We had the good fortune of connecting with Paula Lauzon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paula, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born Maria Paula Lauzon, in Fall River, Massachusetts, USA. My mother is the late Maria A. Lauzon, born in Relva, Sao Miguel Island (a homemaker and seamstress) and my father is the late Paul M. Lauzon, born in Fall River MA (a former U.S. Postal Worker).
In its heyday, Fall River was a thriving cotton mill city rich in history for the region.
It is also the former birthplace and former home to many people in the Entertainment Industry that have made their way here. Actors such as Nancy Sorel, Wendy Moniz-Grillo, Glen Vernon, myself and Pamela Jayne Morgan; Writer, George Higgins; Director, George Holt; Jerry Remy, former second baseman with the AL’s California Angels and Boston Red Sox, now Broadcaster for The Boston Red Sox; Sesame Street Composer, Joe Raposo;
World-Renowned Chef, Emeril Lagasse and George Stephanopoulos.
My upbringing along with my siblings was a bit rough, and it was in my home where my love for film and acting began; this was instilled by my parents, whose passion for film ranged from Spaghetti Westerns to classic horror, suspense, musicals, and iconic films like Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and King Kong. In film, I found a safe place for myself where I could feel as if I were part of the story.
I was inspired by classic Hollywood icons such as Myrna Loy and Lucille Ball. As I navigated my life’s paths, I finally had an opportunity to cut my acting teeth in community theatre. I had the most wonderful experiences appearing in The Little Theatre of Fall River productions of, ‘Titanic: The Musical’, ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’, ‘Spamalot’, and, ‘Oklahoma!’.
I had begun learning about acting through Master Acting Classes with former Days of Our Lives star, Steve Blackwood. Here, Steve and his students, accepted me, and allowed me to grow and learn about myself and the craft. I continued acting in local theatre and music videos, including The Portuguese Kids, ‘Thrift Shop Parody’, which was filmed in Fall River MA.
In 2015, I’d made the leap to commercial work, and quickly became recognized as a diverse character actress both in film and on television shows such as A&E’s, ‘Cold Case’, Oxygen’s, ‘True Crime Stories, Murder Book Mystery’ and Lifetime Movie Network’s comedic episodic series, ‘My Crazy Sex’.
I can be seen in a variety of national ads from Lyrica (print ad), as well as TV/video ads. My face has become quite familiar in Ring’s, ‘Secure Mani/Pedi’ Commercial, Jardiance, Glucerna, and Chase.
I have had roles in student films and short films, all of which have been submitted and won various awards at Film Festivals around the Country and Cannes. I’d also spent my first year in LA doing a lot of background work in Film and Television, working on lots such as Paramount and Warner Brothers. I learned so much on these sets, because I got to watch how production worked and mechanics of putting a project together. It was so intriguing to me.
I had taken classes at various schools in Burbank, and briefly studied with Anthony Montes. As well, I was also tutored by the well-regarded Brionne Davis.
In July, 2019, I’d made my way back to the East Coast, arriving in North Carolina. Here, I opened The Durham School of Acting, along with HarLau Casting. I also decided to open my film production company, HarLau Productions, in the middle of a pandemic. I currently split my time between LA and NC, and am currently in development of my film, ‘Inimicus’ along with optioning a slate of films with a budget of $12.3MM.
I am also a Member of the Television Academy, and am judging again for this years, 48th Annual Daytime Emmy® Awards for ©The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Burbank International Film Festival, The Raleigh Film and Art Festival, and The Experimental Film Festival.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My production company is dedicated to the production of feature and short films. I have been collaborating with artists, filmmakers, screenwriters and other creatives from around the country to create incredible stories. At the beginning of May, I will be directing a pilot written by young man here in NC. It’s a martial arts fantasy and was well-written and a great way for me to expand my directing genre, which is why I wanted to be a part of this.
My team’s creative approach for every production is a dynamic collaboration in visual storytelling. Each project consists of treatment (script), and when finalized, we use this document as a blueprint to begin the detailed pre-production process.
We focus on crucial project elements such as set design, lighting, makeup, wardrobe, music and overall dynamic visual style. We work extremely hard in pre-development, obsessing over the details and we ensure that we’re 100% ready to execute the concept for our film as well as the films that we’re hired to direct and produce.
I’m also in development of my film, ‘Inimicus’. This feature film is about a former soldier who has struggled to reintegrate into normal life after several tours of duty overseas. Despite his best efforts, his inner demons take center stage as his wife and friends try desperately to keep his PTSD from consuming his life. This film shines a light on the very real trauma that so many of our military veterans that return from the battlefield, face daily. It also offers a platform to bring this very serious issue to the screen. I am bringing awareness to the signs of PTSD and that there is help available as well as enabling the sufferers the knowledge of what tools are available for them. Family and friends of veterans will be able to see and understand their loved ones in this film. 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 to produce 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 to return profits to the film’s investors and all 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 with a production company located in Utah;
I have been fortunate enough to have private investors in my projects, that believe in me as well as my mission statement.
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.
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.
When my son came to visit in May, 2018, I had mapped out in my head, where I wanted to take him. I took him first to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and then went for a walk to look at the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We went across the street to an old pub attached to a hotel there that had some great burger and fries. I then took him for a drive to the Griffith Observatory which he loved and then through Beverly Hills back towards Hollywood Boulevard. While at a light there, Natalie Portman pulled along side of us. The people in this industry that I would see when I am in traffic or at the supermarket was very cool to me. I grew up watching actors in a television and now I’m among them.
There was another day that we took a drive up to Sequoia National Park for Mother’s Day. That was the best. I’d seen those tress in so many movies over the decades and now we were there, looking at them and touching them.
Another place we’d gone with friends, at a different time for my 50th birthday, (yes, I’m 52 now), was The Musso & Frank Grille. Just another historic landmark I’d seen in so many films growing up and here I was, sitting in Marilyn Monroe’s booth, with my boyfriend and best friends. I sure took my time in there ordering and eating my meal. I had visions of who sat where with whom and when. It was great.
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’ll begin by stating that my son is my number one fan, (he just made twenty-four (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 and 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 businesswoman 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, in order to take his classes each week or when I could and drive an hour to an hour and a half sometimes 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 what I felt was more than I did but Steve as well as my classmates cheered me on. This man truly believed in me and told me after close to a year of taking his classes that there was no more that he could teach me that I didn’t already 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 was 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 planned what I needed to do and executed it 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 calmer 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.
The next individual I’d like to offer a special thank you to is Brionne Davis. He is an actor, a well-regarded acting teacher and is a dear friend and mentor in my life. He teaches a Cold-Read class on Saturdays at the Anthony Gilardi Acting Studio Online. Brionne saw something in me and believed in me when I was a student in his class. While I had a difficult time coming up with money for his classes as well, he allowed me to explore the craft. He offers great feedback in his classes. He serves as a mentor and teacher in his community and he is committed to his students in the work that he puts into his classes and private sessions. He was and still is a huge influence in my 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.
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