Christine Lakin [Interview]

ChristineLakinIf you are an old timer here at Trainwreck’d Society, you probably won’t be too surprised just how damn excited I am to have someone as wonderful as Christine Lakin join our list of interviewees.  If you are new, just understand that my obsessions run deep.  I know this probably sounds creepy and downright disturbing, but let me explain.  The people I find to interview are all, in some form or anther, part of my favorite moments, eras, etc. of the entertainment world.  Let’s just say, even if I had the option to interview Angelina Jolie, I seriously wouldn’t know what to ask, as I truly don’t care (Brad Pitt, on the other hand…..).  Nothing against her, I’m just not interested.  That being said, my personal choices have often led me to researching and learning about some extremely talented folks.  And today is no exception.

In the 90’s, television sitcoms were golden.  They seem to be making a small comeback, but they are obviously not as predominate as they were when I was a young child anxiously awaiting my beloved TGIF premieres.  It was as if having our own family just wasn’t enough.  We needed to be a part of the Winslows, the Tanners, and…..The Lamberts.  One of my favorite sitcoms of all time will always be Step By Step.  There wasn’t so much that was unique about this new age Brady Bunch, except that it was OUR Brady Bunch.  A family strewn together and bound by love and loyalty.  In that respect, it was brilliant.  And then there was Al.  Oh sweet, sweet Al.  I grew up with such a crush on the tomboy turned young lady that was Al, the same why young girls swooned over JTT at that time.  Al was my girl!  I may have looked the way of the a Topanga or an Alex Mack, but in the end it always led back to Al.  And now, too many years later to count, I still look fondly at those times of when I so desperately wanted to be Zack Morris or Waldo Geraldo Faldo whilst shaking my head out how ridiculously obsessed with television.  I swear I went outside as a kid.  But, I never missed a TGIF, I am almost certain.

All of this has led me to looking in to the lives and careers of some of my favorite stars from now, but especially then.  And I often learn that the talents some of these fine actors and actresses did not cease to exist once a show either jumped the shark or ended right on time.  They are still living and breathing in the world of entertainment.  Granted some are more obvious than others.  And one of those obvious stars has been kind enough to speak with us today!  Christine Lakin has been working at a race horse like speed even after her stint as Al (*sigh*, oh Al) ended in the late 90’s.  She created and starred in one of the best web series the inter webs has ever shown, Lovin’ Lakin, made her rounds in the theater, is a constant contributor on E!, and is consistently behind the camera in other works besides the world wide web.  Christine is not only an exception the “child star stigma”, she is a triumph.  Rather than ignoring her past, she embraces it!  But so much in the fact that she is ever annoying about it (take heed, Screech).  She is an extremely talented woman who has so much to offer, and is not afraid to show the world that she indeed matters in the world of entertainment.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the legendary and extremely talented Christine Lakin!

You spent the majority of the 90’s as a member of the fictional Lambert family on Step By Step.  Tell us if you would, what was it like essentially growing up with two families?  Did it feel like a true family atmosphere, or just work?

Hmmm, well both I guess.  I grew up in Atlanta from the time I was 6 as an only child.  I always did lots of theater and dance so I understood what it was to have an “artist family”, which is really prevalent in theater.  So that concept was fairly familiar to me and I welcomed that commoradie with the other cast members as I was also suddenly living in California for half the year, away from my home and friends.  All of us “kids” on the show shared a three room school house, so everyone was essentially in the same building being taught by different studio teachers, so that sort of bonded us.  We genuinely enjoyed each other and played a lot of basketball, video games, roughhousing when we were on breaks.  Acting never felt like work to me, so I think that’s why Im still in the biz.  When I was a junior in high school and applying for college and then started balancing UCLA with working, at times yes, striving to find that balance felt like work.  Late nights studying, mixed with long days on set, sometimes with little time to study in between (if I was heavy in the show) could be challenging.  It required a lot of focus and self-motivation on my part to stay ahead in school and get good grades.  So yes, to answer your question, that part felt like work.  The rest was the fun stuff.

Christine Lakin3Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your old “family”

Sure, Patrick Duffy and I write each other.  He did a cameo in my web series “Lovin Lakin” (currently on YouTube and Hulu), and both he and Stacy Keanan were in “You Again” with me.  Stacy and I see each other every few months or so.  She’s been in law school so she’s quite busy being very studious.  I still see and talk to several of the producers, writers and directors.  Facebook makes that pretty easy 🙂

I hate to continue on with the “child star” questions, but my pre-pubescent 12 year old in the mid 90’s self would kick me in the ass if I didn’t ask….  What was it like dealing with boys, especially in your later years on the show when you seemed to blossom (no pun intended) in to a woman?  Did you have any funny or horror stories in dealing with boys?

HA!  Oh jeez… well I wish this answer was juicer but to be honest, because my high school was in Atlanta, most of my pubescent years were encased in a fortress of normalcy.  In that, no one at my school treated me any differently or really seemed to care I was on television.  I can’t say it helped me with boys, but I don’t think it necessarily hurt either.  I wasn’t the most popular kid at my school but I wasn’t an outcast.  There was maybe one time when a junior or senior boy tried to ask me to marry him in the hallway when I was a freshman but I think that had more to do with the older guys trying to embarrass freshman girls than it did with me being on television.

How did your extremely hilarious web series Lovin Lakin come about?  What made you want to create this series?  And will we get to see more?

