Interview!

ICYMI Laur Allen Interview

"The Young and the Restless" Set

Credit: JPI

When it comes to both her personal and professional lives, Laur Allen excels in team spirit, which is why she relishes her gig as Cane’s baby mama, Juliet, on YOUNG AND RESTLESS. “Working with a bunch of people in one scene is so much fun,” smiles the actress. “Those big dinner or meeting scenes are some of my favorite days on set because it’s interesting to see how everyone works. I’m absorbing the differences in people’s processes in acting, and I’m learning from them. It’s really interesting when there’s an ensemble cast and I see everyone’s nuances. It’s addicting and exhilarating.”

Episode # 11173

JPI

Camaraderie has been a running theme in Allen’s life, despite being an only child. “I always wanted siblings,” she admits. “When I was little, I would ask Santa for a sister every year, and I would always get a goldfish. But there are a lot of cousins, so I grew up really close to both sides of my family and there were lots of large dinners. One cousin was six months older than me, so we basically grew up together and he would do all the things brothers do.”

With her father’s European/Jewish background and a Chinese mother, Allen’s sense of self was shaped by diversity. “To me, a multicultural household was normal,” she shares. “I grew up celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Passover, Chinese New Year and regular New Year. Los Angeles is a melting pot, so I wasn’t afraid to tell people that I’m Chinese and European, which I think honestly contributed to who I am as a person. My perspective on a lot of issues is colored by the fact that I was raised with a duality in a lot of different areas of my life. My parents are opposites in religion, cultures and political views, so I grew up with an appreciation for differences.”

Allen was encouraged to keep busy from an early age. “Because I’m an only child, my mother wanted me to be socialized and involved in activities, so my schedule was always booked,” she explains. “I started piano at 4, basketball and ice skating when I was 5, and violin when I was about 8. My dad really likes archery, and that was something we used to do on weekends. My mom even built an archery range in our backyard.”

Although performing was a fun pastime (“I used to pretend that the stairs in my house were in the sinking Titanic, and I was trying to rescue myself”), Allen’s interest in acting was officially sparked during junior high after playing Daisy No. 2 in Through the Looking-Glass. Though she was focused more on team sports and academia in high school, she managed to sneak in some time to indulge her passion. “I went to a well-known acting studio in Los Angeles and lied that I was 18 so I could take classes,” she chuckles. “I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing, it was my little secret, and I just fell in love with it.”

Allen then attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN (“The traditional Southern aestheticism of country music and sun dresses was definitely a culture shock”), where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a double major in Communication Studies and Spanish, and a minor in Corporate Strategy. She moved back to L.A. and “really dove into production and the behind-the-scenes aspect of acting because I wanted to be near it. If I couldn’t act, then I wanted to be a part of what contributed to it, and I convinced myself that I really liked it. Still, that was something that didn’t fulfill me.”

A year later, Allen ran for Miss Los Angeles Chinatown and won (see sidebar), and turned to her court of princesses for support. “The first day after I was crowned, I said to them, ‘Listen, we’re a team now, what can we do to make this year the best for all of us?’ ” she relays. “I still had my full-time job in production, so I was averaging four events a week either before or after work. It was a big commitment and I really wanted to maximize this opportunity.”

At the end of her reign, Allen was invited to represent Los Angeles in the Miss Chinese International Pageant and headed to Hong Kong, which turned out to be a life-altering experience. “It totally changed my whole perspective on acting because in China the pageants are run by the major television studios,” she marvels. “It was kind of like working in the old Hollywood studio system. It was crazy because we were actually working for the studios, not just participating in a pageant. The night before the event, they said, ‘Okay, everyone, let’s have a good show!’ They didn’t see it as a competition but as entertainment, and then I realized, “Oh, my God — I’m a part of a show!’ ”
Allen didn’t cop the big title (but was awarded Miss Friendship) and returned stateside with a whole new attitude. “I went to my boss and said, ‘I’ve changed and I really want to explore a different path that I’ve always known that I was interested in,’ and I got the okay to do that,” she declares. “I’ve been pursuing acting ever since.”

Not surprisingly, her parents were dubious about her career path, one marked by instability and margin for failure. “They were really scared for me,” Allen admits. “Every other week they were asking me about my backup career, but I told them, ‘You know, this is my choice and I want to do this.’ I think when parents disagree with you, it’s because they honestly just want the best for you but ultimately, they trusted me.”

After some minor parts, Allen landed the role of Juliet, which started as an eight-episode run. “I read with a casting associate on a Friday and I was booked that following Tuesday,” she recalls. “I didn’t even have a callback or a screen test. The first day I came on the set, Mal [Young, executive producer/head writer] said to me, ‘We don’t really know where we want to go with this character, so feel free to play around, and we’ll direct, either we want that or not. In the meantime, you have the opportunity to make your mark with this character.’ I said, ‘Okay, thanks!’ And now it’s been 65 episodes and counting, so it’s been such a wild ride ever since.”

Did You Know?
• Allen is a trained sniper. “I used to do tactical training for weapons just because I think it’s empowering, and I figured the next step would be sniping. So, I went to Arizona and learned from Marines not only how to shoot, but doing calculations and counter-sniping, which involves camouflaging yourself in a mountain for hours. It was a really valuable experience and I’d recommend it to anybody.”
• She took extension classes in law “just for fun.”

Crowning Glory
To connect more with her roots, Allen’s mother urged her to compete for Miss Los Angeles Chinatown (r.). “She grew up in the Chinese community and she wanted a way for me to find that community,” Allen explains. “So, she suggested, ‘Listen, there’s a pageant, nothing has to come out of it, but at the very least, you can get to know the community that I grew up in.’ My grandparents are also very involved in it, so I said, ‘Okay, at the very least I get to learn more about this aspect of my life.’ I ended up winning and I was the first multiethnic queen in its 47 years.” For the next year, Allen made a whirlwind of official appearances. “Anything that involved the Chinese community in the capacity of politics, culture, philanthropy and business, we were involved in,” she enthuses. “I not only got to learn all about the Chinese community, but it was the first time I’d ever been in a position where my face was part of the product. That really gave me a confidence, knowing that I could be a positive influence on other people and I didn’t always have to be behind the scenes to make an impact. It was really nice to know that people came directly to me to be the face of their philanthropy, to help them raise money for a good cause, to make an impact in the community in one way or another. It was a really insightful time in my life.”

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Just The Facts

Birthday: March 9

Home Grown: Born at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. (“just down the street from CBS”) and raised in Pasadena.

Folk Laur: “My birth name is Lauren, and I wanted to take my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Allen, for my stage name. She’s 101 now and was the one person in my family who really understood why I wanted to be an actress. I thought Lauren Allen would sound common,
so I shortened my first name.”

Relationship Status: Her boyfriend, James, is anentertainment lawyer. “He comes from the exact same cultural background as me, so we have a lot of understanding of each other. We’re also both very diligent and push ourselves really hard.”

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When It Comes To Cooking… “I’m getting better at it [laughs]. I’m a very healthy eater. I grew up eating lots of vegetables, chicken and fish, so I’m trying to get more creative by learning new recipes.”

Pet-Agree: “Amber is a rescue pit bull. She’s pretty cool. She and I spend a lot of time together.”

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