Quickly rising to become one of the best social media creators (with the help of her little girl, Cleo) and a strong advocate for social and political issues, Laura Perlongo strives to create new content online while still staying true to her roots and down-to-earth personality.
The wife of internet hero and Catfish: The TV Show co-host Nev Schulman, and the mother of Cleo James, Laura balances family, friends, and her Creative Director and writing career in an effortless way. Co-hosting the Facebook video series We Need To Talk with her husband, she hopes to inspire and help others around the world who may be facing difficult times or situations. She is nominated for a Shorty Award this year for ‘Best Snapchatter’, known for taking the cutest and funniest videos and photos of her life and her family. She is most definitely on the road to becoming a major name in the media for her positivity, zest for life and creativity, and of course, sharing the best coverage of little Cleo.
We had the opportunity to speak with Laura and get all the details on her path through her career, her new experiences dealing with motherhood and marriage, and her opinions on social media.
Taylor Magazine: To start with, it would be great to know a little bit about you and what you do!
Laura Perlongo: Sure! I grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. We didn’t have much growing up but my parents made sure to take my siblings and I on lots of road trips. It really opened my eyes to what else was out there. I lucked out getting into Boston University on a 75% academic scholarship. It opened a lot of doors that I didn’t even know were there.
I initially studied Environmental Science, but then ended up switching to a Communications and Psychology major. My career really got started after school, when I moved to New York. I found this job that paid up to $100,000 a year if you were really good at it; it was a magazine sales job. I was so terrible at it though! I was really, really bad. I was told, “I’ve never seen anyone work harder, and sell less.”
For some reason they thought my emails were funny, so they started letting me write articles (mainly to justify paying me at all). But that was it. A very unglamorous beginning to my career as a writer. Today I’m a freelance creative director and writer in advertising, I have a Facebook video series with my husband Nev called We Need to Talk where we help people sort out relationship issues and we just opened a Matcha / Art Café in downtown Manhattan with my friend, artist Eric Cahan. It’s been a busy few months!
“Overall, I think writing is my main thing and it comes out in different ways, whether it’s advertising or a show. I make some art as well, but I wouldn’t call myself an artist.” – Laura Perlongo
Taylor Magazine: As you previously worked for Haute Living Magazine and Mother New York, for someone trying to begin working in the media, what are some tips you have for starting their career in such a fast-paced field?
Laura Perlongo: Everyone’s going to give a different piece of advice based on how their career has gone, but for me, it was the mentality of if something doesn’t work, let it go. Work as hard as you can, do what you’re doing, but always be open to change. If I didn’t think like that I’d be stuck hating my life in a sales job I was terrible at. It’s important to think “Oh, if I meet that person, or if I follow that lead, or if I give someone the time of day that normally nobody would, I could learn something from that and be smarter and better off.” My best advice is to be open with yourself and others, and allow the world to take you on a journey.
Taylor Magazine: We absolutely love your We Need To Talk Facebook video series! What was the method behind creating this series? Why do you think it’s important to discuss the tough relationship questions that people have?
Laura Perlongo: We Need To Talk got started because we have a good relationship with the media company ATTN:. They’re a social and political issues based media company largely for millennials, and they draw attention to some important topics. We knew we wanted to do a show together for a long time.
We had made some successful videos with them around parenting. As I was in the process of being pregnant and giving birth, there were all these questions I had that I realised other people that are having children have to deal with as well. I thought, why have I never heard about this? Why is there limited post-partum care for moms? Why are there no parental leave options available? So Nev and I started making videos to discuss some of these topics. People were responding really well to them!
We Need To Talk is a bit lighter. People write in and ask for our take on different relationship issues. We are far from an authority, but air out topics people often find uncomfortable to discuss. We liked the idea for the show because Nev and I caught a lot of criticism for our own relationship. We had a baby fairly quickly then got married and everyone said we would fail. But there are exceptions to the rule, and the show is fun because it highlights that nothing is ever black and white.
Taylor Magazine: We love that you’re on the newest season of Catfish! It’s great to hear your advice for the couples on the show and get a new perspective on these stories. How has it been for you to be on the show? Do you think you will be on future seasons as well?
Laura Perlongo: It’s a little bizarre for me because first of all, I didn’t just say “I want to be on Catfish!” but the show is shifting a little bit, they’re in their seventh season now, so they’re looking for new perspectives and also trying to travel a little bit less. The team were like, “Laura, you’re the reason Nev wants to be in LA more, so let’s include you!” I’m having fun with it – Nev always tells me the stories anyways and I’m shocked and so surprised, so basically we’re just filming those reactions now.
Taylor Magazine: Many people know you from social media and your adorable Cleo coverage… What have been the best parts of motherhood for you so far?
Laura Perlongo: Motherhood is a weird thing… I feel like it happens in stages and then you forget the hard thing that you just went through. Right when you have a kid, you have all these crazy hormones. You’ve just given birth, your hormones are whack, and you also have a new person you have to take care of. It’s scary, and your identity is different than before you gave birth; you have to figure out what parts of it can translate to now you with this baby.
So, that part was really, really hard and what I found to be helpful was to find things that I enjoyed doing, that I could also do with Cleo. To say it’s been smooth sailing in terms of always bringing her out, it’s not. She’s had her share of tantrums, but you just have to roll with it. I’ve noticed as long as I am still doing things for myself and taking care of my own brain, the better mother I am. So right now Cleo’s my plus one! We do stuff she loves too, don’t get me wrong. I’m realising kid stuff is fun too! We go to the park, hang out with the other mums, and it’s fun. But I hate the mommy and me classes. You have to be really in tune with yourself to know what you can do with your kid and not lose your mind.
