Order in the Court! All Rise for Judge Lauren Lake.
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Lauren Lake has done it all – music, TV, books, law, interior design – and she says it’s all because of her appearances on The Ricki Lake Show! Lauren tells Ricki and Kalen about the dating docuseries she was in that caught the attention of TRLS producers, her time as a life coach and relationship expert on Ricki’s show, and how those appearances led to Lauren laying down the law on Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court and We the People with Judge Lauren Lake. Plus, Lauren reflects on the pressures put on Black women in the TV industry and how she pushes back against them with her signature wit, strength, and style.
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Ricki Lake, Kalen Allen, Lauren Lake
Ricki Lake 00:14
Well, hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. I’m Ricki Lake and I am here for another episode of Raised by Ricki with my good friend Kalen Allen. I’m so happy to see you and talk to you as always.
Kalen Allen 00:29
I’m happy to see you as always.
Ricki Lake 00:32
What do you want to ask me today? I feel like you’ve got like a burning, burning question.
Kalen Allen 00:36
Well, I do I do. Do you consider yourself to be a judgy person?
Ricki Lake 00:42
Judgey like judgmental? Less so than I used to be? But you’re still a baby. So what’s, how have you changed in your 26 years? You used to be back when you were a teenager, you were judgey?
Kalen Allen 00:57
I think that teenager and I think also like college years, I think actually getting into Hollywood, especially when you pull the veil up, you know, you get to see behind the scenes, I think I started to realize that people are a little bit more complex, you know, I think also is like, you know, this about me, it’s like, I grew up pretty early. And so I am a very self-aware person. So I am always trying to learn as much and grow as quickly as possible instead of, you know, making mistakes further down the line. But second of all, I think I just don’t care enough about what other people do.
Ricki Lake 01:31
That’s something that you learned. I mean, I learned that much later in life to not give a shit what other people think of me is not my business.
Kalen Allen 01:38
I think maybe social media, especially with me, starting to Ellen and everybody having an opinion about what I wear, or what I do, or how I talk that I was kind of like, I don’t give a shit. You know? That’s why I operate that way now, like, I’m not passing judgment.
Ricki Lake 01:54
I’m just you know, making an observation. No judgment. Okay. So okay, Kalen, we talked about you being you’re less judgy than you used to be? Yes, yes. If you were put in charge of a court like situation. If you were a judge, could you pass a binding judgment? What would you want to be in charge of?
Kalen Allen 02:28
Okay, I’m glad you asked me this. Because what I do know, is back in the day when I was a kid and algos have, a lot of people thought I was going to like become a lawyer. Because I am very good. Every moving my own bias and my own belief system and being able to look at things in a more like, let’s look at the facts. I am very good at being fair. Yes, I can be objective, I can be very objective. And that’s why I think I will be able to pass a binding judgment. And if I could be in charge of something. I think I’d be a very good divorce court lawyer.
Ricki Lake 03:06
Oh, it’s a doorbell.
Ricki Lake 03:06
Really? It’s so depressing. It is so awful. I mean, I you know, I’ve been divorced twice. My first divorce went to trial, like I had a full trial so that I mean, I’m not even gonna get into that. But I learned so much in that process. of, you know, how theatrical it all is, like, it’s total bullshit, really. And in my case, it ended up you know, going my way in every way, which was, but it was it was so stressful. And my life, all of every penny I earned was in the hands of this one judge like this one guy. And this is before Thank God, you know, before like social media and before I mean, this was back in 2003 2004. Yeah, it was awful. But speaking of judges, speaking of judges, today, we are talking to Lauren Lake. Oh, folks love Lauren. She’s so great. folks might have seen her on paternity court. She hosted that show for many years. But she used to come on my show back in the day and gave out relationship advice. She was often paired on a panel of love experts. And she was she was a standout you know, she and I think Michelle massage was on back then. Yeah, we had some heavy hitters. And she’s had an amazing career and I cannot wait to hear about what she’s up to now. Kalen, what’s that?
Ricki Lake 03:36
Like old times. Come in. Hi, how are you Lauren? Thank you for doing this.
Lauren Lake 04:41
Oh my god. Thank you for having me.
Ricki Lake 04:46
We’re so happy to have you here. Thank you so much. Happy to be here. Like I have never done the deep dive into Lauren Lake really like I’ve known you. But you’ve done so much in your career. And you are my show the towards the end of my seasons my run, you were on many, many, many times.
Lauren Lake 05:04
Yes, we were like on this little friends panel, and we would come on to your show, I think was myself Danielle Rawling Heather B. And I think Kristen, I can’t think of her last name, but we were like a little forethought. Yep.
Ricki Lake 05:18
Do you know who he is, Kalen, Darnell Rawlings?
Kalen Allen 05:20
Yes, I do.
