New York transplants Lauren Bedford Russell and Amanda Leigh Dunn, or self-proclaimed duo “LAmanda,” have reunited in Los Angeles and are making (heat) waves this summer on The Real L Word.
While The Real L Word captures a slice of the Amanda and Lauren’s lives they are accomplished women off camera. With a degree in business Amanda has delved into event coordinating, PR and marketing as well as helping to launch several charities including Cinema for Peace, Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute’s charity FFAWN, and the Museum of Natural History’s first green scholarship fundraiser gala.
Fans of the show will recognize Lauren’s amazing fine jewelry line Lyon, which includes her Equality and Rock the Vote bracelets.
SheWired caught up with the best friends – and sometimes more – to chat about what it’s like being on the show, how their friendship and roommate situation have evolved, and what’s in store for fans.
Everyone knows that you’ve been best friends for years. How did you two meet?
Lauren Russell: Our friend Jen saw (Amanda) on this lesbian site, and she basically sent her picture to me and was like, "Look at this chick on this site." It was this thing where everyone was supporting her friend who –
Amanda Dunn: It was called Project Reveal. We were all just supporting them because it was like Facebook for lesbians. So one of Lauren's friends sent her my picture and was like, "Heyyy, look at this girl.”
LR: Somehow we became friends on Facebook. Then me, Jen and Amanda all decided to meet up and be friends. And then Amanda and I just like made out the rest of the night. Yeah, that's how we met. We got in trouble because we were making out on the couch for like three hours.
This season focuses on NYC v. LA. What do you think is the difference between Los Angeles and New York?
AD: It’s a lot smaller in New York – not even smaller, it’s just a little bit less spread out. It definitely changes according to the area that you’re in. If you’re in the city, there’s definitely an aesthetic that’s really different than if you’re in Williamsburg, which is a little bit more grungy. It’s like a little bit more – I wouldn’t say more feminine – aesthetically, it’s super different. In LA, the LA look sort of flows over into the lesbian scene.
What’s living together like? Sometimes you can be best friends with a person but be horrible roommates. Are you still getting along?
LR: We honestly had always been really stable friends. Nothing has really gotten between our relationship. We're very chill, we have a very comfortable relationship, and living together was just pretty easy. We do so much stuff together, but I think comparatively to other people, I think we do pretty well considering how much time we do spend together.
AD: We don't fight a lot – I don't really know why, but it just works.
Given your history of being friends with benefits, were you concerned at all deciding to be roommates? Did you think anything would happen, or did you want anything to happen?
AD: We can't really say a lot, but we're always friends first. There's not really anything that can break that, whether it would be a relationship or hooking up with each other or anything. We're like family to each other. So whatever might come and go and remain and whatever, it's not going to change how we view each other as people and how we carry on in our day-to-day lives together. We have a lot of care and respect for each other.
So, how did both of you decide to do the show?
LR: For me it was not something I had planned to do. My really good friend Amber and I were at dinner, and she's like, "I'm applying to be on the show," and I was like, "What?" She’s really down to earth and cool… She was like, “You should do it, too,” and I was like, “I don't know,” and she was like, “C’mon just try it out with me… I can possibly show some more femininity to the lesbian world. I feel like showing feminine girls is important because for me before I came out, I was like, there's no pretty, feminine lesbians around.
AD: Making such a big decision moving 3,000 miles across the country and then making another big decision right before I came out – to just put my world on display – it was nerve-wracking. At the same time, I probably know Lauren better than I know anyone in the world, so it was just sort of like if I'm going to do it, I'll do it with somebody I trust and care about. It's definitely a big decision when it comes to opening up your world and basically trusting these people with letting you be interpreted any way that they please. At the same time we hope that it will sort of integrate the community a little bit more and show people what our lives are like. The cast members on the show are all so different, but I think it's just a really good balance.
More on next page...
Was anything on the show edited in a way that was different from the way you thought it happened?
AD: It was a really long time that they were filming for, and if you think about it, there's a lot of characters on the show – we're literally showcased for minutes at a time. So if you're going to chop everything up, you're obviously going to take the more dramatic points, and then place them over interviews. When we say things during interviews, God knows what context we're saying them in, but it will come out. I think that they do a good job of making it a fun and interesting show, and I think that there are roots to the story, but it definitely is a little dramatic.
Speaking of drama, what’s up with that love triangle with Brittanelle?
