hair + makeup/Laura Mitchell
Laura Hajek is a jacqueline of all trades when it comes to artistic endeavors. A musician (Edith Pop), an actress, and a visual artist, Hajek leaves her own quirky mark on everything she touches. We recently chatted with the Upstate New York Native about music, acting, social media, and the release of her new movie, “The Dinner”, a full length feature starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Chloe Sevigny.
If there was a recipe that somebody had to follow and you were the main course, what would the ingredients be that created you and the artist that you are today?
Probably, I would say classic musical theater, Rogers and Hammerstein, and that kind of era of Broadway, and a little bit of folk like Ani DiFranco followed by a heavy heaping of glam rock and New York punk.
Did you grow up with creative parents?
Absolutely. My dad was a musician and my mom was a big arts appreciator so she kinda fostered my love of the arts.
How would you describe yourself first? First a musician or first an actress?
First an actress and then I would say musician but it’s all kinda the same thing.
Are there any themes that you as an artist keep going back to?
Yeah, humor and boredom.
Is “The Dinner” your first big movie?
Yes, before that I was in “Lake Nowhere” which was like an Indie horror movie, but it wasn’t a full length. So this is the biggest project I’ve been in so far.
What was it like for you?
It was thrilling! I was surrounded by a bunch of great people, it was a really creative and wonderful set to be on. I made friends that I still have today. So it was great!
Can you tell us the story of how it all happened and the development of your acting career?
Well I’ve been acting and auditioning since I was a kid and did theater all throughout my schooling. Initially moved to New York to participate in experimental theater with a focus on Shakespeare. After a while I realized that I liked working in film more probably because of the pacing of it and the way that you finish you have a record of what you have done. So I was doing a lot of independent film projects in New York with my friends that were in a collective, and we made “Lake Nowhere”. I’m always trying to find interesting people to collaborate with, so when I started my friendship with Oren Moverman, the director of “The Dinner”, we just hit it off right away, so when he mentioned that he wanted me to come in and audition I was really excited.
How do you think it is being an artist in the digital era… having so many people be able to see your work instantly, as compared to the past? Does it change the way you create?
I think so. I feel like it’s more liberating and more restrictive, because anyone can make a movie. I like to do Facebook Live because you get an immediate audience and you can see the audience reaction in real time it’s like a live critique. It gives you the opportunity to workshop an idea and try it out in front of other people as opposed to assembling a whole crew. But at the same time I think it’s difficult for artists because in a professional setting you’re supposed to maintain all of the business and promotional side of your career before you’re established. Record labels or casting directors won’t even look at you if you don’t have a social media following and in that way it’s difficult. You have to be more business minded than before.
What musicians or movements influenced you musically?
I was really heavily influenced by Jonathan Richman because of the style of lyrics and the topics that he tackles. Which are like these boring mundane day-to-day situations that people get themselves into. Musically I love a lot of pop music and I love “arty pop punk music” like Robyn, I love Joanna Newsom, I love Black Flag. It’s kind of like a mix of hard and soft sounds.
Is there a difference in the way that you’re treated in the film world as opposed to the music world?
It’s interesting it’s like two sides of one coin. With some I make money and I get respect when I show up to set and get the work done that I’m expected to do, while the process of auditioning can be really humiliating. But in music I find that people are really excited to see your shows, and people keep saying good things about your music but then when you show up to actually collect the money afterward you’re treated like you’re trying to rob a venue. Music is more liberating because you get the instant gratification of playing in front of a live audience and make your choices and be as wild as you want. In acting you’re trying to portray someone else’s vision and have respect for it.
Do you find that there are different types of egos in film and music?
There are different types of egos. Usually when I work with actors each actor is harboring a deep insecurity of their own talents…self included.
If you could star in any remake of a movie what would it be?
Klute where Jane Fonda plays this slick damaged NYC prostitute, it’s amazing.
Do you have any music coming out?
“The Dinner” came out May 5th and I’m playing a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood in Saratoga, New York in on June 16th.