Interview with Lori Hamilton, actor, writer, director

Lori Hamilton is a 'people-pleasing' one woman 'comedy recycling plant', who has two shows in season 2 of [email protected]

Interview with Lori Hamilton, actor, writer, director

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hi. I’m Lori Hamilton. Actor, writer, director.  I live in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. I like to think of myself as a comedy recycling plant. I take terrible things and recycle them into comedy!

What does a typical day look like for you?

My cats wake me up early to remind me that I am remiss in my treat distribution duties.  Then I do meditations and such. After that, it’s a free for all. I rehearse my August Fringe show about 8-10 hours a week, have a voice lesson, do Alexander technique and workouts. The rest is a combination of writing (I’m currently writing 2 monthly newsletters – one for comedy, one for my research/insights business, plus a movie script, a TV show and various animation projects).

What’s great about your job?

I’ve been supporting myself doing research since I was 18, and I’ve personally interviewed over 25,000 people from every walk of life all around the world. What’s great about my job is that I get to bring everyday heroes to light, telling stories and creating experiences that I hope bring laughter, insight and compassion to the world.

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

Here’s my writing process:

  • I have a writing assignment, from myself or for others. I have no ideas. I feel terrible about this.

  • I get a flash of inspiration about said assignment! Yay! I share it with others to great acclaim.

  • I sit down to write. I do not write. I do not write again. I set a deadline. At that point a random disaster hits – the cats barf on the rug, the toilet clogs, a client needs an emergency thing NOW.  Often, I injure myself on an inanimate object such as a stool or a door. Ouch! Clearly this happened on purpose. Damn you, inanimate objects!

  • I berate myself about not writing. Yelling and cheese is involved. If it’s really bad, I eat all the cookies. Because I feel badly about not writing.

  • I take a nap or a walk, even a shower – some kind of break.  While on the break, I get another flash of inspiration about how to write the thing.

  • I write the thing.

You would think after all this time, I would skip the injuring and berating myself part, but you would be wrong.

You are participating in season 2 of [email protected] Tell us about your show?

I have two shows.  The Corporate Knobs and Project Spudway.

The Corporate Knobs is a comedy variety show that gives you the TRUTH about work life. From How to Be a Bad Manager, Guess the HR Outcome, Real World Job Descriptions and Cat Co-Workers, you’ll see the hilarious and very real world of life in Corporate America. You can find out more about this at TheLoriHamilton.com & landalor.com  

Project Spudway is a collaboration with illustrator and animator Montana Hall and features lessons from Project Runway told through the eyes of animated potatoes. You’ll see the first episode featuring fashion guru Christian Siriano’s explanation of why we should design for all body types, not just the skinny French fry. Yams and hash browns add colour and flavour to the spud-tactic design show, complete with outtakes! You can find out about this at TheLoriHamilton.com

What should an audience expect when watching the show?

From the Corporate Knobs, you’ll get real tips on how to be a terrible manager or how to upstage your current manager. Also, real world job descriptions and visits from cat co-workers.

From Project Spudway, you’ll learn the importance of body acceptance through potato designers, some of whom resist the idea of dressing anyone who isn’t the skinny French fry.

How have you found the transition from live performance to online? Have you found it constrictive or has it allowed you to experiment more?

The Space UK has been absolutely fantastic in offering opportunities for me to create and perform during this time. Because it was put together quickly, my team and I just had fun and did what we wanted to do. There was a great deal of freedom in coming up with things we enjoyed and found funny, hoping the audience would do the same.

Do you think online performance will remain popular/necessary in the future?

I hope so. It’s such a different medium. It’s like the difference between a song and an opera, or a TV show and a movie. The restrictions of what can be done are very freeing, oddly, in that one is challenged to find ways to make it work. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and look forward to continuing online performing in the future.

How has it been working with theSpaceUK for this season? 

SO SO SO WONDERFUL. Is that too effusive for the UK audience? Imagine it in lower case. Everyone at The Space UK is such a dream to work with. From Charles, Nick, Karl – the entire team has done everything possible to make me feel welcome as a performer, to put together ways to connect and collaborate with other artists and to get the word out there about the shows. I feel so taken care of and valued as an artist. I am beyond grateful. The Space UK Fringe experience has been a delightfully experience and a super positive way to jumpstart the year.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

Singing with the Boston Symphony and Atlanta Opera, where I was let known that I don’t belong, cue snotty opera voice. “Why is she laughing? Oh, my throat!”

Being on TV with Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie. Such a consummate professional and just a darling person to work with.

Touring the United States as part of the National New Play Festival with my one-woman show, “Fairy Godmothers, Psychic Friends and Other Myth Information.”

Doing over 150 short films and various funny things for my website with my wonderful team.

How did you get into the industry?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

My mother was an actress and started me off young.  I was encouraged not to go into the arts in college in part by my mother and in part because my dad died my freshman year in college, so I had to start supporting myself. 

I consider myself quite fortunate that my day job involves essentially doing character studies – interviewing people about their everyday lives from laundry detergent to massive retirement program management. I then tell the stories of these people to decision-makers in Corporate America, which then helps them change the world for the better.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

As a child my mother nicknamed me “the child who ruined my life,” which set me on a path of people-pleasing in order to deserve love. Although I was given books and classes and access to all kinds of arts, the idea that I could or would have a chance to work as an artist was a pipe dream.  It took me a long time to recognize that this is my true calling that I love it so much it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, and to frankly find a new navigation system for my own happiness that allows me to find the fun and comedy in all that I’ve been through.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what? Is there more change you would want to see?

Yes and no. Stories are still stories. What I am seeing more of is TALK about including different voices – women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, etc. There are great intentions and some wonderful actions being taken. But the external culture we live in still has a way to go to catch up.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

It’s going to be OK. Listen to yourself. Notice what lights you up for no reason and follow that. It is truly your best guide.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in following your footsteps?

Find what you love and do that, even if it makes no sense and changes from day to day. Those little things that warm your heart and spark your imagination are the tiny lights guiding you to your path. Focus on the work and yourself. Be kind always.  (Talent + asshole = asshole), and find meaningful, specific ways to thank those around you who support your work and inspire you.

When and where can people watch your show?

Online any time! 

The Corporate Knobs https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/the-corporate-knobs

Project Spudway https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/project-spudway

And finally where can people find you?


You can watch The Corporate Knobs and Project Spudway as part of [email protected]

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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