Interview: Lauren Denham of Lauren Learns Life

by Ceylan Kumbarji

You may have heard of Every Ella, a brand bringing women together through fashion and community. For every item purchased through the site, $3 would be donated to any charity focused on women. The mastermind behind this beautiful organisation? Lauren Denham of Lauren Learns Life.

We love the concept of Every Ella and when we got the chance to speak to Lauren, we were so excited. It’s not just Every Ella that she should be proud of. Having gained a masters degree in Broadcast Journalism in London, Lauren worked on all things journalism and got the chance to work at major corporations such as The BBC. When she moved back to LA, a career in acting was playing on her mind: “Broadcast journalism and acting have very similar features – you’re behind the camera, you’re telling a story, you’re using the entertainment side of yourself.” 

From here, Lauren has had the opportunity to work with the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey. As well as this, she’s started a new venture, Lauren Learns Life, which focuses on her own personal voice, providing inspiration to others. Find out more about Lauren’s journey into acting, her advice on what to do when you’re having a bad day and what to expect from Lauren Learns Life

“You get one life, so do what you want to do.” – Lauren Denham

Taylor Magazine: Firstly, tell us about you and what you do…

Lauren Denham: I’m from Florida originally, but I moved to London to get my masters degree in Broadcast Journalism. I’ve always been naturally curious and interested in people, so after my masters I moved out to LA and was an actress for a while – I did a lot of TV shows, which was really fun. I quickly burnt out on that because I felt that I had a lot of pressure from agents and managers to lose weight and look a certain way. I realised that that wasn’t the message I wanted to send out to people. From there, I knew I wanted to use my voice for a greater purpose – it just wasn’t what I thought it would be.

I transitioned from acting and founded Every Ella, which is a lifestyle brand for girls with an aim to empower women. Now, I’m building my own thing, which is called Lauren Learns Life. I’m primarily a writer and I’m working on an essay collection with all of the life lessons that I’ve learnt over the past couple of years. I try to bring inspiration, empowerment and give back to people. I’m working my own show and podcast soon, which is the next big thing. I’ve also been working alongside Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga – so I’m really busy at the moment! Meeting these people has been life changing and I’ve learnt so much from just being around them and interacting with them. A lot of my book will be about working with them and being the little guy looking up.

Taylor Magazine: That is really cool – so you’ll be reflecting from an outsider’s point of view?

Lauren Denham: Exactly: when you come across mega-stars, you really don’t know what to expect meeting them. With Oprah in particular, she lived up to what you would expect her to be and more – this is definitely what makes her so authentic and successful. No matter where you see Oprah – speaking, on TV or in real life – that is who you’re going to get.

Taylor Magazine: When you moved to LA, was your passion initially in acting?

Lauren Denham: It was, yes. I guess, first and foremost, I’m a storyteller by nature. After my studies, I decided that I wanted to give acting a shot. I figured ‘you only live once’ and I might as well give acting a go. I worked really hard on it when I came to LA and had some success but through life you evolve, grow and sometimes your passions change.

Taylor Magazine: Did you always know that you wanted to be in the story-telling world?

Lauren Denham: I knew, for definite, that I wanted to come back to LA. Entertainment was always something I wanted to be involved in, because I grew up watching a lot of TV. As you grow up, you go back and forth with lots of different ideas. I thought about going to law school but I’m really glad I didn’t do that! The core of me has always wanted to connect, inspire and create conversations – it’s always been my purpose. I read something recently that said: ‘Always fulfil your purpose, as your passions over time will change.’ That is so true because I’ve gravitated to so many different things so far throughout my life. I’ve had lots of different passion projects, but my purpose to connect with people has never changed.

Taylor Magazine: What’s the best part of what you do?

Lauren Denham: Instagram has been really fun for me because it gives me an outlet to connect with people. I sometimes feel silly for the stuff I post, because I don’t always post pictures of me and my friends, but I get so many direct messages from people that really needed to see what I had posted at a certain point in their lives. That’s what keeps me going, because it makes a difference.

Taylor Magazine: What is the more challenging part of what you do?

Lauren Denham: Turning it into a business and making a living out of it is difficult. Building your own platform and proving that you’re worthy over other well-established writers is a challenge but not impossible.

Taylor Magazine: Now a little bit about Every Ella – that’s how Taylor Magazine actually found you originally! How did the idea come around?

Lauren Denham: I first got the idea for Every Ella when I was transitioning out of acting. I had experienced so much pressure from every angle to look a certain way. My body had been absolutely scrutinised. I had been told some very harsh things that no young girl would ever want to hear. I didn’t want to be a part of that and wanted to use my voice to help and empower women. I created a list of everything I like to do and from there, Every Ella was born.

My goal was to just create a dialogue, start conversations and make girls more confident and secure in who they are, as well as helping them to have that motivation and drive to change the world and be who they are and who they want to be. Giving back to charity was of course a really fun and rewarding part too.

When women come together, work really hard and are focused, the opportunities are endless.” – Lauren Denham

Taylor Magazine: Why did you decide to stop Every Ella

Lauren Denham: I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth the past three years. I read somewhere that if you know when to leave, your life will be so much better and you’ll be so much more successful. I felt that my journey with Every Ella had ended and my own personal journey was moving forward. Every Ella was doing really well, but I felt that my strength as a person could be used in better ways. I think my own personal voice comes out a lot clearer through Lauren Learns Life. In terms of being true to myself and my strengths, I could do that better through Lauren Learns Life. I still impact the same type of people, but I’m putting myself out there more. I got to the point where I grew enough and I knew that I could be more of myself and fulfil my purpose. It was terrifying, but there was a level of connection that I wasn’t getting. There were topics and discussions I couldn’t have through Every Ella. I’m really excited to put the journalism hat back on and to start telling people stories and creating conversations and discussions.

