Lauren Richards just hit the jackpot, starring alongside Angie Harmon in Lifetime’s Buried in Barstow.
Lauren’s character, Joy, is the daughter of Hazel King, played by Harmon.
We jumped on the phone with her to talk all about the movie and how she landed this exciting role.
It’s a very fun movie. What was the audition process like for you to join Buried in Barstow?
I got the breakdown from my agent with The People Store in Atlanta, and I got the breakdown. And I was like, ‘oh, my gosh, this character is so me.’ I loved the whole feeling of who she was.
And then the other cool thing that just truly hooked me in was when I saw Angie Harmon was going to be part of the project. And I immediately was like, ‘oh, I totally know that lady. She’s such a boss.’ I’ve definitely seen some Rizzoli and Isles, and I would love to get the opportunity.
And then of course, alongside that, I saw that Howard Deutsch was directing and that even further, I was like, ‘oh, my gosh, Pretty in Pink is one of my favorite 80s movies.’ So, I was freaking out about that as well. And so, for the audition process, I just sat down and thought about how much I related to Joy and I zoomed what am I offering.
My friend agreed to be my reader, and it really wasn’t this crazy process. I felt like I did a solid job. My friend was telling me he thought we did a solid job and just to submit it, and I submitted it. Then literally, probably the next day, I got in, which was so crazy. I had no callback for it. And then I started freaking out for sure.
So, what is it that you identify with about Joy?
Yeah, I’m so Joy. I would say she’s one of those people who’s not afraid to speak her mind. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and I can totally be like that at times.
She is pretty sassy, which, I’m not going to lie, I, too, can be a bit sassy when it comes to my feelings. And especially, if I’m talking to people who I’m super close with. I’m not afraid to express how I feel.
Another thing that I love about her is we just really want so much more for her life. I feel like she is stuck. She’s stuck in this town. She’s stuck with this job at the diner with her mom. And I think she’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life.
I truly related; I am such a dreamer. I have goals and aspirations. I have things that I truly want. You know, this life that I have, so I absolutely loved that about this character.
And obviously, you play Hazel’s daughter. What is Joy’s relationship with Hazel? How would you describe it?
It’s pretty rocky. Not going to lie, these two, Hazel and Joy, butt heads like crazy. They drive each other crazy. But another thing that is so beautiful about their relationship is they have this fierce love for each other. For Joy, Hazel is my mom, she’s all I have, you know?
And I would say in terms of Hazel, it’s the same way; we truly need each other. We’re all each other has. And that’s why, even though my mom’s love can be suffocating at times, I get it. I also understand, and I, too, believe that Joy also looks out for Hazel in this film, which I think is just adorable.
You know, and it’s no secret from the trailer. Hazel is hiding from a difficult past, and she’s hiding that from Joy. Given that relationship you just explained, if she discovered her mother’s secrets, how do you think that could change?
Hmm, that’s a good question. Yeah, oh, man. If anything, at first, I could see Joy running away. Truly, I think she wouldn’t even know who her mother was anymore.
I mean, she knows her mother’s tough. But being a hit woman is a different story. I could totally see Joy just being like, I don’t even know who you are. I don’t know who I am. There are so many questions that I haven’t answered. But I need to get away from you.
You know, Joy does have this sort of rebellious spirit, and she wants freedom anyway. So, I see that being her initial reaction. But I definitely think back to what we were saying — the bond between them is so strong that no matter what, even if it took time, I could see Joy trying to understand it more and still wanting her mom and her life. Yeah, definitely.
What was it like working with Angie Harmon?
Yeah, it’s really cool. Oh, gosh, Angie is wonderful. Trust me, she truly is just so cool. And a boss lady and fierce. I was so scared to meet her. You know, when you see her on screen, she’s so intimidating, right? And I was so scared to meet her.
But when I met her, gosh, she was just so warm and welcoming, and literally hugged me the minute I saw her and was so excited to have me. She doesn’t do that just for me. She does that with everyone in the cast and the crew on set. She truly makes everyone feel like they belong there, which I absolutely love about her.
And I would say another big thing about Angie that, honestly, really took me by surprise is that she is so funny. She’s a goofball. When she wasn’t super focused and executive producer, she would make us all laugh in between takes or in between scenes. She had us all laughing.
And that was another thing that really made me feel even more comfortable with her because I, too, can get be very silly and a goofball. And I was like, oh, yes, I feel even more of a connection with her now. So yeah, she’s awesome.
What does she do like kind of physical humor and being goofy like that? Or does she just say silly things? How would you describe her humor?
She’s good at impersonation. She would be impersonating characters from movies and TV shows. She loved to reenact scenes from movies and that totally cracked us all up. But she’s really good at these little voices and little characters that she comes up with. She would also be super sarcastic as well.