Ricki Lake 05:21
Okay, and do you know who Heather? You know who that is too, right?
Kalen Allen 05:24
I don’t know Heather.
Ricki Lake 05:26
She’s amazing. She was on the original cast of the real world. She’s a DJ. She’s really what it how do you describe Heather she’s just everything. And funny and smart. So what was it about those? Like, first of all, obviously, we had you back over and over again, because you guys delivered. You would do like the hot topics kind of like they do, I guess on the view now, right? I mean, it was, like I said, exactly. They steal that from our show maybe?
Lauren Lake 05:53
I wonder because you had this little moment. And we would talk about all of the hot topics in the news, we would give our take, we were four very different people. I think I’ve kind of lived my life and career. Usually being the most opinionated, outspoken person in a room that people can count on me to tell it like it is right? This couch you would sit us on are four very, very opinionated people from all walks of life, and we got a different take on everything. And then you would kind of come through and leave through your life experience, allow the audience to do it. And I really think for me, it taught me what community meant for television. And I have taken so many of those lessons with me throughout my career. And I just want you to know, I’m not begging you up. But you really did help launch my career, you really did having me on your show in that way. And allowing me to be more than just a legal pundit write a talking head about the law, you allowed me to kind of lay down the law in some respects, in terms of give a legal opinion, but also lay down the law, meaning put it aside and lead with Lauren. And it was just a powerful moment for me and helped kind of shaped my career because I’ve been able to do that ever since. And that’s because of what I did on that show.
Kalen Allen 07:13
How did you end up going from being just a lawyer to now working in entertainment? How did you end up on the show?
Lauren Lake 07:20
Okay, so this is a little known fact. But funny. Back in like early 2000s, there was this UK production company called September films that came over to the US to try to find real life Sex in the City style women, they wanted real life New York women who kind of live the lives like the characters have sex in the city, because that time that show was the big thing. So funny story, but true. I got an email from my girlfriend Kailyn saying you should go to this cocktail party. It was for all single women. And they wanted women who were in New York who was single and dating. I wasn’t gonna go with my brother was in town. He was recently divorced. And he saw me reading the email. I was like, what’s that? I was like, I was this cocktail party. But it’s just like all girls, and a guy can’t come unless a girl brings you and he was like, well, let’s go in and bring me I swear this is how it happened. We walk in, there’s beautiful girls, actors and models and all of these things loving around this place. And they started interviewing about dating. And he goes, Well, I dare you to go down there and give me your take on dating the way you say it to me. The exact thing you say that’s happening to you and your life. Go down there and say it long story short 1000s of girls. I’m like one of the 12 they pick and I ended up doing the show called to live in Dade in New York, which then turned into single in the city, which aired on week and your producers saw me there.
Ricki Lake 08:47
Wait, was it Michael Rourke, who was my EP at that time?
Lauren Lake 08:50
And literally on my third appearance on your show? Michael Warrick calls me in the office. I thought I was in trouble. I can see his office to this day because I was shivering in my boots sitting in this chair. And he just looks at me. He goes, I know you think you’re a lawyer. I know. You think you’re going to be a singer, but you are destined to have a career in television. I was like, what? Because at that time, I thought I was like singing I was singing background for Snoop and Dre.
Ricki Lake 09:13
Yeah, let’s talk about that. So you have other history of being a backup for Snoop and Mary J. Blige?
Lauren Lake 09:20
Yeah, and Dre and Diddy. I mean, I worked as a professional background singer for many, many years. It’s how I paid my way through law school. And then after law school when I moved out to New York, I just started singing for everybody. So my dream at that time was to pursue a career in music. I’ve been traveling the world with JT Taylor formerly of […] I sang for everybody. I did weddings, funerals, honey, you name it, I did it. And I really had no television aspirations. This is the crazy thing that people think that I like was sitting on the porch, Little black girl with my baby dolls talking about it one day, I want to grow up and be on TV. It wasn’t that Yeah, and I’m sure you understand that Ricky was kind of coming through TV through theater everything
Ricki Lake 10:03
is yeah, I didn’t predict I didn’t matter if I mean, I really didn’t manifest me being a talk show host but I was a big fan. I loved Oprah more than anyone you know?
Kalen Allen 10:13
Wait, can we please get the dating store? I’m, I need to know what you say like what was your take on dating?
Lauren Lake 10:20
My take on dating was at that time people expected because I’m a big personality. I love people. People thought I had all the dates. So what I went in there and told them is that nobody asked me on dates. I never date. And actually, I didn’t know if I was happy about it or sad about it, because I hated dating. I hated it. And so they loved the fact that I was kind of the one character was very honest about being a very single successful woman. And I had no dates. I mean, nobody asked me and I was on this on and off relationship with this guy. Who was kind of like my own Mr. Big who was just like, kind of like really professional and we were great on a resume on paper. And it was all of that and then they put him in the show. It was just all drama. I am not really great at like, small talk.
