The Source Magazine recently sat down with “Baggage Claim” stars Lauren London and her on screen mother Jenifer Lewis. London plays Paula Patton’s sister in the film.
How did you get involved with the film?
Lauren London: I read for the film five years ago at a table read with a very different cast and then five years later, they called and it resurfaced and I went to read for it again. And then David was like, “Don’t even read for it, I’m just going to give it to you.”
What did you love about the script?
Lauren London: I love that Montana was just a big ball of hope and desperation. It was funny. It was a romantic comedy, which I love. I love that my character was very different from my natural personality. She was full of this bubbly life and love.
What was it like working with David E. Talbert?
Lauren London: I call him Big Brother – he was really easy and I think that’s very important. As an actor you want your director to make you feel a part of the project and that’s what he did – he made us feel a part of it and made us feel appreciated and even after the project, even during ADR and being at all our sessions and doing this, the press conferences, he made all of us feel valued and appreciated.
Tell me about working with Paula Patton as your big sister?
Lauren London: I love Paula. I think Paula’s awesome and I think Paula’s paving a new way; I just watched Paula and soaked it up. I think she’s smart and she’s strong and she’s s confident actress and I was just honored to be in her presence.
Any fun stories from set?
Lauren London: Any day with Jenifer Lewis is a fun story. I don’t even know a story to say about Jenifer, but that every day with her was funny.
What was it like having her as your mom?
Lauren London: I want her to be my mom in real life, I wanted to take her home. She’s awesome. I love Jenifer Lewis.
This film is all about travels, tell us some of your favorite places to travel.
Lauren London: I like Jamaica. I live in LA, so I can go to Palm Springs to see the desert or Malibu to see the beach, but I’d love to go to India.
Tell me about “The Game” and what we can expect?
Lauren London: Well the season will wrap up in three more episodes before the season finale. It’s a different experience for me since I’m used to doing movies, so the TV experience was something that I needed under my belt.
What was the highlight of being on “The Game”?
Lauren London: Working everyday. That’s pretty fun for me. Working five days out of the week that’s been the highlight for me and then the cast has been warm and welcoming and it’s already a show that’s been solidified. They already have their train moving.
Talk about the transition from TV to movies and vice versa?
Lauren London: I love that in TV they move really fast and you work every day. What I love about film is that you actually have time with the script. You get to break down your character and you get to really find out who your character is and with TV, they kind of tell you who your character is and you have to add where you fit in. That’s the difference.
Can you speak about your love of Hip-hop?
Lauren London: I love hip hop. I started in music videos and I grew up in LA, so I grew up listening to Tupac and Snoop and Dr. Dre and I’m a big West Coast music fan. It influences everything – music is an art that I appreciate…I did a song with Pharrell a long time ago that’s actually on the album.
Any artists you’re following now?
Lauren London: Drake is always awesome; I’m excited about his new album. And Kendrick Lamar is cool; I think his album was classic. So I would say Drake and Kendrick and 2 Chainz – that’s the homie.
Do you have any musical aspirations?
Lauren London: No, I can’t sing at all. I did that one song with Pharrell on his album and that was it. I can’t sing, and when I sing I sound horrible.
You also appeared in a few iconic hip-hop videos.
Lauren London: My first music video was “Frontin,'” I was 17 years old and in the twelfth grade. I was working with Paul Hunter at the time as an assistant. They needed what they said was “regular looking girls” and Paul was like, “Look! Fly down to Miami. Come do this music video. You look regular and normal. Come!” I was like “Ok!” I had no idea! Look at my hair in that video, it was not done, it was a mess and I just don’t even know what I was doing. My eyebrows were as thin as a damn line. But it was really fun and Pharrell has been a part of life and career since I was 17 and he’s always a supporter.
You also appeared in Ludacris’ “Stand Up.”
Lauren London: I was just in there for a second, I don’t even remember that video.
Can you also speak about working on “Drop It Like It’s Hot” Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell?
Lauren London: I actually casted that video. I was working with Paul Hunter and I will say I casted that video, so I put all of my friends in it.
You also appeared in Common’s “Drivin’ Me Wild” ft. Lily Allen.
Lauren London: Yeah, I did that as a favor to Chris Robinson.
And Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent.”
Lauren London: Ne-yo called me and was like “I need you to do this video” and I was like “For sure, what is the song called?” And he was like “Miss Independent.” And I was like, “Oh my God, that is so me. I must do it.” That was fun, yes. My favorite video of all them I guess is “Frontin'” even though, I look like a hot ass mess in the video, it’s pretty classic.
We also spoke with Lauren’s on screen mom, Ms. Jenifer Lewis. Check out our interview below:
Q: Congratulations on “Baggage Claim,” it was such a heartwarming film. Tell me how you got involved?
Jenifer Lewis: Well you know like I said at the press conference, David (E. Talbert) called me up and he has class. He said “I’d like to take you to lunch” and at the most expensive restaurant, we had lunch and I said “yes!”
