talent Agent’s in the LA/NYC/ATL/SE Region markets at present and am continuing to audition several times a month for roles that fit my appearance, etc.  Since my arrival in North Carolina in July, 2019, I have opened my acting studio, The Durham School of Acting as well as my production company, HarLau Productions. I am also a casting director and have cast several projects since being in NC.  I feel another strength that I have is having a really good eye for talent.  

I split my time between LA and NC.  At the moment, I’m in the development stage of my film, ‘Inimicus’ which will be filmed in 2021; I have a private investor for this stage and have hired a consultant and screenplay writer to expand on the short film screenplay that I’m in possession of. This was my first acquisition in opening my production company.  I am also seeking investors/financing for the production of my film(s).  HarLau Productions’ mission statement is to develop, finance, produce and distribute Feature Films and Short Films, including Web Series, that deal in various genres. This will be done by purchasing screenplays from writers around the country and possibly the globe.   Writers are very good at their craft and I intend to have their stories told.  HarLau Productions’ aim is to ensure that its films are viewed by mass market global audiences and return profits to the film’s investors and all of its profit participants. My intention is to be working on films that not only offer entertainment to the viewing audience but that also have a purposeful mission. As well, I have more screenplays in the pipeline with development funding, as it’s available. The process is extremely slow right now, because of the events transpiring in our nation, but I am keeping busy with advancement of screenplays and script reading to make my selections appropriately that align with my production company’s mission.   I am also Executive Producing a Feature Film with a $6.5MM budget to be filmed in 2021 with a production company located in Utah;  As well, I am going to be producing and directing a documentary that was recently pitched to me and also AD’ing on a project (trailer) that I was asked to come aboard on which is filming this September, 2019, in VA.  This project will be pitched to various streaming platforms production companies with the intention of being picked up for a series run.  All of these projects along with the others I have on the table, I’ve acquired private investors for in order to develop these projects.  I feel it is key and paramount to ensure that my crew and talent are paid for their time and effort to assist with my projects that I feel have meat on the bone.  While it’s only been five (5) years, this took a lot of time and effort, not just on my behalf but also other individuals that were willing to open up the discussion with me and of course my constant research through articles, websites and books. I feel that if you don’t have a thick skin to be in this industry, you really are not going to survive. My upbringing and background have a LOT to do with this which is why I am where I am right now in my career.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I haven’t been back to Hollywood in a year since walking the Red Carpet at the Television Academy’s Emmy awards in September, 2019, with my good friend and actor, Becki Dennis, and in light of the current events in our nation and world, traveling is just not something I’m fully comfortable with at the moment.  When my son did travel from Boston to visit for Mother’s Day week, in May, 2019, I took him into Los Angeles and Hollywood, and drove along Sunset Blvd; we went to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, walked upstairs to the vicinity of the Dolby Theatre, where he could get a look at all the views for the area. He was very impressed. We’d also had an ‘early lunch’ at ’25 Degrees’ which is located in the lobby of The Hollywood Roosevelt.  The restaurant was named after the precise temperature between a medium rare and well-done hamburger, and the restaurant introduces a glam twist on the traditional American burger joint.  We highly recommend coming here for drinks and what we found to be very affordable and good food in a great atmosphere.  We’d also driven around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive for some sight-seeing. On the way back home, we were traveling back on the Boulevard where we’d stopped at a light right next to Natalie Portman.  My son noticed her right away and I’d tried to peer over him and look up at her in her mid-sized SUV; he got completely embarrassed.  It was completely funny how this played out later on when we spoke about it because gawking at Film and TV Stars is such a faux pas.  He made sure to remind me that they’re people too.  He did have a point and I’d always made sure never to do that again because I wouldn’t want someone to gawk at me.  It’s a small sacrifice we make to be in this line of work.  We’d also taken a day trip to the Sequoia National Forest which was another great piece of history that I was able to cross off my list as something that I’ve always wanted to see and I’m going to definitely treasure. I’d also taken him to the Griffith Observatory, where so many films and television shows have been filmed as well as commercials.  The day that we went, it was closed and hardly anyone was around.  We just about had the place to ourselves.  I’d also taken us on a drive down from the Antelope Valley, where I’d been living, through the Angeles National Forest, where there are the most beautiful views I’ve seen along the lookouts and we landed in Glendale to have lunch at In and Out. You cannot come to LA without going to eat a hamburger at the In and Out Burger Restaurant, it’s a must. In and Out is like a religion in CA. Also for my 50th Birthday, in 2019, a small group of us went to Musso and Frank Bar and Grill and THAT just left me speechless.  Another bucket list place, where all the stars from the early years of Hollywood used to go and I’m sure today’s stars have lunch and dinner and WE sat in Marilyn Monroe’s booth!  I felt right at home there and cannot wait to get back. 