Kalen Allen 11:11
Like, what’s your sign?
Lauren Lake 11:13
Kalen Allen 11:13
Oh, it just I would not have guessed that you’re a cancer.
Ricki Lake 11:17
Wait, tell me why, why would you not guess that she’s a cancer,
Kalen Allen 11:20
I actually would have guessed Capricorn, really, because I’m a Capricorn, but your presence is so strong and powerful. And usually cancers are so emotional, that sometimes it’s okay. But sometimes like, personality, it’s kind of like smaller because of the emotions, but because you were just so sure of who you are. And confident in that I was like, oh, is giving Capricorn and I had the same feeling about dating.
Ricki Lake 11:49
Yeah, she’s talking. It sounded like you.
Lauren Lake 11:51
It just, it gets boring to me. And, you know, not to be rude. But as a single woman who worked and made my own money, I don’t need you to buy me food. I don’t need you to buy me a meal. If I want to go to a great restaurant that I’ve been looking at. I’m just gonna go right you know, and you know me, I’m gonna go I’m gonna go with my girls. I don’t need to like, get this guy that I don’t really like to take me so he can pay the bill.
Kalen Allen 12:17
We have two simple things you want the comfort and the hug and the cuddling.
Lauren Lake 12:22
And if I don’t get that I can just stay home by myself in my good robe. Okay, okay, and put on a good robe and read a book watching TV or relax. So that was my take, and I never dated. And they literally recorded me on the show literally never dating. And it was a cult hit. It was before reality TV. What they did it like reality TV, where when of the show was over. They aired it like marathon but they didn’t call it they call it a docu series back then.
Ricki Lake 12:52
And this was on We.
Lauren Lake 12:54
Went from the metro tramp channel. I’m really dating. Yeah, we’re going way back. Yeah. Went from the metro channel to We. And then we were on the Today show. It was like a crazy cold hit.
Ricki Lake 13:09
So was it real? Was it really documenting real life that show?
Lauren Lake 13:12
My real life when I tell you is so different from the way I know they produce reality TV now. It was my own life. And let’s really keep it real. You had to pay for it. They weren’t in there making nothing Look you honey at this. And all you have was low a person did it and that’s all you gonna have because you got to pay the bills. They were not doing that it was my real hair.
Ricki Lake 13:36
No hair and makeup.
Lauren Lake 13:38
Oh, no, I did all the hair and makeup myself. But one thing they did do in the editing, like I remember one time I went out with like, my bass player, my guitar player from my band. And in the edit when they said it, it was kind of making it look like I was on a date with them. But I really wasn’t. But it was kind of like trying to show me getting out there because you know, I was so pitiful. I’m not good. But thank goodness, your producer saw me. And then I came over to your show. And then at that time, I was also opening my design studio because you know, I’m crazy. I used to design houses. So I got your show and a show on HGTV at the same time from that one little show.
Kalen Allen 14:17
How are you a cancer that’s gotta be Capricorn in his chart somewhere.
Ricki Lake 14:26
Okay, folks, got to take a quick break, but we’re gonna be right back in a jiffy. Were you a fan of the Ricki Lake Show? Could you watch?
Lauren Lake 14:45
Everybody was. Yeah, we all were all of us used to talk about it just like how we can’t believe we’re on the show. I mean, we kind of came of age with you. Yeah. And that was one of the things about what was so special about your show is that your humanity shot When through so much, it was almost like we were hugging you every day, we were sitting next to you, we were eating with you, because you gave us so much of yourself. And so, so much of what you shared and you allow the audience to share. We were living it. And I think that’s what made it so real and why it connected to people, is because we were living out loud with you, right? You allowed us space to do that, and used to always call me your cousin. And everybody loved that because my last name was like, and you’d be like, Oh, my cousin is on. It was so fun. And everybody like it’s actually a real tough.
Kalen Allen 15:32
Ricki, can I ask a favor? Yeah, I want to see Lauren in action. Can we please play the clip?
Ricki Lake 15:41
Let’s throw to the clip.
Ricki Lake 15:44
Okay. And the makeup was on.
Lauren Lake 16:37
And that dimple popping out, you look good.
Lauren Lake 17:02
Get dressed for that show when I be done with that honey and go out to lunch. And that was back in the day. We got car service on it. You couldn’t tell me the day after I left that show, and I stand by that advice.
Ricki Lake 17:19
I went got into it with you. I don’t even know where I was coming from. I was not even single back then. I had no business. What was the reaction to like people on the street when they would they recognize you after your appearances?
