Lauren Miller Rogen is a screenwriter, director, producer, dog lover, and philanthropist, whose life has been touched many times over by Alzheimer’s.
Here is what Lauren had to say when we asked her about writing your own story:
What is HFC and what inspired you to start your own organization?
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 55 years old, and I was only 25. I became depressed, and my career slowed. A friend came to me and pitched the idea of starting a charity. At first, I was hesitant, but I eventually agreed. HFC is a way for us to use the industry we know to raise money for Alzheimer’s care and research. Every year, HFC hosts a variety show that has already generated over $12 million. My work with HFC has made me realize that so many young people have been touched by this disease, and there are so many ways they can support this cause by using social media platforms, donating to birthdays, and starting fundraisers. Every one of us can also take better care of our brains. Just like we exercise the rest of our bodies, we should be taking care of our most important organ.
Storytelling is an important part of your work as a screenwriter and philanthropist. What are the most important aspects of storytelling that young women can apply to their own lives?
It’s about telling YOUR story, and that can be in anything. Everyone who puts themselves out there is telling their own story. Take the time to look at yourself and think about what you want to put out there. For example, in my own life I love to explore female friendship because my closest girlfriends are a huge pillar of my life. I like to tell those stories because I can really feel that and it means something to me.
For people interested in creating their own career paths like yourself, what advice do you have for finding mentors and supporters along the way to help you navigate your journey?
It has to happen naturally. It needs to be an authentic connection for it to mean something. You want to find people who understand what you’re trying to do and where you’re trying to go. This isn’t necessarily the person who is always telling you that you’re doing a good job. It can be someone who is more critical of you, but who sees your potential and is going to help and push you to get there.
People who create their own paths are often very resilient. How can young women build resilience to achieve their goals?
Rejection doesn’t feel good and it never stops, but it can be helpful. In Hollywood, you can have a job one year, but then the next you’re trying to find a new one. If you don’t get something that you want, keep on going! Take time to truthfully reflect on what you want and follow the path you need to get there. This path might take unexpected twists and turns, but it’s okay to go in different directions; just remain true to your authentic self. As long as you’re willing to start at the bottom and work hard, you can go anywhere you want.
What can young women in high school and college do to prepare for a career in the entertainment industry?
These days, anyone can make a movie on their smartphone–use this to your advantage! Start doing whatever you think you want to do now. If you want to be a writer, start writing. If you want to be a cinematographer, make a movie with your friends. Just take steps in the direction of what you think you want to do. The entertainment industry is one in which you can learn a lot from keeping your head down for a few years. When I first moved to LA and worked as an intern, I made it a point to learn from every opportunity I had. If I was taking notes during a meeting, I paid attentioned to the jargon executives used when speaking to each other. Learning from those who have already done what you’re hoping to do is invaluable. I also want you to know that you always have something to offer. What I learned working at the Gap when I was younger is that even if you don’t have exactly what someone is looking for, you have something else to offer. Sometimes I would have to say, ‘We’re out of the jeans, but what I can do is..’ You have things you’re good at and skills you can offer that are always valuable.
Lauren Miller Rogen is a screenwriter, director, producer, dog lover, and philanthropist, whose life has been touched many times over by Alzheimer’s. In 2012—when Lauren’s mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at just 55 years old— Lauren, still in her twenties, co-founded HFC to activate the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates. Since then, Lauren and the HFC team have brought significant awareness to Alzheimer’s, raising over $12 million and awarding over 290,000 hours of in-home care to families all while using humor and hope to engage people. Her dedication to sharing her personal story and using humor as a form of advocacy has left an indelible impact on the Alzheimer’s space. Since 2013, Lauren has served as the Alzheimer’s patient advocate on the board of California’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). She also sits on the California Alzheimer’s Task Force. In 2012, Lauren starred in, co-wrote, and produced the film For A Good Time Call, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. She made her feature-length directorial debut in 2018 with the “dramedy” Like Father, a film she wrote and which starred Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer. If there is one thing Lauren wants people to remember, it’s that Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be sad or scary when you’re fighting against it. You can come to an HFC event and have fun, but also do something for Alzheimer’s.
To learn more about how Lauren’s story inspired her to start HFC, visit https://wearehfc.org/.
Contributor: Celine Farhadi