Estée Lauder once said that “actresses were the epitome of beauty and glamour” and that she “dreamed of being an actress — name in lights, flowers, handsome men.” Working as an actress both for film and on stage, Danielle Lauder wasn’t initially aware that she was realizing the early dreams of her great-grandmother Estée. But now, less than a year after graduating from Northwestern University, she's just completed her first movie, The Charnel House, and has been thrust into the hustle and bustle of the entertainment industry. How does she adapt to this new pace of life? Time management and a collection of climate-counteracting cosmetics, of course.
EL: How did you come to study acting at Northwestern?
DL: Though I didn’t know that my great grandmother wanted to be an actress until I started pursuing it, I always felt like I had a part of Estée in me. Her quote, “I never dreamed of success, I always worked for it” always stuck with me. After being cast as an extra in Garden State and getting to know Northwestern alumni and actor Zach Braff, I always had the school in the back of my mind. I knew I wanted to study film and theater, so when it came time to apply, it seemed like the right choice. Each year, no matter what, I act in a movie during the summer and have worked at different places in the industry so that when I graduate, I can start working as much as possible. I love being on set. I filmed The Charnel House, a supernatural thriller, in which I had my first lead role, in June.
EL: Now that your movie is set to premiere, what does it feel like to see yourself on screen? Have you watched your performance?
DL: Watching myself as Emily in The Charnel House was really exciting, and it was satisfying to see the whole movie with special effects come together. However, every time I watch the film or my selected scenes, I still act like my own director and I have a critical eye toward my performance. Though painful at times, it has been immensely helpful in learning how to work with the camera to ultimately convey the truth we see in reality but cannot always capture.
EL: Who are your female role models?
DL: My great grandmother Estée and my grandmother Evie are the two most inspiring people to me. I’m also impressed by so many educated, poised, smart and talented actresses like Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, Natalie Portman and Emma Watson. They’re brilliant in terms of acting, but also in terms of influence. Amy Schumer is an unparalleled comedienne. There’s not that much comedy driven toward women and she can be raunchy and crude, but is refreshingly unapologetic about it. She’s so self-deprecating while being comfortable with herself. I love that she’s flipping the narrative for female and male stereotypes in society.
EL: Has your skincare regimen or beauty routine changed since graduating from Northwestern? If so, how?
DL: I have become much more diligent and have expanded my skincare and beauty regimen immensely. Instead of only worrying about the cold weather at school, I am dealing with a variety of different temperatures and weather conditions in Los Angeles. While it is much warmer and sunnier than Chicago, the air is still very dry and windy. Because of this combination, I choose different products based on the day, whether it’s an acne treatment product with SPF, or a light, oil-free moisturizer. Overall, I have learned to be much more mindful about skincare as a lifestyle choice, and it’s something that I have to constantly think about and take care of through prevention instead of reaction. I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to trying out different products in different situations to find the right combinations for my skin, especially because working as an actress involves endless days in massive amounts of makeup..
EL: What are some new favorite products you’re loving these days and why?
Any products I can use to achieve an even skin tone with as little makeup possible is my ideal, given how often I am required to apply, reapply, and scrub off makeup. My recent skincare favorites are the Advanced Night Repair serum and PowerFoil Mask. Even if I don’t have wrinkles yet, I have noticed the stress and wear-and-tear on my skin that comes with a life and career in front of the camera, and I see a difference that these products make in replenishing my complexion.
EL: Have you picked up secrets on set from makeup artists?
DL: Several makeup artists on set both for theatre and film have taught me about contouring. The shadows on your face are so important, especially for film. Figuring out which facial areas catch light is key.
My entire family has stressed the importance of skin care.
EL: Any tips you’ve picked up from your fellow Lauders?
DL: My entire family has stressed the importance of skin care. My grandmother advised me to drink a ton of water when I woke up and she’d tell me which foods are good for my skin. She would always make sure I wore sunscreen. She taught me well: Once I started taking care of my skin, I was so much happier with the way it looked.
EL: If you could offer advice to your high-school self, what would you say?
DL: I’d say that being an adult is harder than you think. Don’t be afraid of the future. Don’t let yourself have a plan B to fall back on, because you shouldn’t apologize for your plan A, i.e., what you want to do. Be yourself, even if people don’t like it or support your dreams. If you know in your heart that it’s what you’re meant to do, then you can fail wholeheartedly and be that much more grateful for the successes that come your way.