Thursday, September 29, 2022

Disability Influencer Lauren Spencer Talks Representation on HBO’s ‘Sex Lives of College Girls’ [EUR Exclusive]

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer

*HBO’s new dramedy “The Sex Live of College Girls” premiered on Nov. 18 and the series has already been renewed for a second season.

Per TheWrap, the comedy, created by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, follows four college roommates as they arrive at New England’s prestigious Essex College.

We caught up with series star Lauren “Lolo” Spencer to dish about her character Joceyln as well her growing brand as a bonafide disability lifestyle influencer. 

Spencer made her acting debut as “Tracy” in the critically-acclaimed independent feature film, “Give Me Liberty,” and her breakout performance garnered an independent spirit award. The content creator and public speaker has a popular YouTube channel called “Sitting Pretty Lolo,” where she educates people on her life as a disabled person who uses a wheelchair.

Spencer tells EURweb’s Ny MaGee that her journey so far has been “incredible,” most especially because she gets to represent “different communities.”

“It’s such an honor and I definitely don’t take it lightly, so I’m just really grateful that I was chosen to be a representative in this way and for such a dope and dynamic character like Jocelyn. It just makes me so happy,” she said.

Check out the rest of our conversation with Lauren Spencer below.

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How much of your own persona do you bring to a character like this?

Lauren Spencer: For Jocelyn, I was able to bring quite a bit of who I am into the character because who she is is essentially a younger version of myself. And what I really wanted to be sure of was that I showed parts of her personality that people don’t normally experience because they’ve been conditioned to believe people with disabilities have a certain way of living. And because I knew that wasn’t my truth with regards to the stereotype, I wanted to be sure that we really took it there to show that it exists, that people with disabilities can be turned up, they can be lively, they can be stylish, and fun, and sexy, and all these different things. And so it’s almost like being able to relive the younger version of myself by being the version I wish I always was at the age that Jocelyn is in the show. If that makes sense.

I think many women develop a deep appreciation for female characters that are free-spirited and living their best life. 

In college, I definitely still was very turned up and it’s just like Jocelyn, going to parties, hosting all the parties, having fun in many ways, but a lot of it was rooted in insecurity because I wasn’t sure if it was okay for me to be that way more so than not. More so than being fearful of being so free-spirited, I was more so like, are people going to continue to accept me for being as free-spirited as I am? So it’s actually a little bit of the flip side, but Jocelyn is more so the confident version than being confident in being free-spirited versus who I was at that age being free-spirited, but still having a level of fear because I’m like, well, do guys want to date a girl who is this off the chain? And all those different insecurities that arise from it.

This show centers on young women navigating through college and all the emotions and the highs and lows that come with that. What sort of themes are explored this season that will resonate with female viewers?

I believe that one of the themes that young women are going to be able to resonate with is the journey of self-discovery. What that’s like, the fumbles we make, the mistakes that we make, the challenges that we come across. A lot of times, as women, we go into certain situations being hopeful and trusting in many ways. And sometimes that trust gets taken based on an experience that went left. And so we’ll be able to explore all of those things.

And a lot of young women are going to be able to relate to that, relate to those moments where we’re like damn, all I wanted to do was go to a party or wow, I thought that person really liked me or whatever the case is without telling too much of the show. But yeah, we’ll definitely be able to explore self-discovery and the journey of a young woman in college, figuring out her body, figuring out her sexuality, figuring out what she likes with sex, how she wants to navigate sex, how she wants to have sex. Well, we’ll be able to see these women explore that.

Does Jocelyn have any standout episodes this season that you’re excited for viewers to experience?

Yeah. Honestly, episode two. Episode two is definitely a standout episode for Jocelyn. It’s the naked party episode and it really just shows how fun and exciting she is, how she’s even bolder than her friends in the show. And you don’t see that from characters with disabilities. So episode two is definitely a standout episode. And then I would also say the finale. Yeah.

