Growing up in Chicago in the ’80s and’ 90s, actress Lauren Ridloff hasn’t seen many people like her on television or in movies. As a deaf black Latina woman, it was rare that her lived experience was reflected on her.
“I saw pieces of myself there, I think it was very common for a lot of people,” Lauren said. Women’s health. “But honestly, I didn’t have anyone I admired even as a kid.”
Over the years, thanks to creators like super producer Shonda Rhimes, model actress Nyle DiMarco and the team behind the recent film CODA (meaning “Children of Deaf Adults”) – that representation gap has started to narrow, Lauren says, albeit slowly. And, of course, she played an important role in bringing deaf characters to life onscreen.
Originally a teacher, Lauren got her big acting break from Broadway production in 2018 Children of an inferior God, for which she got a Tony nomination. She then landed the role of Connie in the hit AMC television series. The walking dead, and this week, can be seen in Marvel’s latest entry Eternals, as the MCU’s first deaf superhero.
Lauren plays the speedster Makkari, who in the comics was a white hearing. Lauren admits she still isn’t sure exactly why writer-director Chloe Zhao picked her for the role, but she has a theory: “In my head, Marvel was looking at the characters and saw that they had to be representative of the world, more. than what you see in the comics, ”she says. “It was time to do that jump and that jump. “
Granted, making that leap took some work on Lauren’s part – you don’t just walk onto the set of a Marvel movie (!). No, Lauren worked hard with a team of coaches to transform into an Eternal and had her own fitness “awakening” in the process.
Read on to find out how she keeps physical and mental shape.
Lauren feels totally in the zone when she runs.
The 43-year-old has been hitting the streets since high school, when she joined the track team because she thought the coach was cute. (Reliable, a lot?) “It wasn’t instant love,” admits Lauren while competing in the 100 and 200-meter sprints. “I didn’t know how to breathe; everything in my body hurts.
But she continued to train to earn points with the coach, and all these years later, she’s glad she did. As an adult, she’s stuck with a three to four day-per-week running schedule, typically covering about four to five miles at a time.
For Lauren, running is not so much a matter of physical form as it is of mental form. “This is my meditation,” she said. “It’s my way of relaxing and really contemplating and thinking. I can’t fully wake up until I have run.
To play a runner, she focused on strength training.
Since her character, Makkari, is a speedster, you would think of Lauren a lot. Eternals training was reportedly centered on his beloved hobby, running. Not so. Instead, trainer David Higgins and his team devised a weight training and Pilates regimen to build muscle (especially on Lauren’s lower half) so that she see like a sprinter.
For weight training, that meant “a lot” of weighted squats and step-ups. For Pilates, this meant a lot of basic work on the reforming device, which came in handy when Lauren had to shoot her scenes at high speed. “A lot of it was wire work – running in place and leaning forward,” says Lauren. “It meant a lot of grassroots commitment, and David prepared me for it.”
Now Lauren likes to mix run and weights for a more focused workout.
Lauren credits Marvel Boot Camp for her “awakening” to fitness and says she took what she learned on set and incorporated it into her daily routine (though not quite the same superhero level). “I turned more to bodybuilding [in addition to running], and now I feel like my workout routine is so much more focused, ”she says. “Thanks to Pilates, I became much more aware of my core, my muscles, my back engagement, everything really. And I infused that with yoga into my routine.
Just like running, Lauren finds yoga to be a body and brain pacifier. Really, she says, she has a soft spot for all movement-based activities where she can focus on her heart rate and breathing to find calm. “My heart rate is very stable,” she says. “It’s very calming.
Watch Lauren crush more Pilates reformer workouts in the upcoming videos:
Lauren supplements her training program by following a plant-based diet.
Although she grew up in a vegetarian family, Lauren didn’t try the meatless lifestyle until several years ago, when she became a vegan. Although she says she learned a lot about her body by eating this way, she decided to go back to eating meat and now describes herself as a “vegetarian who eats meat on the side”.
For breakfast, she’ll usually have a bowl of mixed cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, topped with fruit (although lately she’s been “obsessed” with the seasonally appropriate pumpkin puree). For lunch it’s usually a wrap (“salad with some kind of protein”), and for dinner she likes to end her day with “lots of veg” and maybe a side of chicken.
Lauren doesn’t have a sweet tooth and prefers salty snacks like cheese puffs and popcorn. “The only thing I liked about being vegan,” she says, “was that it made me discover ‘nooch’. ”It’s nutritional yeast, for the uninitiated, and Lauren loves sprinkling it on her popcorn for added flavor.
Ultimately, she’s also working on loosening up a bit.
Lauren admits that initially, after being chosen as Marvel’s first deaf superhero, she felt very responsible for representing her community. But lately, she has slacked off on it all.
“When I was running the other day, I had this revelation that it was not my responsibility to be the representative of a certain group of people,” she says. “It is my responsibility to be the representative of whom I am, and as long as I stay genuine, and as long as I can actually tell the truth about who I personally am, it will eventually [being] better representation. I think that understanding of that weight is really gone.
And so it looks like once again a race made all the difference for Lauren.
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