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Actress Briana Lane Talks Her Days in UCLA’s Program & Her Love for Amy Poehler (Exclusive Q&A)

If you watch television at all, you’ve probably seen Briana Lane guest star in one of your favorite shows. She most recently appeared in Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle and NCIS, and previously held roles in Young & Hungry and Switched at Birth. With a professional degree in drama, Lane has both the education and the experience to be considered a seasoned expert when it comes to all things acting. However, she celebrates the “slash slash slash” mentality and is proud to be multi-talented in acting, writing and singing.

Her Campus spoke with Lane about her college experience as an aspiring actress, her admiration for Amy Poehler and her musical aspirations for the future. 

Her Campus: You have extensive experience in TV acting and are known for your recurring roles on shows like Young & Hungry and Switched at Birth. What is it like working with so many different casts and crews? Have you kept in touch with anyone you’ve worked with over the years?

Briana Lane: It is such a small world once you start working on different productions. A certain crew will become family and [it] feels like summer camp for that month or year that you’re working on something. Those relationships solidify over that time period, so you always have this bond with whoever you work with. I’ve kept in touch with most people that I’ve worked with via Facebook and social media, and I’ve also made friends with some of my castmates and crew. The cool thing is that when you’re out there in the world working or out and about at parties, you run into these people and it feels like you’re right back where you were a few years ago on that set. It really makes the industry as a whole feel smaller and safer.

HC: If you could land a role on any television show ever aired, which would it be and why?

BL: I would say Smash, the NBC show. I would’ve loved to have been Marilyn. It just looked like such a dream shooting in New York. I was a musical theatre major, and my heart will always lie in that world, so I feel like that would’ve been a dream working on that show and with such great creators and directors and producers and writers and talent. The people they had on that show were just incredible.

HC: Who inspires you in the entertainment industry today, and why?

BL: I would say Amy Poehler. She is a writer, a creator, a producer and also an actor. She created Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy improv club in New York and now in LA. Amy Poehler just really gave back to the comedy world and has stayed really loyal to her colleagues and friends and industry. I think that’s really inspiring, and I love all the projects that she’s done. I think anyone who is able to really embody the “slash slash slash” mentality—meaning I’m an actor and a writer and a musician and a fill-in-the-blank—really exemplifies the industry right now. I think the landscape of the whole has changed, and I think that it’s an exciting time to be a part of it because I think creating your own stuff is really important, and being able to juggle multiple projects and multiple ventures at a time is essential. It’s hard to put all your eggs in one basket because our industry is so unpredictable.

HC: You attended UCLA’s School of Film, Theater and Television. What did you study in particular and was it something you always wanted to pursue?

BL: While I majored in musical theater, I actually wanted to minor in Chicano studies. I almost took enough classes to qualify for Chicano studies. I had a nanny growing up who was Latin, and Spanish was my first language in Los Angeles as a child. I’ve always had a fascination with Latin culture, specifically in Los Angeles. These Chicano studies classes really felt like home to me in learning about the Chicano movement and Mexican Americans all throughout California and the United States as a whole. Art history was also an interest of mine. I’m actually part of the UNICEF Next Generation team. It’s a group of young people who want to get involved with the charity, and we’re putting on an art party next year. I’m going to be a part of it this year. It’s great because I love art and art history, and it caters to those interests really well.

HC: What lessons did you learn during your college experience that have helped you in your career?

BL: I learned time management and how to design your own schedule that’s beneficial to you. The biggest challenge was when I left high school because everything was so structured. Every class was an hour, and then I had this activity from this hour to this hour. It was all planned for me, and in college you’re just a blank canvas. You even schedule your own classes. For me, figuring out my schedule but also having the foresight to know that my end goal was something I learned. I figured out what I wanted college to serve. Did I want it to help my career? I knew that I wanted to be an actor. Or did I just solely want it to provide a great education? I think it’s hard knowing the answer to those questions when you’re in college, but I think stopping a moment to really listen to yourself and listen to your guide, especially when you’re trying to figure out your major and what clubs or activities you should be a part of. I think this almost inward reflection is so key, and it’s key in every stage of your life, but especially in college because it’s a crucial four years that really shape the next 10.

HC: Would you recommend that a young woman looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry study her craft in a specialty program like UCLA’s?

BL: I think there are a lot of options. There are programs that offer a great BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and those are great degrees to have, but they don’t focus as much on your general education classes. For instance, I graduated from UCLA with a BA, which meant I had conservatory-esque classes paired with a very extensive general education. I was always in class. To me, this was great because I got a proper education, and it felt very thorough. I was also able to work on my craft every day, and it made for very long schedules. But if you want to be in the entertainment industry, and you want to be doing this and you’re very ambitious, I think it’s important to just dive right in and try to do it all in such a short amount of time in college. You’ll look back and be grateful that you got that degree but again, if you really know that’s what you want to do, then maybe you should do a conservatory program. On the flip side, if you want to be, for instance, a psychologist, and want that as an option, then go for it and take classes outside of college. A lot of cities offer local theaters, and theater companies offer classes to young adults.

HC: Is there anything you’d like to accomplish in terms of acting that you haven’t yet?

BL: I would love to star in an indie feature where I play the protagonist. I’d also love the opportunity to score the movie with my own music that I’m writing. And potentially, maybe the main character is a singer, as well. I’m currently in a band, and our record comes out in June. I’ve been writing a lot of music and to me, the whole score world is very fascinating right now. I think that would be a really neat opportunity to score my own feature. I’ve also been pitching a lot of comedy shows, so a dream of mine would be to get a single-camera comedy show picked up by a network. I’d star in it, and it’d be the next 10 years of my life!

Emily Schmidt

Stanford '20

Emily Schmidt is a junior at Stanford University, studying English and Spanish. Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, she quickly fell in love with the Californian sunshine and warm winter temperatures. Emily writes a hodgepodge of pieces from satiric articles for The Stanford Daily to free-verse poetry to historical fiction. Just like her writing repertoire, her collection of hobbies are widely scattered from speed-crocheting to Irish dancing to practicing calligraphy. When she is not writing or reading, Emily can also be found jamming out to Phil Collins or watching her favorite film, 'Belle.'
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