Tampa native hits big screen

Oracle Scene caught up with Tampa native Lauren Mayhew to discuss her new film, her music, and making it from Tampa Bay to Hollywood:

Oracle Scene: So, tell me about your new movie and your character.

Lauren Mayhew: Well, the movie’s called Raise Your Voice and Hilary plays Terri Fletcher, and she wants to go to this really prestigious musical academy called Bristol-Hillman. I’m one of the students there, and I’m basically her archrival throughout the entire movie. I’m her nemesis. I’m evil to her. I do very evil things to her.

OS: So, what was it like to play the bad girl?

LM: It was a lot of fun actually. It’s different, you know, because you get to kind of experiment more, have some fun with it or whatever, but I definitely had fun doing it. You know, it’s a little bit of a different side that you don’t always get to do in real life.

OS: The bad girl is a staple of teen movies. Did you do anything to try to make your character stand out?

LM: I definitely didn’t look to any other people, you know, how they played that type of girl or whatever. I just kind of pulled it from my own experiences. I don’t really think there’s a person in America who hasn’t come across someone in high school or something that was that for them. Just kind of like mean, or not nice for no reason or whatever. Everyone has encountered one of those people. I used my own experiences and brought that to the table. I think with Robin, it’s not so much that she’s just mean as that she just feels threatened, you know? It’s like the jealousy — she just snaps, and she just acts spiteful and vengeful because of the fact that she’s just so jealous and the fact that her world is being turned upside down right now. So, that’s kind of difficult for her.

OS: What do you think makes Raise Your Voice different from all the other recent teen movies?

LM: I think it’s different because of the fact that it’s not really just a teen movie. It really is for all ages, and really everyone can enjoy it, which is really cool. Also I think that it’s really interesting that there are so many different types of music in the movie since it is based around a musical academy. It’s kind of like a new version of “Fame.” They have so many different sounds of music, and I think that kind of brings something else to the table, too, that music lovers can enjoy as well.

OS: And I think the story also plays a lot more realistically than a lot of other teen movies.

LM: Yeah, it definitely does, and it had a much more real feel to it. Most people were like “Oh, my God, it was so sad.” You know, most teen movies are very light-hearted. This one gets much more into the character development and was much more interesting because of that. The stakes are higher.

OS: How was the experience of making the film?

LM: It was great. It was so much fun. Everybody on the set was amazing; everybody was really nice. The director was awesome. He let us have a lot of ability to experiment and do what we wanted with our characters, which was really cool. It was all-around a very positive experience.

OS: Do you have any particularly fond memories of shooting the movie?

LM: All of them were really good. John Corbett and Johnny Lewis kept us laughing the entire time. John Corbett played the music teacher in the movie, and Johnny Lewis played Kiwi in the movie, which is Jay’s best friend. They’re just absolutely hilarious. There was never a dull moment, just hanging out with them. All of it was great.

OS: The movie’s set at a music school, and I know you’re a singer. Do you have any formal musical training?

LM: I’ve taken classes like here and there. Not really anything specific that I can be like “I do this way.” I was in a band for three and a half years called PYT signed to Epic, so I had a lot of musical experience and background and stuff from there, especially performing, you know? You toured for the majority of that time, but besides that, as far as actually taking lessons, off and on but not anything continuous.

OS: How was it making the transition from singer to actress?

LM: Fun. I kind of have done both like my whole life. It wasn’t just like I’d been doing music my whole life and then switched. It was like I had kind of been doing both simultaneously. I started off singing at fairs and stuff like that, then I started doing plays which was a combination of the music and the acting, and then I booked a soap opera, Guiding Light, which I was filming in New York. Then I did the music stuff with PYT, and then I went back to the acting. So, whenever the acting was going slower or there wasn’t much going on, I’d pick up the music and run with it. Or vice versa, you know? And always make sure that I was doing something.

OS: Always have something going.

LM: Exactly.

OS: What part of Tampa are you from?

LM: I’m from Carrollwood, North Tampa.

OS: Are you in school right now?

LM: Yeah, I am. I go to UCLA. We actually haven’t started our semester this year. We start December 28.

OS: Is it cool to come back after making albums and movies?

LM: It’s great. It’s so nice. I see my friends and everything else. It’s wonderful to be home because as much as I love California, it definitely has nothing on Florida’s beaches, and I’m such a beach bum. When I come back here, I love to come back and just go to Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach and see my family and my friends, even though a lot of my friends actually are all spread out now because they’re all in college and stuff, but there are still some that are here in town. So, it’s good to see them when I get to come back.

OS: How does your family feel about your success?

LM: They are so supportive. I really couldn’t have done any of this without them. It definitely wasn’t just an effort by me but an effort by all of my family because they all had to give something up for me to be able to achieve my dream. It wasn’t easy because my mom was always traveling with me, and I have a younger sister, so she didn’t always have her mom there, and my dad didn’t always have his wife there and stuff, which is difficult, but we made it work, and they just couldn’t be prouder of me. It’s a really wonderful feeling to know that they’re behind me and support me like that.

OS: Do you like all of the traveling back and forth?

LM: You know what? It keeps life exciting. I do in a way. I don’t really like planes. I don’t really like the actual flying part of it as much, but I really do like traveling, and I enjoy it a lot. I love the touring because that way we just drive everywhere which is great. But, yeah, I definitely like it because it keeps things new and fresh and keeps life exciting. I meet so many new people that way, which is really fun for me.

OS: Do you have any advice for any locals striving to make it in show business?

LM: I would say don’t let somebody tell you that just because you’re living here and stuff like that you can’t do it because I made it happen. I made it work out and everything. Ultimately, there isn’t really that much that you can do here. There are a few things, but if you’re really serious about it, you really are going to have to move out to New York or L.A. at some point. You can’t afford it; you really need to, but don’t get discouraged. Just because it’s not happening at first doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Most actors, probably 90% of them that you talk to- there’s 10% of the lucky ones that you just want to kill because they booked the first thing they went on and they went to superstardom. That rarely happens. Most actors go through dry spells. They go through times where they doubt themselves, and other people doubt them. You have to just make your way through that and see past it. If they can, then hopefully, they’ll be able to get to where they want to be.

OS: Are you continuing with your music as well?

LM: Yes, after the movie, I started recording a bunch of music that I’ve been writing and I’m trying to get my demo done by the time the movie comes out so I can go around and shop it to different labels. I thought what a better time then when all this publicity is out, and the movie is out in theaters for me to go and tell all these different label executives. I’ve been excited. It’s coming out amazing, so it’s pretty exciting.

OS: Are you planning on doing any more acting in the near future?

LM: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been hosting for “Access Hollywood,” I’m still doing that. As far as other acting projects, I have other things that are in the works that I may or may not be doing right now, but nothing set down in stone, but I’m out in L.A. auditioning and going out for other stuff, so hopefully there’ll be something new on the horizon soon.