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ll begin by stating that my son is my number one fan, (he’ll be 24 in August), and when it came time to ‘make the leap’ to LA, he held my face in his hands and told me that I needed to do me and ‘go big or go home’.  He has been my cheerleader as well as my voice of reason.  In the early stage of my career, I would run all types of projects by him that I’d been offered.  I can remember at one point there was a reality show on the table.  He told me not to do it, that if I did that it’d make my career go sideways.  It’s funny now but at the time, he was serious.  He’s such an old soul and I absolutely love him.  Someone that has helped me over the last eleven (11) years, which feels like I’ve known him all my life is a gentleman by the name of Stan Forczek; Stan is now a CEO/Consultant; Advocate, Speaker and Advisory Board Chair for the National Infrastructure Bank Legislation. We met through LinkedIn when I was in the Energy and Utilities Industry in September, 2009, after I’d asked a question in a forum on the platform; he called me to answer my question and since then, we’ve maintained a strong business relationship but more-so an extremely invaluable friendship.  He has offered me guidance on many, many projects over the years as well as how to handle myself as a business woman and grow in the Corporate Sector. While he always tells me I’m his hero I feel that it’s his ability to convey a message to myself on the ins and outs of Corporate life that I have been able to succeed in the Entertainment Industry. I feel that he has been a great mentor to me and I feel that he is an asset no matter where he is in his career. Another individual that I would like to thank is Mr. Steve Blackwood.  For eleven (11) years, Steve played the role of ‘Bart Beiderbecke’ on ‘Days of Our Lives’.  He was Stefano DeMera’s henchman.  Steve was a key figure at a time in my life where I was working through a staffing agency barely making ends meet.  I would scrape together money that I may have had to take his classes each week or when I could and drive an hour to an hour and a half at times to take his Acting Classes either west of or north of Boston.  (he held his classes in two (2) different locations at the time).  I was terrified to be in his presence, in his class, amidst creatives that knew way more than I did, I felt, but Steve as well as my classmates cheered me on.  This man truly believed in me and told me after close to a year taking his classes that there was no more that he could teach me that I didn’t know.  He said that I needed to go to LA and start working as an actor.  He and a good friend of his, Teresa Spaulding, who is also studying with him and is a terrific actor told me I was ready and it was time.  I was floored and couldn’t believe it.  I went home that night and made a plan about what I needed to do and executed my plan in less than five (5) months.  It happened that fast.  I secured a talent agent and left the following April, 2015.  I didn’t know where I was going to live or what job I would have but I knew that I needed to go.  I had never felt more calm about making decisions and smart choices in my life except for having my son than being able to take Steve’s advice and making a decision that changed my life as well as my son’s life.  There have also been many very close friends of mine, since I arrived in Hollywood in 2015, where I needed to put my pride aside and ask for help in certain aspects of my career as well as my personal life.  Without these individuals, who I can’t name but they know who they are, I can tell you I would be sleeping in a van down by the river.  I feel that I have come such a long way in a short amount of time and am extremely happy with what I’ve accomplished and what I will be achieving in the very near future.  

Website: https://www.paulalauzon.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_mplauzon_/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/plauzon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauzonPaula
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulalauzon2015/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erKVP8WInXA&feature=emb_title
Other: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6340022/

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