Are you following hashtags related to the show to see what the viewers have to say about the series?

Yeah. I love to see how people are receiving content, especially if I’m involved with it and seeing what they have to say. I think there is a lot to be said about viewership’s opinions because there’s going to be a lot of things that they may pick up on or be able to dissect that those who are a part of the project may not have picked up on just because we’re so close to the project. So sometimes we need to have that lens from a different angle. We need to be able to take some space and see it from different perspectives and it’s all great learning experiences. And so it’s going to be really fun to see how people respond week by week as the episodes come out.

I feel like fans of other HBO series like Girls and Insecure and Sex and the City will enjoy Sex Lives of College Girls. What is it about watching women navigate through life’s challenges do we as viewers find so captivating?

That’s a great question. I would say because women are so multidimensional in our being, in our thought process, how we see the world, navigate the world, how we are able to explore our emotions, we get more freedom to explore our vulnerability than men traditionally do. And so, because we are so layered in many, many ways, being able to see those layers come to life and get a more thought out or deeper understanding into this creature we call woman, it’s very intriguing.

It’s very interesting because in so many ways we can find characters in all those shows that we relate to, but there’s also parts of those characters that we take from them and we’re like, I can see a little Molly in me. We’re able to find different parts of each woman and recognize who we are in them and be able to see different perspectives of a particular situation that we too can take into life and be like, okay, maybe I could have handled that situation different that I’m seeing it played out very similarly in this TV show.

This obviously is a very female-centric show created by Mindy Kaling. How would you describe the creative energy on set?

It is such a fun experience. Any time, they were setting up the camera and lighting in between shots and we would be in a housing area, we would be singing songs. We would just be talking about what’s going on in pop culture. We’d be talking about our own lives and just really taking the opportunity to get to know each other as, us as people, as the actors. And it really lent itself to a very fun and great experience, which is why the dynamic between us as the cast off-screen is so close. We just absolutely love and adore each other. We support each other in so many different ways. And it’s so exciting. It’s so exciting to just be a part of a group of such dope and dynamic and incredibly talented women, incredibly talented.

 Lauren “Lolo” Spencer
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)

I heard someone recently describe her own handicaps as physical diversities, instead of physical disabilities. 

I understand people’s perspectives on why they tend to make the word disability or the experience of disability to be more palatable for the world. And for me, I’m one that likes to represent the actual word, disability and disabled and people with disabilities, because it’s not really the word that’s the problem, it’s people’s perspective of the word that’s the problem. It’s people’s attitude and energy towards the word, that’s the problem. Because in many ways, I truly truly believe that we are all here on this earth to serve a purpose. And if it was my purpose to be the fastest woman in the world, then I wouldn’t have become a person with a disability. So for me, I look at my disability as a level of my own purpose in life. I am using what has been given to me to be of service to others.

And that has always been the goal and the intention of all of my content. And so with knowing that, and always being aware of that, having this opportunity to be part of Sex Lives, especially, spearheaded by such a powerhouse like Mindy Kaling has been an incredible response because so many people with disabilities are proud to say, there is a disabled girl, who’s proud to be a disabled girl on TV and representing disabled girls in disabled lifestyle that is authentic, that exists and is full of joy. And it’s showing a different perspective on the lifestyle that people never get to witness. And so it’s important to take ownership of that word and be proud of it. So that way, those who also are part of the community are equally proud. And everyone has been showing so much support. People are recording it on their TVs and tagging me on social.

I’m getting so many DMs from people that are just so excited and happy for me, especially those that have been following my journey since my YouTube days and just seeing where I’m at now. And so I am really excited about this next phase and this next part of my life. It’s happening now, it’s happening for a reason. And I’m about as ready as I can be. I’ve been in worse predicaments and made it out. So if something’s moving in the positive, it can’t do nothing, but keep helping me be positive. So I’m excited. I’m very, very excited for this next stage in my career.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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