Lauren Lake 17:34
Oh, all the time, all the time. And you know what moved me most people would say all the time, I want to be a lawyer now because of you because you allowed me to not be so stuffy. You allowed me to kind of like I said, lay down the law and be human first little girls would write to me and go I’ve never seen a lawyer like you. I want to be that when I grow up. Still to this day, people will recognize me and say you used to be on Ricki and I’m like, I sure was. And it literally it’s iconic. I mean, I’m not trying to big you up. But it really was that kind of show. And you were that kind of person because you gave us talk in a way that allowed us to feel free to be ourselves. And I mean, you made me admit so many things on that show. I’d be like love Ricki with topic today. One day, you were like, do you have sex with your ex? And you made me bring an ex? My ex was in the audience. And I admitted that yes. In store instead of having sex with somebody else. I wouldn’t have sex with my ex before I would do it.
Kalen Allen 18:41
That was already tested, tried and true.
Lauren Lake 18:45
Not another notch on the belt when the belt already is there.
Ricki Lake 18:58
I love you, Lauren. Lauren, looking back on daytime talk television. Like how do you think it’s changed? Today versus back then?
Lauren Lake 19:07
I think it’s very different. I think we’ve entered a place now where there are sensitivities, societal sensitivities, right, that I do think prohibit us for wearing our heart on our sleeves, our opinion on our sleeves the way we used to. I mean, when you think about your show, Oprah, Geraldo. I mean, I grew up on Donahue. I mean, let me keep it real meat. I mean, we’re you had skinheads, you had I mean people on talking about sexual abuse in ways that now I think so much of that would have to be edited out or kind of rephrase to make people comfortable. And it’s not always a bad thing. But I do think it’s a real thing, because we are not being as honest as I think we could beat back then, because we didn’t know any better, right? You know, there’s that kind of thing. Well, if you knew better, you do better. Well, as we grow and know, we shift so that we can make sure that we’re accommodating or not being too offensive. But sometimes I’m a firm believer, and I will take offense over pretense, you offend me. But don’t pretend you know, my daddy as a thing. Don’t pretend to be who you don’t intend to be. I think right now, there are a lot of people on daytime TV pretending to be who they don’t intend to be.
Kalen Allen 20:31
You know what, I also from coming from the daytime TV world, especially in today’s day and age. And with Elon ending, being kind of like that last like talk show that was on for a very long time. Personally, I feel like talk shows are too celebrity driven. Yes, I think the issue and the reason why we can’t have talk shows that talk about these topics and cover these topics is because the hosts don’t have the range to be able to talk about them. Because you have to have some type of sensibility, you also have to have a connection to the everyday person in everyday life, or have some type of journalist like degree or background, I think we would do better.
Lauren Lake 21:09
Well, I think that’s a very good point. And I think as you were talking, it reminded me of the way social media, the internet, technological advances has changed our entertainment sphere altogether. I mean, when you think about music, that’s like that old school thing of will you used to really have to be able to sing, dance and act, you’d have to hold that note for real. And the audience would expect you to be able to sing that song the same way or better than you did on the album. We’ve lost all of that. I mean, you could get up and just lip sync your whole show now and everybody’s satisfied because they think, you know, we I saw you we it’s a big production. Yeah. And I think we have entered the world where production, right has kind of we’re leading now with production. And where we say if this is something you have a dream of doing, then you work at that. I mean, I have been working on television since that show. It took me 15 years to get like my own show where I was on five days a week, talking on television for 15 years in various shows, being the expert here, the view, Dr. Phil, all that he shows running around after your show was over, Rick, I did this for years, because I had to hone the skills. And I say to people all the time, because I get so many calls. I’m a lawyer, I want to be on TV. TV ain’t no joke, y’all. TV is not a joke. It is not something you just decide I’m gonna jump up and get on. You have to have the skill set, or you will fail.
Kalen Allen 22:48
Or you won’t sustain.
Ricki Lake 22:52
It’s not something that you can be taught to write. I mean, I didn’t go to journalism school. I didn’t even finish college. But it’s something else. I don’t know. It’s just a different skill set. So for you like when you got your own show is are you talking about paternity court yet?
Lauren Lake 23:05
Yes, I did the show on HGTV. But it was very much a design show. I did that for several years. That was really my first show as a host and design. Spice up my kitchen on HGTV. I did 16. But I was in the act of designing. I mean, I was hosting but it was very different than standing, you know, live to tape running, no stopping. Here I am and I am holding court and holding conversation and holding people’s attention. It was paternity court.
Ricki Lake 23:34
And did you like that role of being the you know, the authority that when we were you, you certainly were comfortable? But was that like your wheelhouse would you say?
