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Lauren Steele: ‘Queens Girl’ actress and ‘Nighttime’ singer

Stage & Studio: Dmae Roberts talks with the rising star, who is wowing theater audiences and carrying forward a rich family musical legacy.

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Hear past shows on Stage & Studio website. Theme Music by Clark Salisbury. “Nighttime Friends” the opening track is available on Apple Music and Spotify. )

To say that Lauren Steele is a gifted actress is an understatement. In 2019 she delighted audiences with a tour de force performance playing 19 characters in Queens Girl in the World,  by Caleen Sinnette Jennings. Steele showed the grace and ease of a veteran actress decades older than her years as she seamlessly moved from one character to another. This performance won her a Drammy that year. At the time, she was a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University. Now she’s performing multiple roles in the second part of Jennings’ trilogy, in Queens Girl in Africa at Clackamas Repertory Theater, running through April 24.

But that’s one part of Lauren Steele’s talents. Born into a legendary Blues family headed by her  mom LaRhonda Steele, who’s the considered the first lady of Blues in Portland, Lauren and her sister and father are all great musicians. (Lauren Steele’s music is available on Apple Music and Spotify. )

In this podcast we’ll hear:

A clip of her mesmerizing single “Nighttime Friends.”

What it’s like to work in front of an audience post-pandemic:

“I think there’s like just a certain warmth and appreciation, that we all have cast crew audience just to be here with one another and to be breathing in the same space. From underneath our masks. A warmth and a joy. We have to be able to experience each other.  And I think, you know, as an actor, I’ve had an opportunity to do a lot of, self work and it’s hopefully made me a better performer and a better actor.”

And about being in a musical family with a mom like La Rhonda Steele:

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“I know that my first time being recorded on a, on a CD was on Norman Sylvester’s album. I probably had to be like six (on a) song called Redemption Time. So, that was my first experience as a recording artist. And then, in terms of being on stage, there are videos of me on our hip, on stage at the blues festival when I was three years old.”

Hear a previous Stage & Studio episode with mom La Rhonda Steele. 

https://stagenstudio.com/2020/09/larhonda-steele/

And check out Marty Hughley’s preview of Queens Girl in Africa, and his DramaWatch review of the show.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Dmae Roberts is a two-time Peabody winning radio producer, writer and theatre artist. Her work is often autobiographical and cross-cultural and informed by her biracial identity. Her Peabody award-winning documentary Mei Mei, a Daughter’s Song is a harrowing account of her mother’s childhood in Taiwan during WWII. She adapted this radio documentary into a film. She won a second Peabody-award for her eight-hour Crossing East documentary, the first Asian American history series on public radio. She received the Dr. Suzanne Ahn Civil Rights and Social Justice award from the Asian American Journalists Association and was selected as a United States Artists (USA) Fellow. Her stage plays and essays have been published in numerous publications. She published her memoir The Letting Go Trilogies: Stories of a Mixed-Race Family in 2016. As a theatre artist, she has won two Drammys, one for her acting and one for her play Picasso In The Back Seat which also won the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been produced in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, NYC and Florida. Roberts is the executive producer of MediaRites, a nonprofit multicultural production organization and co-founder of Theatre Diaspora, an Asian American/Pacific Islander non-profit theatre that started as a project of MediaRites. She created the Crossing East Archive of more than 200 hours of broadcast-quality, pan-AAPI interviews and oral histories. For 23 years, Roberts volunteered to host and produce Stage & Studio live on KBOO radio. In 2009, she started the podcast on StagenStudio.com, which continues at ArtsWatch.

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