When I first met actress Lauren Ashley Carter, it was in Park City during the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival. She was part of the cast of “Jug Face,” where her character, pregnant with her brother’s child, tries to escape from her backwoods community after learning that she is to be sacrificed to a creature that lives in a deep pit. Yeah, it was a creepy, spooky independent film—but extremely entertaining.
Since that time, she’s taken on the Indie Horror genre with aplomb, using her innocent-victim looks with Susan Sarandon-like eyes to cast her spell in a number of films, as well as in both New York City and regional theatre productions, and an episode of “Law and Order: SVU.” She’s the star of writer-director Mickey Keating’s recently released black-and-white thriller “Darling,” a film Entertainment Weekly had on its Top 10 “Must List” in its April 1/8 double issue.
But don’t be fooled. This Ohio native, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Performance at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, is a multi-talented performer who is far from just a typecast victim. She’s had classical training in both vocal and piano, and can do accents in five different languages. She has her own production company, and she’s collaborated with comedian and friend Lewis Black on a web series called “The Mentors.” Life and career are going along nicely for Lauren Ashley Carter.
“I grew up watching these types of movies,” she said in an interview from her New York City apartment. “I always wanted to be involved in movies like these. The stories work themselves into our brains, and sometimes we can’t sleep. They actually make you think a lot and, at times, laugh a lot. That’s how you deal with the suspense. And working with the casts I’ve been part of has been amazing.”
One of those cast members is veteran actress Sean Young, who starred opposite Lauren in both “Jug Face” and “Darling,” where Lauren plays a young woman looking after a New York brownstone that has a haunting past—and present. Her performance is garnering rave reviews.
She was wrapping her newest film, “Imitation Girl,” at the time of our interview. Her character is actually two in this film—that of an alien being who falls to Earth’s shores and takes the human form of a semi-successful actress hoping to change careers and become a classical pianist.
“The actress makes adult films, but she wants to take her life in a different direction,” Lauren said. “She needs to make some money, and stays in the ‘movie’ business longer than she thought she would. The alien imitation finds herself taken in by Iranian immigrants in New Mexico, and her understanding of these strange human species begins to expand. So it becomes a great contrast and a challenge for both of them—the alien imitation inside the real girl.”
Eventually, the cosmic twins meet as the film concludes, each finding how they complete the portrait of a woman.
Once filming in both New Mexico and New York ended, Lauren began the ritual of all actors living in the city—heading to auditions, looking for parts, scripting new ideas for her production company and planning ahead. For her, the future includes a desire to do more writing for the stage or screenplays. Sometimes opportunities have come her way, and sometimes they haven’t. That’s a part of the business.
“Rejection was never an issue for me,” she said. “I’ve always understood its chemistry—how certain looks mesh with actors and directors, and things you can’t control. It’s also a matter of meeting people you trust and can work with at the same time. You can have talent and passion about this business, but it’s impossible to do everything on your own. You have to surround yourself with good people. My network is great, and we keep each other sane.”
Though her star continues to rise in the horror-film scene, Lauren has other aspirations as well.
“One reason we got into this business is that we can’t stay in one place too long,” she said with a laugh. “I would like to play a villain sometimes instead of a victim. I would love to do more comedy, something where I could get a physical comedic role. I’d love to do that.”
But her focus is “to just always be working—in film, on stage, wherever.”
That seems very likely for Lauren Ashley Carter, who will be coming to a screen or stage near you very soon.