Lauren Lake 23:43
I have to credit this to David Armour, which is a mutual friend of ours. He was the creative paternity court. Before I did paternity court. I didn’t watch a ton of Judge shows. I mean, I knew who Judge Judy was. Judge Mathis was a former mentor of mine from Detroit when he was a lawyer. I was a young lawyer, so I knew him. But I wasn’t like some avid court show watcher. But David, when I got that show, I said, Oh, and you know, being the lawyer and the overachiever, I am I said, Well, let me start looking at the judge shows so I can make sure I’m prepared. He goes, that’s exactly what I don’t want you to do.
Ricki Lake 24:18
You don’t want to pick up what they’re doing. You want to have Fred be fresh and be yourself. Right?
Lauren Lake 24:21
He said, just be you. I don’t want you to be a judge. I don’t want you to act like a judge. I don’t want you to be anything except the Lauren I have watched for years on television, that’s all and to be very honest, Ricky it changed my life. It changed my, my approach to what I do, and how I try to keep it truly authentic. And so yes, I don’t mind being an authority when I’m in the room, but I always tell people on my show, and I say it in life all the time. I’m only speaking from a place of perspective and not perfection because honey I messed it all up. We don’t have enough time on the show to tell it all. And neither do we, you know, all my show people are telling me their problems. But in real life, I am a human being, I have fallen, I’ve had to figure out how to get up, I have messed it up, I have lost it all, I have figured out how to get it back. So I am no more or no less human than any of my audience. And that’s the most important thing that I tried to convey. And to be very honest, that’s what I watched you do day in and day out? Even when you had great advice, you never appeared to be a superior being.
Ricki Lake 25:36
Because I wasn’t.
Lauren Lake 25:40
And then the way the show was produced, it was never to make, you know, Ricky be an untouchable. I think a lot of times now, everyone is so smart. They’re so talented. You know, they’re so out of reach. Would you get what I’m saying? Like, it’s produced so much to where it’s like, I’m coming into the presence of a larger than life person. And I just need to watch. That to me is not what great TV is. My greatest compliment is when I go home to Detroit, and my family and friends go, girl, you’re so crazy on this show. You act and just like yourself up there. I couldn’t believe that time you said blah, blah, blah. That’s something you’d say to me, because I’m being me.
Ricki Lake 26:24
And as far as doing your court shows like how did it work? You’re actually a real attorney. Would you actually like these judgments that you would make? Would they follow through on? Like, how does it work behind the scenes?
Lauren Lake 26:36
Well, court shows are different some court shows are binding arbitration meaning whatever the judge says it goes, paternity court is not a real court. Let’s be clear, there is no paternity court, you don’t go to that in real life. So paternity court is a show we created specifically to help families who had paternity issues and know where to turn. Because in real life, you would have to go through the whole court process. And a lot of people didn’t have the money for all of that. And so as an attorney, I could do what was called non-binding mediation, I’m basically mediating a dispute. And when I give my ruling, right, my ruling is basically my advice and my judgment about what you need to do to go forward. The beautiful thing about paternity court is paternity court was basically I was the judge, but we always said the DNA was the jury, because the DNA gave the answer, right? Yeah. So the court shows operate differently. But for me, because I am an attorney, I just do what basically is non-binding mediation. So no, you could walk off the court and say I didn’t do and then she said, but you do know whether or not you’re the father. And from there, I’m able to impart legal lessons, I’m able to say, listen, this is what’s gonna happen to you now that they have that this what you need to go do this is the best what’s in the best interest of the child? But yeah, they could go out and do whatever they want to do.
Ricki Lake 28:03
And would you? I mean, I’m fascinated by this. But would you, like look at their case, with the state that they lived in? Like, like, would you change your advice or something if they were living in it? You know, because the laws are different in every state when it comes to paternity.
Lauren Lake 28:17
Exactly. And as a television expert, and television judge, and I have to be careful that I am not giving legal advice. You see how I clearly said legal lessons, not legal advice, because if I’m not licensed in the state, I can’t give advice. So what I’m able to do is to impart legal lessons, I’m able to say, you’re going to need to get an attorney because these are the things that may happen to you. In your home state. I know this to be the law, but I’m not going to advise you of what you do. I’m just giving you the legal lesson. We were very careful to never cross that line.
Ricki Lake 28:57
Wow. Yeah. Fascinating. All right, let’s take a break. We’ll be right back.
Kalen Allen 29:15
What difficulties and this is for both of you, as in hosting and having to host different things. Are there any difficulties that you found yourself in it, especially for you, Lauren? Especially being a Black woman and having to navigate the industry? Did you ever feel as though respectability politics were starting to, you know, come into play? Or did you ever feel like you needed to alter yourself to fit for any audience or consumer?