First of all, thanks!  Glad you’ve enjoyed it.  I wrote and created the series after a writing class my friend had taught, and kind of came up with the idea there.  My good friend and producing partner, Dave Mahanes, has a documentary company and a bunch of equipment.  He came to me and wanted to do something different than his usual fare- something lighthearted and fun- and I told him my idea.  We got to brainstorming on episode ideas, brought it into Oops Doughnuts Productions, who then came on to exec produce, and we started filming.  I created this because I wanted to create a vehicle for myself.  That’s the more direct way as an artist to take control. And I figured what better way to take control of my image than to call out the most awkward, stereotypical version of myself.  I will never get away from being a child star- it’s just what my path was- and to that end, why not embrace it? And additionally, embrace the awkward nature of that entire world… and as I started thinking on this character of “Lakin”… I was tickled by a girl who couldn’t be farther away from my real self… who is so delusional about her image, her world, her reality… that she’s both kind of a hot mess and completely, sadly adorable.  And I think that combo is comedic gold.  I created the character first, and then worked her into ridiculous situations that kind of had a through line with her trying make this docu-series about her great comeback.  Add in some really funny friends, a few great cameos and some improvising… and I was wildly delighted with what we got.  I don’t know if more Lovin Lakin is in the cards for now… if I could get funding to do another season I would in a heartbeat but there’s only so many times you can ask your friends to work for peanuts.  Currently however, Im producing a new web series called “Valet” by Brandon breault and Matt Morgan, two theater friends of mine, who created this series based off a play they wrote and put up here in Hollywood.  It takes place at a hot Hollywood hotel, and is essentially Entourage, from the prospective of the two valets who work the front door.

I’ve noticed that you are credited with a few choreography gigs, including a three episode stint on HBO’s True Blood and the sadly short lived series Breaking In.  What sort of work did you actually do, and what made you want to get in to this line of work?

I’ve been a dancer my whole life, having started classes when I was about 3 and moving into competition and company when I was around 8.  I obviously quit training when I started acting full time, but it’s a vocabulary and understanding I have used in theater in the last 10 years or so here in LA.  We’d be putting up a new show with Troubadour Theater Co. and I’d be one of the few with this background so I was asked to assist and choreograph on occasion.  My name started getting passed around the LA theater scene and before I knew it, I had been nominated several times (Ovation, LADCC awards).  That led to assisting a few choreographers on films and building relationships with line producers, directors and 1st AD’s, which is how the first True Blood gig came about.  That led to three more episodes, some films and more TV.  I feel very lucky to have found this niche because I genuinely like working on “the other side” of the camera.  I find that I get hired for two reasons- I work quickly and I know how to talk to actors (mainly because I am one).  In television especially, whenever there is a dance sequence or specific movement written in the script, the director usually feels the need to hire someone to help build the movement to his/her vision and then teach the actors that sequence.  So essentially, that’s what I do.  I create something based on the script direction and conversation with the director/producer, meet and rehearse the actors, adjust the movement based on their ability/likes/dislikes, show the director again, tweak from there and adjust/demonstrate from the monitor angle once we start filming.  I find most actors just want to feel good about themselves – who doesn’t? – so the majority of what I do is try and make them look (and feel) good, while taking into consideration the storyline and what the scene is getting across.  It’s a really fun job and I’ve gotten to work with some fantastic people- Sigorney Weaver, Betty White, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Anna Paquin, Ana Gastyer… fun folks.

You have also found your way in to voice over work as Joyce Kinney, the new Quahog 5 News anchor on Family Guy.  How did you get in to this gig as well?  Are you a fan of the show?

I was a big Family Guy fan and was so excited when Seth MacFarlane came to see one of the shows I did with the Troubies.  We got to chatting after and he asked me to come fill in at a table read… I did that a few times and recorded some bit parts here and there and the next season they asked me to play Joyce.  I was thrilled, obviously.  It’s an incredible group of people to be involved with and they’ve been so good to me.  That is definitely a story of being at the right place at the right time and it’s led to a great career in voice over work, which I very much enjoy.

What do you do for a little “me time” when you find a chance to peel yourself away from your extremely busy schedule?

I am obsessed with Homeland– just got caught up to season 3.  I love binge-watching shows now.  My fiancee and I get really into one or two at a time.  It’s a great way to study a series.  Im also watching Six Feet Under.  Never saw it the first time around.  I do a lot of outdoor activities- hiking, tennis.  I like yoga, dance, concerts, new restaurants, cooking and wine tasting.  Those things keep me pretty busy and satisfied.  Also producing my live show “Worst Ever” with my partner Alec Ledd the past 3 years has been a blast.  We take people’s most terrible, horrifying experiences and make them tell their stories in front of a live audience while we do a multi-media slide show behind them.  Sort of like Pop up Video meets Worst Week.

If you could portray any historical figure in American history in a biopic, who would it be? 

Who would I be right for is the question?  Maybe Billie Jean King.  She’s an incredible athlete and her story is inspiring for all women.

ChristineLakin2This might a dumb question, but I will ask it any way……  if you hadn’t gotten into the world of acting, what do you think you would be doing right now?

Jeez, hard to say.  Ive been doing this so damn long… Id probably be working as an executive somewhere… doing something creative but also very business minded. Maybe at a studio or a magazine.  Man, that life sounds so glamorous, maybe I made a mistake 😉

What does the future hold for you?  Any new projects in development?

Lots of projects in the fire- Im writing and pitching more new shows now than ever.  Stay tuned there.  Hopefully more stuff on E!, Definitely more audiobooks, which i love doing, planning my wedding and hopefully becoming a mom!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I walked out of my exercise class this morning and one of the gals I see there all the time asked me if I was on The Soup Investigates.  I said yes and she was so sweet, she said “Oh you’re really funny!  It’s hard to find something good on TV and I just love that show!”.  Always nice to make someone else smile… which I guess makes me smile too.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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