Taylor Magazine: Have there been any major difficulties in parenthood that you’ve been faced with?
Laura Perlongo: The most difficult thing for me is not having as much time to myself. I’m freelance now, but when I was pregnant I had a full-time job at an agency as a creative director. I opted to go for freelance because it’s easier with a kid. But it’s really hard to re-prioritise your whole life. There’s an identity shift, you have to be open to putting selfish pursuits on pause a little bit. I really want to spend this time with Cleo and have very few spare moments, yet I’m constantly feeling like I’m not doing enough.
When everything is in flux, at least at the beginning, the right balance is almost impossible. Some days I feel like I’m killing it and am a power-mum but other days I feel like my house is a mess, I haven’t looked at my emails and I haven’t had time to look past my nose. I think that’s the hardest part.
“Just be okay with the fact that you’re not going to be killing it every day. Some days are hard, and you have to just be like “This day was hard,” but keep moving on to the next day.”
Taylor Magazine: What advice can you give to women who are beginning their brand-new chapter into motherhood? What tips would you give to someone who is going through a hard time?
Laura Perlongo: It’s hard because everyone is different. There are all these ‘Motherhood parenting rules’, but for me it’s just going with the flow and trying to make sure you’re prioritising yourself in addition to your baby. Whatever that means. Do whatever works for you – try to figure out what you like. For me, I know I have to get outside and do something physical. Even if it’s just a long walk. I make sure I do this with Cleo every day. Some people hate leaving the house with their baby! But they need an hour to take a bath, so whatever it is you need to do for yourself, don’t forget to do it because you matter too!
Taylor Magazine: So, when you’re not busy working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Laura Perlongo: I love going to the beach and go as much as I can. There’s something so calming about the waves and Cleo can go crazy and run as far as you can see, there’s no off limits for her. I’m a beach girl through and through – it’s so relaxing and peaceful.
Taylor Magazine: As Nev travels a lot for Catfish and you travel a lot for your career, how have you both balanced parenthood and your careers?
Laura Perlongo: On one hand Nev is travelling a lot for work so it sucks when he’s not around, but on the other hand when he’s home, he’s here 24/7 and he’s a full-time dad. When he’s gone I really try to cherish my time alone with Cleo. For four or five days, it’s pretty lovely. But when Nev comes home, he knows everything and has his time with her too. He knows how to do the morning routine etc and is as much of a parent as I am. Those days are my days to do whatever I need to do for myself.
This way of life almost seems easier to me. We miss each other when we’re away but have time for ourselves. When he comes back, we reconnect as a family. I find that when there are long periods of time when he’s not traveling, I miss my alone time with my girl.
Taylor Magazine: We loved the photos from your wedding in the Hamptons last summer! Have you always wanted to get married?
Laura Perlongo: Nev’s dad has a house there so we thought that it would be cheaper without a venue, but that didn’t end up being the case! As much as we didn’t want to spend any money on a wedding, we did want to be married so we sucked it up and went for it. I never really considered getting married, or even having a kid. I’m 32 now, and some of my friends are just starting to be in more serious relationships. Nev and I both have previously had a bunch of serious relationships that hadn’t worked out, and I think we just really clicked.
When we got pregnant after 7 months of dating, as much as I want to say it was an accident, it wasn’t. We had talked about it. We both just thought: “We want to have a family and we’re doing this!” We were focused on making ourselves do it because we both, deep down, knew it was right for us. We really loved each other very deeply from the beginning. Getting married just became a part of that. We wanted to have the commitment to each other and for our families to know that we were serious.
Taylor Magazine: What was your favourite part of your wedding day?
Laura Perlongo: I wish I could get married to Nev a hundred times! We did the formal ceremony part and then the cocktail hour and the photos and then afterwards, everybody changed and went to the beach. For me, I got the whole package – I got to have the formal wedding dress and all the nice moments with the ceremony and then the beach without all the forced weird dancing and stuff.
The best part for sure was my dad. He hadn’t been in the ocean in years; he has pretty severe anxiety when it comes to the water, and he said, “I’m not going in, I’m not going in!”. He had his shorts on, so I pulled him down to the ocean, and it turns out he had a swimsuit on under his shorts! He was ready to go! We went in the ocean together, and I was like “Alright, we did it!” He kind of wanted to stay in, but he’s not familiar with the ocean and how you have to know how to duck before going in too deep, and he got completely blown back by a wave! It took him off his feet, his hat flew off, the whole thing!
We were on a public beach, so there were a couple of paparazzi there. They got these photos of him falling, and they put them up and they called him an ‘elderly guest’. So now, we have this ongoing joke of him being the ‘elderly guest’ at the wedding. When he comes over, he’ll come in and joke, “the elderly guest has arrived!” So, the best part of the wedding was everybody really embracing an alternative wedding concept and having fun.
Taylor Magazine: We love keeping up with all of your travels and hilarious Cleo stories on social media. What’s the next step for you this year? Anything exciting coming up soon?
Laura Perlongo: We’re shooting the second season of We Need To Talk which is going to be really great. Facebook wanted to renew it, so we’re expanding. Each one will be 10-15 minutes. We’re bringing in therapists, counselors, professors and real couples to broaden the scope. I also have a couple other projects… One of them involves hot tubs, it’s going to be really fun! And Catfish is going to keep going, they’re making more. Watch this space!
Follow Laura Perlongo on Instagram or Twitter to keep up with her daily updates, and if you want to check out the first season of We Need To Talk and get ready for season two coming up, her Facebook has everything you need!