Lauren Lake 29:42
When I started in this business, there was a lot about me that didn’t quite fit with what the norm was. I did well on HGTV because I’ve big personality, and I love designing and I’m creative and all of those things, but you better believe they were very concerned. about, you know, when I’d wear my hair to Afro centric all of the time, and I got calls about straightening my hair for certain events that would have to deal with the show at that time. Now, this was before we ever thought as Black women, we could walk in and go, Oh, no, I’m not straightening my hair. Right? And to be fair, this is before anybody thought, hell no, I better not ask her that. You know, we, we’ve come a little we’ve come a little ways have come? Because in contracts, there would be you know mutuals with respect to appearance, right, where you would choose your look together. Sometimes artists would have no say, I would always fight for Mutual’s where I’d have to agree, and they’d have to agree. But back then, you were thinking this was more of a contractual thing of how they want me to look to sell a show. But deep down your understanding that if I’m leading with too much blackness, that’s problematic to whatever audience they want to, you know, appease, or to attract, right. So I went through a lot back then. And it was difficult. Fast forward to my time at paternity court, you know, I used to wear my hair very straight. And, you know, I owe it a lot to my production of balding and one day, I’m just said, I want to wear natural hair. Like I want to wear hair that looks like the hair that grows out of my head, a fro. And it was like, Okay, go ahead. And I did, and everybody loved it. And then fast forward. Now, that would be Gosh, 20 years later on we the people the show I have now I did the pilot for that show in a fro in my own afro, and I wear it every day. And I don’t hear a word except we love it. I mean, even the fact that I am here in braids, you know, fully braid it up. And talking to Ricky and talking to you and doing the show 20 something years ago, I would have probably taken these out my head or put a wig on. Because this is not what we did as Black women on TV. And I mean, I think many black women can attest to that. And it has been a door we have all had to break open together to give and look you wear your hair the way you want. But for those of us who do want to wear natural hairstyles, or styles that are more Afro centric, we want to claim that right? We want to be welcomed into our spaces and our gifts be welcomed into spaces when our hair looks like our ancestors. Well, that was a big that was a big change for me over the last 20-25 years.
Ricki Lake 32:31
Did we at the show pressure you to look a certain way.
Lauren Lake 32:36
I can wear my hair anyway, I want it. And I wore it both. On your show. I’ve had my fro I’ve had it blown out because I go in and out. And I used to do that on my old show too. But then it would be like if it was some big event or whatever, I get a little email like, for this one, could you wear your hair blown out? And it would be kind of like a you know, I’d be like what, you know, no one has ever told me how to wear my hair on that show.
Kalen Allen 33:03
I was doing some research and also looking on Twitter and you were very popular with Black Twitter on your moments on the show. And my question is Do you ever get concerned that people try to project like stereotypes on you that people try to say that you’re like an angry Black woman or they say that you are intimidating? Do you ever get concerned about that? Are you very much like this is who I am. It is what it is.
Lauren Lake 33:32
I can tell you that every label has been projected on me I’m too Black. I’m not black enough to outspoken. You know, there was a time when because I did many different things. I was a lawyer I was a designer I was on Ricki show I was this that people wouldn’t take me seriously to get legal jobs because they said I was I was too limitless. I was too much of a renaissance woman. No one’s going to take you seriously because of this. People have projected so much on me. That’s why I constantly talk about living a limitless life because I reject those limitations. So when people say I’m being angry, you’re an angry black woman. Yes. In this instance, right now, I am an angry black woman right now. Like I am angry because this particular situation has pissed me off. So if you want to call me that, fine. If you want to dismiss me from your world, that’s fine because I don’t live in it. intimidating. I’m sure it’s sometimes I do come across as intimidating. I always say what do you say to people who are constantly intimidated by you or say you’re intimidated? Boom.
Ricki Lake 34:42
I find you refreshing.
Lauren Lake 34:48
What am I gonna do, walk on eggshells every day.
Ricki Lake 34:51
But did you always have this thick skin Did you were you always like this?
Lauren Lake 34:55
I was always like this except for that one time I just mentioned it. When I was up for a big gig, and one of the legal news channels, and they call me in the office and said, we really like you, we love what you’re doing on the channel, because I used to be on the channels all the time, all of them. But we heard you have this design show. People are going to take you seriously as a lawyer, and as an anchor, with you having this design show. When is that going to be over? Now meanwhile, this time feeding myself, this is how I’m paying my rent, this is how I’m living. I left out of there. So defeated, I really did. And I just said to myself, you know, I’m either too much for these people. And not enough. I am so sick of these people. And I remember my agent saying to me, and I love my agent. She’s had been my agent for many, many years, 20 something years, but that Perry, and she wrote to me very quickly email two words, screw them, screw them, I was defeated, and I was feeling very much like if I’m ever going to do a legal show, I’m going to have to give up all of these other parts of me to make everybody else comfortable. And I had to decide, yep, you know what, screw them. I’m gonna do me, and I’m gonna be me. And they either accept me or they don’t.
