Interview

ICYMI: Loren Lott Interview

Loren

Credit: CBS

Y&R’s Loren Lott Is Hitting Her Next Stride On Daytime

Loren Lott, who plays Y&R’s resident songbird, Ana Hamilton, was very young when her potential as a singer was discovered. “Before I could walk, the story goes that I started screaming when Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ came on,” she recalls. “My mother didn’t know what was wrong, so she called my grandmother and she said, ‘Wait, turn off the music.’ When my mom turned it off, I stopped and then she turned it back on and I started hollering again. My grandmother said, ‘Oh, she’s gonna be a singer.’ I think I had to have some type of on-pitch screaming for her to realize that.”

As a child, Lott was “well taken care of and very spoiled,” she shares. “I would say my childhood was pretty easy-breezy. Life was very happy, even overly optimistic, because my mom is very positive. We went on vacation several times a year and she would work five jobs to afford our lifestyle of traveling, which was very humbling to see.”

Lott also grew up with a built-in protector — twin brother Evan. “Being a twin, I think, is a really special experience that few people would understand,” she offers. “You always have a friend. When I would arrive at a brand-new school, a brand-new anything, I always had somebody with me. I was never alone. I actually had to learn as an adult to separate myself from Evan and gain some independence, especially with my twin being a man, because he ended up doing a lot of things for me.”

Something Lott did solo was pursue a career in performing. At the age of 7, she landed a role in a community theater production of Annie. “I was Molly and I stole the show, which I didn’t know at the time,” she notes. “People were coming up to me and saying, ‘You’re a star,’ but that part was made to steal the show. The experience made me aware that I enjoy being onstage. I enjoy the audience reaction. I enjoy hearing the laughs and the cries, and connecting with people. It’s like magic.”

However, any dreams Lott had for a career as an entertainer were quashed by her mother, Sharian, who warned that if her daughter became famous, she wouldn’t be able to visit her favorite amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm, without being mobbed by fans. “She really just wanted me to have a childhood,” Lott explains. “A lot of things were coming out about stars who had been on drugs and who had been abused. She knew that this industry can be corrupting and she didn’t want that for me because it steals your self-confidence.”

Lott bought the Knott’s angle but that didn’t stop her from hoping for stardom. Then came her 13th birthday, when she made an unusual gift request. “I asked for a subscription to
backstage.com,” she chuckles. “I had a lot of friends getting professional work and they were all using backstage.com to find their auditions or their agents, and I wanted to be a professional. I was hungry — and I was so dumb. I sent messages to 300 or so agents in L.A. and basically said, ‘I’m going to make it, I have the drive, I am a star, so either be a part of it or watch it happen.’ It was bold. I could never get away with that as an adult.”

Her audacity paid off and an agent took Lott on as a client. Soon, she was regularly chauffeured to Los Angeles (a two-hour commute without traffic) by either her mother or grandmother for auditions and she booked her first commercial. “It was for a product called Disney Sing It,” she remembers. “It was like a karaoke game. They would play the commercial in theaters and I thought I was so famous.”

After high school, Lott decided to attend Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. “I grew up in a very mixed, diverse world, but I also grew up not seeing that many people on TV with my look,” she acknowledges. “Seeing Brandy [Norwood] in CINDERELLA meant a lot for me and I realized that I didn’t know how to connect with my own people. So I decided to go to Atlanta and become a part of a majority and not the minority for once in my life. You know, not be a token.”

As Lott was being shaped by her college experience (“I became so confident and happy being myself, being my type of black”), she tried out for Season 14 of AMERICAN IDOL (see sidebar). Next was a move to New York City, where she joined Motown: The Musical and sang as a young Gladys Knight. “It was always my dream to be on Broadway and do it every day but it was really overwhelming,” she admits. “It was a lot of work and I can’t even say that I really got to enjoy it. I was overwhelmed with the whole experience of moving to New York and it all was just a blur. At the time I had a boo in Atlanta and I wanted to be with him. I was just ready to not be away from home anymore.”

A year later, Lott booked another Broadway musical, Once On This Island, and moved back to the Big Apple. “I was super-ready this time,” she smiles. “I knew about stamina, I knew how to budget, how to save, so I was ready.”

After that wrapped, Lott continued building a
resumé of TV roles before joining Y&R. “I grew up having to watch soaps,” she points out. “I remember when I heard, ‘These are the days of our lives,’ I’d be like, ‘No! I want to watch RUGRATS!’ But my family loves Y&R, so it’s a win for me.”

On the CBS soap, Lott quickly bonded with her TV brother, Bryton James (Devon). “He immediately took me under his wing and made me his little sister,” she raves. “I love him so much. He’s a good person and a really good friend.”

Lott’s extended family also includes Gilbert Glenn Brown, who plays Ana’s father, Jett Slade. “He’s so great and such a dad,” she beams. “I tell him everything and he’s always like, ‘Loren, you’re telling me too much.’ I’m like, ‘Wait, we have to connect in real life [laughs].’ We have a lot of fun. I just love being on Y&R. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

 

Just The Facts

Birthday: September 9

Born and Raised:
San Diego, CA

Middle Name: Sharice

Hey, Bro: Lott has one sibling, Evan, her twin brother. “I’m the annoying twin and he’s the smart twin. He got his engineering and physics degrees at the same time from two different universities. Thank God I’m on TV. I could never measure up.”

Highs And Lows: “I’m a roller-coaster junkie. My mother used to take us on these roller-coaster hunts around America.”

Her Best AMERICAN IDOL Performance: “Adele’s ‘Skyfall’. I made it really theatrical because I had on my big, fabulous Diana Ross wig that day.”

Worst Performance: “For my audition, I sang ‘Treasure’ by Bruno Mars. I had a lot of people telling me to add this and do that. Once I got into that room I was thinking about all of it, so I definitely didn’t feel like I did my best.”

Relationship Status: “I’m on the prowl. I have a crush, but that’s it.”

Favorite Dessert: “Apple pie. Give me apple pie!”

Any Pets? “Does my brother count?”

 

The American Way

Lott competing on AMERICAN IDOL almost didn’t happen. “I thought about going on it and then I thought, ‘Heck no. That just seems like too much pressure every week,’ ” she muses. Since Lott wouldn’t come to IDOL, the show came to her. “I got a call from my agent that a casting director from AMERICAN IDOL wanted me to audition because they were looking for a certain type,” she says. “I was like, ‘No,’ but after my agent talked to me, I said, ‘All right, I’ll try it.’ ” When Lott first auditioned before judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr. and Keith Urban, she was turned down. “I was so confident, but when I walked into that room and saw these celebrities, I was like, ‘Oh! What have I done?’ ” she sighs. “My knees started shaking and I still had to sing plus show my personality.” Before she could leave the building, Lott was asked to re-audition. “I sang again and they gave me a golden ticket,” she marvels. “It was a huge blessing.”

Lott performed weekly on the show and avoided elimination. “The judges were always positive, but right before I made it to the Top 24, Harry Connick, Jr. said about my performance, ‘I didn’t love it, but maybe I need to see more,’ ” she recalls. She even made it to the top 16, but was genuinely caught off-guard when she was ultimately sent home. “I was shocked because everything had been going so well,” she admits. “I had that first moment of, ‘Oh, things don’t happen the way that you want them to.’ I had watched everyone else get eliminated, so for me to get eliminated, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m someone else now.’ ”

 

Did You Know? 

• Lott has a BA in Mass Media Arts.

• She’s currently learning how to play the piano.

• She wants to be a Disney princess. “I would love to voice one or be a live-action princess in one of the movies. That’s such a dream. I want it!”

 

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