Lauren Ashley Smith and Jana are buddies from the New York City improv comedy scene. Lauren, a Black woman and queer person worked on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live as a Senior Producer for many years before she became a writer for BET's The Rundown with Robin Thede. She is officially the second ever Black woman Head Writer on a late-night television show which calls for some celebration! Lauren moved from St. Louis, Missouri where she was raised by two scholars doing diversity-building work at the university level and as the eldest of three awesome and accomplished sisters.
Lauren and Jana discuss Lauren's start in NYC with the Story Pirates and watching incredible improvisers like Peter McNerney, Leslie Korein and Nick Kannelis. From them, she began taking classes at the Magnet Theater (for which they both highly advocate if you're interested in studying comedy) and rose to house team level. Lauren has been a fierce advocate for inclusion at the Magnet and in the comedy community in New York in partnership with the Magnet's artistic director, Megan Gray as well as the instructors at the Magnet Training Center. Belonging to the Magnet community was fundamental to the successes of both Lauren's and Jana's careers and the two shout out the work of the Magnet in helping students develop our comedic voices.
Lauren gives some of the best career advice Jana has ever heard about the entertainment career. Some of this industry advice is getting tired and boring but Lauren's advice is clear, precise and comes from a place of experience and expertise. READINESS! The need to be ready for opportunity when it knocks isn't promoted enough. Let's start being prepared for the jobs we want, slowly getting more experience in the fields in which we want to work and express ourselves!
Lauren's One Cool Thing is the iPhone game Design Home where you get to design rooms in homes! Jana highly recommends this app for her roommate Lauren who loves to switch around their actual apartment furniture as her own design games. Jana's One Cool Thing is the app giphycam, an app where you make your own gifs, recommended to her by friend and correspondent on Comedy Central's The Opposition, Laura Grey.
You can watch Lauren Ashley Smith's work on The Rundown with Robin Thede on Thursday nights at 11pm on BET. You can also follow Lauren on twitter @msLAS.
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