Ricki Lake 36:09
Kalen, do you find that you have any sort of I don’t know, people think you’re too much or too not enough?
Kalen Allen 36:17
Are kidding me, Ricki, happens on this podcast. You know, read the reviews, Jesus Christ.
Ricki Lake 36:22
I don’t read the reviews, by the way.
Kalen Allen 36:23
Yeah, I stopped. I thought which and the same thing happened when I was at Ellen, you know, and that was actually really tough for me, when I first started, Ellen, you know, at that time, I was 21. And when I got there, and I was so excited, I was so elated. I was like, this is the best time of my life. I feel like I’m bringing joy, I’m making people laugh. And then I would get to the comments, I can handle comments that are rooted in actual real critiques. But when the critiques start to become about who I am, as an actual person, that’s when it bothers me. I think, you know, it’s just like Lauren says, it’s like, it’s tough being a black person in general, working in the entertainment industry, because a lot of the critiques that we get are often rooted in our blackness, it has nothing to do with our talent or, or our ability, it has everything to do with us either being too much of this or not enough of that. And that not working for someone because that’s not the world that they live in. That’s not what they see on a daily basis in the differences for like black people. We know white culture, you know, like, we’re aware of everybody’s business and how they operate and what they do. I know why people don’t season a food. I know, they just put salt and pepper on a food, you know, like, I know that and squeeze the lemon. But the right people have no idea of Black culture, why people won’t even go to a Black neighborhood, you know what I mean? But we go to the targets in the suburbs. So it’s like, it’s that cultural difference in the barriers that have been built. And that’s the unfortunate thing, because, you know, like, a lot of people try to say that black people they’re speaking a V, that they’re unintelligent, you know, that they aren’t smart that, like Ebonics, you know, like, sort of how I talk like, I don’t use proper grammar or proper English, you know what I mean?
Kalen Allen 38:27
As if the way that I talk means that I don’t have two bachelor’s degrees, that I’m not at NYU, that I’m not at Juilliard, as if that is an indicator on my brain. And it’s not. It’s not at all. It’s a cultural expression.
Ricki Lake 38:44
It’s African American Vernacular English AAV.
Lauren Lake 38:47
Which my mother’s dissertation in the 1960s for her PhD was about how African Americans we are inherently bilingual. We’re born that way. We speak two very different languages and that what we have now deemed to be Ebonics, is in actuality, a real true language. That was her dissertation for a PhD back in the 70s, I think it was. So this has been a talk for a very long time. And to your point, if you allow others to constantly critique you, they will critique you into a corner, they will critique you into a box that you will then have to fight your way out of, and I’m only saying this to you Kalen. Really, truly because it happened to me. And I stopped listening to be very honest with you the audience’s critique. And I also don’t listen to so called ever all the producers and all of this the critique on either for the position or I’m not for the position, because when I come I’m bringing me Yeah, there was a part of me that took this a lot seriously then maybe a lot A lot of other shows that we’re doing with maternity I’m playing around with no baby, you’re not gonna come in here. This is not a circus, it’s a courtroom. It’s a television courtroom, but we’re going to have decorum. And we’re going to care about what happens to this person. But I’m saying all that to say, when you start allowing people to dictate what parts of you bring, you’re going to lose that authenticity that connects you, you just have to trust and believe that your gift will connect and resonate with those people that it should I would read, I wouldn’t pay attention. And I would just do what I do. You know, in this industry, there is a lot of hiding, right, hiding of who you are, whether it’s behind makeup, or whether it’s hair, you know, this, this concept of entertainment, and what we have to do to be camera ready, you know, that’s a phrase we hear often, will shift our thoughts and perceptions about our own beauty and who we are. But I’ve had people say to me, when I’m not in hair and makeup, like, Oh, my God, you look so much better on the show, like, who would take the time to type that? With who says that, and I make sure as well, we get like, I’m wearing my hair very short right now really short, afro, I did a big chop, where I basically shaved my head close to ball at the top of the year. And I just did it. And I wanted to do that. Oh, my goodness, why would you do that? I mean, it’s like they’re in charge of me, ownership of ourselves, our spirits, our minds, our bodies are for women and women alone. And so we have to take that power back. And for men, I mean, let’s be clear, there are a lot of men who are balding, that are now going to get different alterations to their hair, and that’s for you to own and yours and yours alone, we can begin to let the internet landscape and the audience dictate physical things about ourselves in spiritual things about ourselves can’t do that.
