Lauren Bedford Russell is best known for her role on the hit Showtime series, The Real L-Word.
But the West Hollywood resident, aside from her reality acting career, has several coals in the fire, including her personal jewelry line, Lyon Fine Jewelry.
Having worked with the likes of Kelly Osborne, Joe Jonas, Cyndi Lauper and others, Russell, the creator of the popular 'Rock the Vote' bracelets, checks in with West Hollywood Patch to chat about her career as a high-end jeweler, her experience as a cast member on The Real L-Word, and issues prominent in the gay community.
West Hollywood Patch: The Real L-Word…how did you come about being on the show?
Lauren Bedford Russell: I actually had a friend who was auditioning for the show and I previously had some friends that were on the show. So I decided to go for it and help the world see a more feminine lesbian than they’re used to. There are millions of other women like me that are gay but you just don’t know it because there is this stereotype. My motivation was to go on the show and help break that stereotype.
WHP: How was your personal experience on the show?
LBR: It was an awesome experience. You don’t really know what to expect when you’re doing something like this for the first time. It turned out to be really therapeutic and I learned a lot about myself. The best part was really after the show, once it started airing and people started responding. I feel so blessed and lucky to get such a good response from people. A lot of people tell me, “You helped me come out,” and, “You helped me realize I was gay.” That’s the best thing I could ever hear. It’s really touching and inspiring. It’s amazing to feel that.
WHP: Lyon Fine Jewelry, your personal line…it’s amazing. Where did the name come from?
LBR: My dad’s middle name is Lion and I always thought that was so rad (laughs). There are a lot of Lauren’s in the jewelry business and I figured I’d do something original. All of my pieces are named after places around the world, cities and towns. So I thought it kind of fit, considering Lyon, France is a city obviously.
WHP: How did you get your start with the company?
LBR: It was a long, long process. I worked for various jewelry companies but I started sketching on my own and realized there was this spot in the marketplace that wasn’t being tapped into, and that’s the area of really cutting edge, urban jewelry. I got a lot of support from friends and family who believed I actually had the talent. I started piece-by-piece and built the company all by myself.
WHP: What are some of the inspirational factors behind your jewelry design?
LBR: I get inspiration from buildings, clothing, shoes, or just walking around and seeing something that inspires me. But I also can sit down and just lock myself in a room and come up with stuff. I’ve done it both ways. My biggest seller is my Equality Ring, which is really simple and really classic. Even if you aren’t a gay rights activist, you won’t even know that it’s an equality symbol.
WHP: What role does living in an eclectic city like West Hollywood play in your designs?
LBR: I do a lot of my designing in New York City, but West Hollywood is just more of a happy environment. While I’m here, I plan to soak it up and take advantage of this weather (laughs).
WHP: Those ‘Rock the Vote’ Bracelets, I’ve seen them everywhere. Are you big into politics?
LBR: I’m not big into politics but I am big into voting. For me, I believe in always trying to make the world a better place, whether it’s voting or equal rights or making the most of your abilities.
WHP: There are so many equality issues going on today, namely same-sex marriage. What effect have these issues and debates had on you?
LBR: I think we’re going far really fast, but I’m shocked at how long it’s taken. I’m surprised the equal rights issue has just come on the scene recently. It’s baffling to me that this has just become a big cause. But I think it’s progressing really quickly. We’re going to get there with time and I think it’s going to take a president that not only wants to enforce equal rights but fight for it in every state.
WHP: You’ve worked with some pretty high-profile celebrities. Once you begin working with them, is it a situation where you design for them personally? In other words, are there items that Kelly Osborne is wearing that aren’t for sale to the public?
LBR: If I design something specifically for a client, I leave it to them to decide if they want it to be one of a kind. Most people do, especially with wedding rings. They want to keep it private. But if someone doesn’t mind and it’s something I’m really proud of, I want to get it up and on my site.