Q: And what did you chat with David about during the lunch?
Jenifer Lewis: Not even the movie, you talk about life. You get to know who people are inside and then judge whether you want to work with them or not. That’s what lunch is all about. “Who are you? Are you married? Have children?” You don’t want to work with somebody who doesn’t have a life because then they want to keep you there all night. When you’re my age you learn shit like that. But yes we did talk about the character, but we didn’t have to talk about the character much because that’s how I roll, everyone knows what I can do. But what David did, which was different, was he let me express it. He gave me the time on screen to give that character the arc she needs. You know I play all these angry women sometimes, but you have to find out where that came from in a character. You see, that’s the other part. The vulnerable side.
Q: Can you tell me about what you admire about Paula?
Jenifer Lewis: Paula’s wonderful. She’s a professional and we had great chemistry on the set.
Q: And also Ms. Lauren London?
Jenifer Lewis: Lauren London is the next ingenue. She’s wonderful, she’s beautiful, she’s professional, she’s a great actress.
Q: What did you love about this story? What were you able to connect with?
Jenifer Lewis: We’ve all had the different romances, we’ve all kissed a lot of frogs before we find the prince. I think every woman could relate to this movie having experienced a lot. Run into the married man, run into the gay man, run into the hard-working man, but he’s emotionally screwed up, running into a good looking man, but he’s got 50 women. Same shit, different day. (laughs)
Q: You’ve played many moms, can you tell me your favorite mom to play?
Jenifer Lewis: I think one of my best roles was in “What’s Love Got to do With it?” That was a lot of fun, I had just fallen in love when I filmed that movie, so there was no fear in me, so I really gave her everything I had.
Q: Everyone loved “Think Like a Man,” we have “Think Like a Man Too” coming soon.
Jenifer Lewis: “Think Like a Man Too” is going to be huge. And the reason it’s going to be huge is because when we all came back, because it was a sequel, we already knew our characters and we knew what we had to give. So it was a much more relaxed set and everybody just gave it all. I mean the Taraji P. Hensons and the Kevin Harts, this one and the that one, it was just a great time in Vegas.
Q: As you did say, you have had such a prolific career with TV, film, and broadway. Tell me about what you love about each of the mediums?
Jenifer Lewis: Well, Broadway of course is my favorite. Because it is the moment, it is immediate. And there’s no room for not being in the moment, as it were, which of course is the most important thing when we are another character. And of course, I love singing, and carrying on, and being funny on stage in my one woman shows…I enjoy theatre more than the other two. Television is fun because it’s mostly comedy, but I’ve done many wonderful dramas. “Courthouse,” “Strong Medicine,” these were great dramatic roles and yet they’ve always allowed me to bring my comedic flavor to these women. People hire me for that. People hire me for that charisma. I don’t know, I guess I’m a little different because I’ve worked hard to honor my craft. Film, I don’t know. It’s all the same. Whoever I am, I just give 2000% percent. It doesn’t matter, as you can see I give 2000% in my life. It’s just who I am.
Q: Speaking of comedy, what do you love about the medium of comedy?
Jenifer Lewis: The timing, and I’m very fortunate to have a good timing. Of course you’re laughing when you’re doing it, the set is always more fun. Instead of doing some depressing shit. I’ve been drawn to comedy, because that’s pretty much just who I am. So I do more comedy than I do drama. But the drama is starting to kick off and I do welcome it, very much so.
Q: This movie is about a girl’s relationship with her mother as well, can you speak about your relationship with your mother?
Jenifer Lewis: Girl, my mother was a stone cold killer. You can imagine the woman who raised me! Come on now. What I loved about my own mother was that she had a work ethic that she really imposed upon us, I’m the baby of seven children. And we all caught that fever. She insisted that we all get our masters degrees, not just high school and college. She said if one of us ended up in jail she’d leave us there, so nobody went to jail. All of my sisters and brothers are very successful in their careers. I’m proud of them as they are of me. And my mother really gave us that work ethic, education, and we were always put together as it were. Raised well with manners to respect our elders. There was no profanity in my childhood. I cuss like a sailer now! (laughs) Maybe because I had to repress it all my life. Basically I think that just came from being the baby. A lot of people in show business were the baby of the family and we didn’t get as much attention. This is the story of my life and you’ll have to write it because I’m going to gesture it. “See me! See me!” And then, “…see me.” “Oh, you’ll see me!” And then it was, “Do I really need all that attention?” And now it’s “hey, how’s everybody!”
Q: Tell me about why you love acting so much?
Jenifer Lewis: I think it’s not so much acting, I love entertaining. All of that comes with it, the comedy, the looks, I could get away with murder because I know I’m cute. I was cute when I was a kid, still kind of cute. It’s that I love people, I love making people laugh. I love what I do, and you can’t fake that. I love life, I love being alive, I did the work, and here I am. But success is inside. When you write, I want you to tell the kids, “the elevator to success is broken, take the stairs. Earn it.”
“Baggage Claim” hits theaters September 27.