Taylor Magazine: How did Lauren Learns Life come around?

Lauren Denham: I started writing and working on this about 2 years ago. I went through a serious health scare a few years ago – I was having sweats, fevers, chills, etc. I had to leave production early because I knew something was terribly wrong. I was in and out of hospitals for months – I was rushed to the E.R and was put on heart monitors. It was crazy! Eventually, they found out it wasn’t cancer, but I had a lump on my thyroid which they thought was cancerous. I went through such a scare but in the end it turned out to be sub-acute thyroiditis, which is an auto-immune attack on your body, but it’s extremely rare so that’s why no-one could figure out what it was.

After going through that, it changed my life. I became completely fearless with what I wanted to do and realised that life is so short and precious. I have to do what my heart and gut want to do. I have always written quotes and inspirations and keep them in my notes. I would never share them with anyone before but now, I don’t care what people think and put all of these messages out there. You get one life, so do what you want to do. Every time I have a bad day, I pull from that experience. If you feel something in your gut that you have to do, you have to let it out. Creating this discussion and something I’m passionate about is just something I have to do.

Taylor Magazine: What is your favourite or most rewarding project you’ve worked on so far?

Lauren Denham: Every Ella was incredibly rewarding because it gave me the confidence in myself to keep moving forward. Working with Oprah has been absolutely unbelievable. It sounds weird but I always knew that I would meet Oprah one day, I just knew it! I worked with Oprah for a week, but she is just such a beautiful person. I felt so comfortable around her because she is just so open.

Taylor Magazine: How do you manage so many different things at once?

Lauren Denham: I get burnt out so much. It’s hard. When I’m on a movie or show, the hours are long so it’s really hard for me to focus on other things. During my down time, I’m making the most of my time. I always take a day for me, even if it’s Saturday or Sunday. I stay in bed and I don’t work or get up – I just have a me day. Taking days to yourself is so important – your health and happiness is crucial. 

Taylor Magazine: We’re about minimalist life and simple living. Is that something you try to practice yourself?

Lauren Denham: I am so big on minimalism! I wear the same 10 outfits all the time. Simplifying your life changes everything. I think you’re so much happier when you have less. It’s a new venture for me but I realise that I just don’t need lots of stuff. I helped my friend move and she had so much stuff, so I kept telling her “less is more!” We went through all of her stuff, she would pitch to me why she needed something and I would tell her yes or no to keep it. In terms of your mind too, I’ve started doing yoga and getting in touch with myself mentally and clearing that clutter out. Yoga really helps to keep my mind clear.

Taylor Magazine: If you were having a bad day, what would lift you up?

Lauren Denham: When you’re ending a chapter and beginning a new one, you go through highs and lows and recently I’ve been going through that lately where I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. What has pulled me out is having a routine – I set my schedule for the day, work out and do yoga, eat healthily and just feel good about my body and myself. Those days you don’t feel good, just feel it and embrace it. As a culture we’re so obsessed with being happy. 

“Sometimes you’re not happy – that’s reality. You cannot be happy every day. If you’re not feeling good one day, that’s ok. If you’re having a bad day, that’s ok. Try again tomorrow.” 

Taylor Magazine: How would you describe your perfect day?

Lauren Denham: My perfect day would be to lay in bed for a little bit, chill out, make some oatmeal. I would go for a hike – I love getting out into the mountains. I would hang out with friends, watch Netflix, do some writing. I would also do some travelling, I absolutely love seeing new places. The simple life!

Taylor Magazine: Your trip to Italy looked amazing! Where was your favourite place on that trip?

Lauren Denham: I have a little obsession with Venice because I just feel there is no where else like it in the world. To me, it’s so special. I’ve seen so many beautiful landscapes and cities but there is nothing like Venice. I also love New York – growing up in America you tend to dream of faraway lands, but New York is so cool and it’s literally in our backyard. There’s such an energy there that I can’t explain. My goal one day is to live there for a couple of months and embrace the culture.

Taylor Magazine: What should we be looking out for from you?

Lauren Denham: Hopefully my book should be ready soon! I’m really excited. Also, the Lauren Learns Life podcast and show too. I’ve noticed that people have different outlets that they prefer. It will be me and a guest, usually an expert or thought-leader, and I’ll be learning about things I’m curious about and covering topics and subjects that I believe others will be interested in as well.

I really want to do a piece on Instagram because I read somewhere recently that people using Instagram are actually more depressed, which I think is really upsetting. I completely see both sides – it’s such an unrealistic portrayal of our lives. I’ll subconsciously see people I look up to and think, “How do they look so good” or “How do they have so many followers”. It’s a natural instinct to question and compete, which can send you into a black hole. On the other side, it can be such a powerful tool for community, empowerment and inspiration. I want to create that discussion, because it’s so interesting.

Taylor Magazine: What’s your favourite book?

Lauren Denham: I love one of Oprah’s books called What I Know For Sure, which is really powerful. I found it so inspiring! There’s also a book called The Last Lecture about life lessons after being diagnosed with cancer – it was so moving!

Taylor Magazine: Favourite film?

Lauren Denham: I absolutely love The Lion King and The Princess Bride. 

In the midst of the madness, don’t forget to live. I think life can be overwhelming and it always tries to pull you different ways, so just live and don’t worry so much about all the chaos that is going on around you.”

Keep up to date with Lauren and her work by checking out her website, and following her on Instagram and Twitter.

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