Whether you’ve seen her as Donna on That ‘70s Show or as Alex on Orange Is The New Black, chances are Laura Prepon has been on your radar for years. But becoming a famous actress and director took serious hustle and determination. Laura sat down with us this week to talk about where that hustle comes from, and how she taps into her inner strength when she faces a setback.
Danielle: I want to put this in perspective. You’re young, you're on a hit, hit TV show…You are making money. And I think that a lot of people probably would've been enjoying that and going out and kind of living it up. And instead, you are learning this whole new skill set and really thinking about the next step. Looking back on that moment in time for you, what was it that you think was pushing you to do that?
Laura: For me personally, I always had this drive where I don't want to just rest back. I want to learn as much as I can because one thing I did learn was, especially in my profession, when you get an opportunity- because it's so hard to get an opportunity that truly matters in a lot of different industries- when you get that opportunity, you have to kill it.
On Being Told “No”
Carly: What do you think is the best way to approach your supervisor or boss... when you do have that craft, when you have actually been working behind the scenes? How do you avoid the feedback of “stay in your own lane”?
Laura: I've gotten that feedback many times. Many times. And especially as a woman, let me tell you, wanting to break into directing... I was like, I want to direct. I want to direct. I want to direct… My own agent, who was representing me, knew I wanted to direct… One day, she looked at me and I was in her office, and she said, "Laura, look. It's never gonna happen."
…I was told things by my own team that it’s not going to happen. People are going to tell you no. People are going to think you can't do it... That cannot deter you. You have to just keep going. And that is something that I've learned by having the fortune to do this for over 20 years, and being told way many more times than I've been told yes, by the way. But you just have to keep going.
On Returning To Work Post-Baby
Danielle: You write that in society, there's a quote "macho" approach to maternity. You returned to set six weeks after giving birth to your first child. And you wore that as... a “badge of honor.” But that must have been really hard. How do you think about that pressure that you felt, or even the pride, to get back to work kind of as quickly as you can?
Laura: ...It was something that I really didn't realize I was doing. And that's not necessary. It's okay to admit that we don't have everything figured out. There's nothing wrong with that. We don't have anything to prove.
…The process of writing this book really allowed me to reflect on that, analyze it, look at it and realize that doesn't have to be the case. There’s also a certain aspect of you hav[ing] to believe in yourself and know your capabilities. I didn't have to put that macho approach on because I know that I've done enough of really hard work so that I will be able to handle the situation when I go back to work.
"You are your only advocate."
“I think when you have a crisis... it is kind of a unique opportunity to really think about what matters to the core of [a] business and rethink it.”
The comedian told us what to trust. Hint hint: your instinct.