Ricki Lake 41:50
That’s one of the things that’s obviously changed with technology and Twitter and the immediate response of people. We didn’t have that back then when the show, you know, there was none of that there really was barely internet. And I think there was freedom in that, you know, there was for me, I mean, I look at like today’s landscape, I wouldn’t want to do a talk show like, I don’t think a talk show like mine could exist today. We’re too divisive. We’re too scared of pissing people. I don’t know, I just think it’s a different tone. You know, would you agree?
Kalen Allen 42:20
I stand by I do think it could be, I think there are ways to have these conversations, as long as you got somebody that’s sitting on that stage as well, that knows how to fight back that has the range to be able to if somebody says something that’s problematic or offensive to put it in check in the moment, because those are the things that are celebrated. Accountability is celebrating in today’s day and age. So as long as you are doing it, and being responsible while doing it. I think you’re fine.
Lauren Lake 42:51
I think, for you, Ricki, we almost need a show like yours again, because people need somewhere where to put that energy. When you go give someone the mic and say what do you think? And they get to say it right? In a in a situation where they won’t be violated. There’s not going to be violence right there. It’s up to the room and a place to be heard and to have a voice because I do think people need and want to be heard so desperately. And so I do think a show like this could be a great way to allow people the platform to be what it means to be heard and to give your opinion again, in the right way. I mean, when people on your show used to stand up and just be like, well, girl, I think you should leave because that doesn’t make no sense for you to be blah, blah, blah, right? That was perfectly acceptable. They weren’t on the internet going, you dumb, ugly girl. If I was ugly, hiding behind this internet barrier where you can be evil and sinister. No, because when you said your piece you had to show your face.
Ricki Lake 43:58
And that’s power in that moment. I will we had as that audience that would respond to good or bad to whatever they were hearing whether it’s on stage or in the house. It was the reflection was right then in there, and that was it. There was nothing bigger than that.
Lauren Lake 44:11
And guess what you had to do when people didn’t agree with you, except it and sit down and finish watching the show? I mean, you know.
Kalen Allen 44:18
I had this critique about Twitter all the time, that Twitter people think because they get a lot of likes or a lot of retweets. That means that they’re right. No, that just means that all y’all think this craziness, you know what I mean?
Ricki Lake 44:30
Lauren Lake, it is so nice to see you again to talk with you though. Good to see you. I’m so impressed with you that you’ve you know, you’ve managed to stay like busy and doing great things in this crazy business. And yeah, it’s really been a pleasure. Thank you so much for bringing us back.
Lauren Lake 44:47
I had a blast. I love you. And I thank you so much for everything you did for my career. I know you didn’t had no idea but it was because of you and your amazing show. So thank you so much.
Ricki Lake 44:58
It was my pleasure.
Kalen Allen 44:59
Thank you, Lauren.
Ricki Lake 45:09
Did you like it, Kalen? She’s a powerhouse. It was really nice because, you know, we had experts on all the time. We had people you know, people like Lauren on and I remember her I certainly remember her. I remember her of course going on to do paternity court and she worked with David. But like, she’s a star like, like, I really think she’s special.
Kalen Allen 45:29
Listen here, you know, I love all the guests we had, but I loved Lauren. Actually, I was so shocked that she was a cancer because I was like, wait a second person.
Ricki Lake 45:42
You thought she was a capi be like you or a leo she seems like such an, I know nothing about frickin astrology where you just knew that. Okay, yeah. But I mean, it’s crazy that she, I mean, we both are contemporaries, same age, basically. And I loved her perspective. I loved her perspective on the show and what it was for that time and people it’s just yeah, she was awesome.
Kalen Allen 46:08
Yeah, no, I thought she was absolutely wonderful. That was such a fun, fun, fun banter.
Ricki Lake 46:13
Yay. I hope you all liked it too. Please, if you did enjoy what you’re hearing please. What do they do, Kalen.
Kalen Allen 46:19
You got to make sure you rate review and subscribe.
Ricki Lake 46:23
Please subscribe. You’ll get it every week in your inbox and you can listen to it anytime. We love having you listen along. Thank you so much. We hope that you’ll join us next time.
One last thing, there’s even more Raise By Ricki with Lemonada Premium. We do our premium episodes AMA style where you get to ask me anything. And earlier this week you asked me what was the moment I actually felt famous and it was so fun to answer that and remember that night. Now if you want to find out what my answer was, you should subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in Apple podcasts. Raised by Ricki with Ricki Lake and Kalen Allen is a Lemonada Media Original. This show is produced by Claire Jones and Nancy Rosenbaum. Our associate producer is Tiffany Buoy. Our senior director of new content is Rachel Neill, VP of weekly production is Steve Nelson and our executive producers Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and DeRay McKesson, and the show is mixed by Johnny Vince Evans. Music is written and produced by Jellybean Benitez, Jason Peralta and Jay Coos for Jelly Bean Productions.