LR: I felt like I was not playing into her invading my house. It's like anything when your friend that you haven't seen in a long time is in town… anyone would be annoyed. I definitely didn't appreciate the way she would treat me in my own house, and that definitely got on my nerves, but I tried not to engage too much because I didn't want to make problems. So it just kind of got to the situation where I just didn't want to even be in the same room with her – and you saw on the show – she picked on me sort of. It was a really weird situation for me to be in. I obviously wanted Amanda to be happy if she wanted to be with this person, but I also wanted to be like, “Hey, I know a little more about you than this person. I've been in LA with this person.”
AD: Also, it was just sort of more playful than anything. I think when you come to a new city, and you settle in, and you're moving, there's a lot of stuff going on that can be really crazy. So to all of a sudden have a person around constantly when you're just trying to nest and settle is a lot. But it was put out pretty quickly, and it wasn't even in a way that was mean or anything, it was just bad timing, and Lauren and I had stuff to do.
How has being on the show affected you individually and how has it affected your friendship? Do you watch what you say when you’re on camera, or are you pretty comfortable in front of the camera?
LR: In the interviews I was always pretty careful, but out in the real world, when they're filming us all the time, after a while you go nuts trying to filter yourself. You just can't. That’s when the real stuff comes out – especially when you involve alcohol. You just can't help it. Everyone has their moments.
Is there anything you wish didn't make it on camera?
AD: We can't really talk about that. We see the show when you guys do, so right now of course we have moments like, “Ooh.” There'll be more to come, I’m sure, but that's just a part of it. You just have to, at some point, relax and just know that I don't think people are going to remember one scene – they're going to remember your entire personality and persona. As long as you come across as a good person, I think that's important.
When you go out in public do people recognize you? Are you used to all the attention now?
LR: I try not to acknowledge or look for it because that will just drive you crazy, but yeah, we've all been recognized.
AD: Especially when we go out together. If a girl is walking around with pink hair and another girl is walking around with white hair, it's kind of hard to be like, “Oh, maybe those are those girls.” We don't really look like normal. We're not the normal brunette, J-crew wearing like whatever…”
LR: We stand out, I think.
More on next page...
What's the craziest or weirdest thing a fan has done when you're out in public?
LR: I've had people take pictures of me that I didn't know they were taking and then I see them online.
AD: That's annoying – it's not polite. If you're sitting there at dinner, and somebody just turns around and takes a photo of you and pretends like they're not – just ask me. It's just weird and kind of embarrassing.
LR: At the same time, I think everyone's been there. I don't put myself on any level of any people that I would take a picture of or anything like that. I think everyone knows what that's like. My goal is to actually be like Whitney because she kind of coached me. She just gave some helpful hints, and I think it's been already really beneficial. You feel good about it – you're giving to them, and then you get some happiness in return.
AD: It's crazy how much people appreciate you just taking time. For the gay community there's not as many people as in the straight community that are OK with putting their life on blast. There's definitely a level of people that appreciate it. I've definitely gotten some weird messages and stuff, but nothing that's crazy or offensive. And I think it kind of just comes with it.
How have your families responded to you being on the show?
AD: I think it's hard because they're very private. They have a conservative outlook on things, and it tends to not be a very conservative show. It's also hard for people just watching you in your day-to-day life anyway – it follows a lot of things. I’m close with my siblings, and they're super supportive. I wouldn't say that my family isn't supportive – they're a little shocked.
LR: My family's been awesome. My dad has watched the original L Word since the beginning and also watched this show… And my mom is just getting really into it – she can't wait to see this episode. I couldn't ask for anything better.
Lauren, what's in the works for your jewelry line?
LR: I have a lot of stuff going on, really exciting stuff. I have an equality ring I just made. I've got some new pieces coming out in the next couple weeks. I did a lot of stuff for work on the show but I don’t know how much will be shown. But now that the filming is over, I have a lot more time, so I’m going to get into more stores. My line’s going to be in Kiki de Montparnasse in Vegas, LA and New York… The cool thing is that a lot fans have had a good response to my jewelry. If I can somehow give back to the community in that way it’s pretty cool – a lot of my pieces have nothing to do with equality or any kind of charity but it’s exciting for the stuff that is.
Amanda, what’s up next for you?
AD: I’m just doing a lot of stuff with nationally kind of getting into collaborations with clients that I’ve worked with in the past and trying to incorporate a charity aspect. … And I’m working with a couple of new artists right now and just getting stuff going.
Any last comments or teasers?
LR: I think as everyone can see the show is really progressing, and I think it’s getting a little more exciting, so we’ll see what happens. I’ll just say that trust that there’s going to be some good stuff, and I think everyone’s going to be really happy with the show at the end of the season. It could possibly be my favorite.