So, it’s both like she can be the super silly goofball, coming up with characters and making funny little voices, but then she can suddenly just be so sarcastic. She has so many levels and layers to her as a person, which I think is really cool.
Yeah, she can do it all, she truly can.
What was it like working with Kristoffer Polaha? He’s one of my favorite people. What did you think of him?
Oh, really? He is so cool. And before I even talk about who he is as a person, can I just say his voice is liquid gold? I told him this on day one. I was like, ‘oh, man, please tell me you do voiceover work because your voice is incredible.’
Yeah, his voice is very soothing.
Definitely. Not only that, but Kris, too, is hysterical. Actually, he and Angie would goof around a lot. It’s funny because, you know, they’re the adults and professionals on the set. That they would be the ones cracking jokes and being silly in between takes was so funny. But trust me they’re very professional.
One of the things that I really liked about him, and I’ll never forget it, on set, there was a very long day for me. And Kris told me earlier that day because he also had to work that day, he said, ‘Hey, we should grab lunch or dinner.’ I was like, ‘yeah, absolutely. I should be done soon.’
Turns out, I had several more hours of scenes to do. And when I got back to my trailer, I found out he was still in his trailer waiting for me. And I was like, ‘dude, you never have to do that. Absolutely not! You should have gone.’ It was late, you know. I think really speaks to what kind of person he is.
We had a really good talk that night. And I just thought it was so sweet that he took the time to want to get to know me and not even just me, but all the other actors and even the crew. He really liked to sit down and get to know people, which I think, is very important as an actor, you know? Getting to know who you’re working with is so valuable.
You know, you’re still relatively new in this business. So, what did you learn from these two veterans that will help you grow?
My God. Yes, for sure. I learned so much. I would say one of the biggest things that I learned being a lead was that it’s so cool to have more time with the director. I was even luckier to have time with Angie.
Because, you know, not only was she the executive producer, she’s also my scene partner in so many of the scenes, and I just learned so much from her as an actor, from both her and Kris. They’re both very giving.
I would even throw in Timothy Granadaro, who plays Travis, who is also just very giving. All the actors I worked with want you to do your best, and I wanted to do that in return. So, not only are they giving, but they just taught me so many technical things.
I learned a lot about how important it was just really hit your marks. There were scenes where we had to do a lot of blocking, and all this sort of moving and then hit this mark and then turn and make sure I look at Angie, and then cross and make sure I caught it the right time so Angie gets by me. We had to do all sorts of technical movement.
And that made me realize that acting is really a dance. So, not only did I have to connect with the other actors on screen, but I also had to really get my movements down. And once you are able to do both, it’s beautiful. It’s really cool.
Just some basic things like that. Another thing that I learned that I really appreciated from Angie, and by watching the other actors is to bring to the table what I want to do with Joy.
I felt like I had a lot of creative freedom with this project. One of the things that Howie did that I absolutely loved was that he got the shot he wanted. And then once how we got his paycheck and would give us a freebie.
He’d be like, ‘okay, I got what I want, and I’m satisfied now. You guys do whatever you want.’ Yes, I love that. It really loosens me up. And I think that that’s something so special that I’m not going to take for granted as a lead, for sure.
You know, Angie has a ridiculously supportive fan base. They follow her everywhere. You know, Lifetime movies are massive as it is. And now you’ve got one with Angie and Kris. Are you ready to be thrust into the limelight?
Gosh, man, you know, I’ve been working up to this for so long. I grew up actually doing theatre in high school and then I went to college for acting and then you know, from there, I got with my agent. So it truly feels like it is the next step.
I’m so excited that I got this role and so, so grateful to Lifetime and Angie and Howie for believing in me for this role. But yeah, I agree. It’s scary, right?
Oh, it is exciting. It feels like part of me is still cowering in the nest, but part of me is also so, so ready to just fly, and it’s a long time coming, in my opinion.
What is coming up next for you? I’m hoping that you’re going to be filming the second installment of this film series.
Definitely, that could be actually what’s coming up. I mean, I think even Angie mentioned it in other articles, but according to Angie, we’re supposed to be filming next month. I have no idea what the dates are yet. But that is on the horizon. So, I’m stoked.
And another cool thing that happened recently was Buried in Barstow got me an LA manager with Untitled Entertainment. They’ve been wonderful and have been giving me some wonderful auditions along with People Store Agency.
So, I’m just back to the actor grind right now and just auditioning, auditioning, and working, and working. But I cannot wait to be back on set with my Buried in Barstow family soon.
Buried in Barstow premieres tonight on Lifetime at 8/7c.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.