Actress Writer Laura Wilcox Thinks You Are Lovable ‘As Is’
Please tell us about yourself and what you do?
I am a comedian, which is kind of a broad term. But in my case that means I am a writer and actress. I also do improv, sketch comedy, and some storytelling/stand up at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in both New York and LA. I am also a wife, an aunt, a daughter, and a big sister, and I hope to be a dog-mother and a human-mother someday too.
Can you tell us a bit about any upcoming projects or events that you are working on?
The biggest project I have been working on is my first book. It’s a parody wedding planning guidebook called I Am Bride: Taking the We out of Wedding and Other Useful Advice. It’s coming out this winter and I am very excited about it!
Do you find the pressures of working in your industry significant with regard to feeling the need to have a “perfect” body? If so, how do you navigate through that terrain? How do you “not” judge yourself when others (critics, audience members, producers, etc.) “judge” you based on outward measures?
I figured out pretty early on that the key to success in this industry has a lot less to do with how you look and it’s more about how you feel about yourself. Basically, confidence is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. I know I’ll never look like some sort of bikini model, it’s just not ever gonna happen for me. So instead of worrying about that, I focus my energy on becoming a better, funnier comedian. I focus on being as confident on stage and as confident in my own shoes as I can be. It’s hard! Sometimes I don’t feel confident and I have to just fake it. But a lot of times if you pretend you’re confident in a situation, you quickly forget that you’re faking it and it just becomes actual confidence. And trust me, confidence is so attractive, not just in a romantic sense, but in all aspects. Wouldn’t you rather be friends with someone who seems confident and happy? Wouldn’t you rather date someone who is confident and happy? Wouldn’t you rather watch a comedian perform on stage who seems confident and like they’re having fun up there? I know I would! When you like yourself it makes it a lot easier for the people around you to like you too.
As an actress/comedian I try to ignore that little voice inside my head that tells me to look a certain way because at the end of the day I know that having “the perfect body” isn’t nearly as important as being talented, hard working, kind, a good collaborator, and confident. I have never once dieted or tried to lose a ton of weight just so I can get more roles. Maybe I’d be more successful if I did that (probably not) but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. It wouldn’t be true to me. And at the end of the day my most important relationship is the one I have with myself.
To follow up with that question, how do you deal with bullying or people talking negative about you? Can you give any examples of bullying in your personal life and how you handled it?
Like a lot of people I was bullied as a kid. And now as an adult I get to deal with delightful YouTube commenters who LOVE to say terrible things, especially to women on the internet. But it’s pretty easy to ignore bullies or internet trolls when you take a step back and realize what kind of person bullies another person: a deeply sad, insecure, angry person. So if some stranger says something mean about how I look in a YouTube comment, it’s easy to write that off because who gives a crap what some loser sitting at a computer writing insults to strangers thinks about me? Why should their opinion of me matter at all? It doesn’t! In the wise words of Taylor Swift, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. And that’s their sad problem, not mine.
What made you want to get involved with Mental Fitness, Inc. and what it is about the mission of Mental Fitness that speaks to you?
I think mental health is just as important as physical health. I have struggled with depression in my life and there have been plenty of times I’ve felt like I am just not good enough, not worthy of being loved, not “cool” enough, not funny enough, not pretty enough. I think every single person feels that way at some point in their lives. It’s incredibly common and I want people to know that it’s normal to feel this way, and that you can get help. Getting help and seeing a therapist has changed my life and changed how I see myself. Surrounding myself with friends and a community of people who love me for me has also helped.
I HATED middle school because, A, girls are absolutely awful and so mean at that age and, B, I wasn’t cool. I wasn’t hot. Boys weren’t interested in me. My friends were the popular girls and they were all thin and hot and cool and I didn’t really fit in. I was basing my self worth on how I looked and I was miserable. The only thing I liked about myself is that I could make people laugh. I was funny. Making people laugh made me happy, and it made me like myself. So I ditched the “friends” that made me feel bad, who didn’t appreciate me for who I was, and I made new friends who liked that I was funny and smart and a good friend and terrible at sports. There is so much more to us than what we look like! What is your favorite about yourself? What makes you proud to be you? What makes you happy? That’s what you should be focusing on!
Who were the role models in your life?
My mom was the biggest influence on me. She never once put any emphasis on how I looked. She taught me that being conventionally thin or pretty isn’t what’s important in life, being a hard worker, being smart, being kind, those are the most important things. My mom worked in finance and was one of very few women in her company for a long time. She taught me how to be a strong, opinionated woman in a very male-dominated field like comedy. She raised me to believe in myself and that I could do anything I set my mind to!
She also taught me that feeling depressed and being vulnerable didn’t mean I was weak or flawed or crazy. When I started feeling depressed in middle school she was the one that encouraged me to get therapy and get help. And that made a huge, huge difference.
What do you define as beautiful?
Confidence is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. That’s really all there is to it. And the good news is that means literally every human being is capable of being beautiful.
How do you define inner beauty?
I’d say confidence also plays a role in inner beauty, but being grateful for what you do have instead of bitter for what you don’t, being generous and thinking about others instead of always focusing on yourself – basically being a good friend to others is what defines inner beauty to me.
What is happiness?
Happiness is something we all deserve to feel but it can be really, really hard sometimes! Achieving happiness doesn’t mean your life has to be perfect in every way. I think anyone can find happiness by finding a way to appreciate what you have, appreciate the good people in your life, to be optimistic, to love who you are.
Would you be willing to take the Real Deal pledge? Thoughts about that? (http://wearetherealdeal.com/about/the-real-deal-pledge/)
Absolutely! I think everybody should live by these rules! It’s all about celebrating who you are instead of hating yourself because you can’t live up to some unrealistic standard of beauty or perfection. And it can be hard sometimes! It’s easy to compare yourself to others, to feel bad about yourself. So taking a pledge like this is a good way to remind yourself every day what’s actually important.
How do you manage your stress levels in daily life? Do you use music / art / dance, etc. as a coping tool? Are there other things that you do to live mindfully?
Managing stress is something I have to constantly work on every single day! I am a naturally very stressed out and anxious person. I have found that meditating helps to calm me down if I’m having a freak out. Also exercising for 30 minutes to an hour a couple days a week helps to keep me mentally healthy and serves as an outlet for stress. For me exercise isn’t about losing weight, it’s about releasing stress, getting my blood flowing, getting those endorphins flowing, and feeling healthy. Spending time with friends and family, cooking with my husband, taking time to enjoy my life and do things other than work helps me feel less stressed as well. Also talking through what’s stressing me with someone I trust helps me a lot. There have been times when I feel like stress is overwhelming me and I can’t control my anxiety and those are the times when I pick up the phone and call my therapist!
How do you find a work-life balance — as a woman, relationships, a professional — what are keys to balance?
This is definitely a challenge, and I think it is for everyone. I think the key to maintaining balance is making an effort! It doesn’t mean balance will always happen, but if you’re aware of it and you make an effort to balance things, that’s really the best you can do. My husband and I work a lot but we make sure to carve out time to hang out, go on dates, see friends, go for hikes, go to the farmer’s market, and do the things we enjoy. I’d hate to look back on my life and see that all I did was work!
If you can go back and talk to your younger self, what would you tell yourself and what would you tell others reading now?
I would tell myself and everyone reading this: you’re awesome. You’re lovable. You’re likeable. You’re cool. You’re beautiful. Just the way you are. Don’t let anyone else define how you feel about yourself. Don’t waste your time trying to convince mean people to like you, just cut them out of your life. They aren’t a friend to you if they make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t waste your time trying to be someone you’re not. And remember that you are loved!