2019 Kogod Woman of the Year: Rebecca Lamis '20

Each year, Her Campus at American honors a woman in each school that represents our five pillars: concern for social engagement with the university and local communities, strong commitment to education, willingness to share her understanding with the community, drive to help other women and the dedication to being a trailblazer in her field. We sat down with Rebecca Lamis, a Junior at American University and our Kogod School of Business’ Woman of the Year. Rebecca is kind, dedicated and passionate about every endeavor she undertakes and is an active member of both American University and the local community, making her the perfect recipient for this award.  

Her Campus at American University: Where are you from originally and what brought you to AU?

Rebecca Lamis: Born in Austin, Texas, I moved to California in the 8th grade. When I was looking for schools I was looking outside of California because I wanted to try something different. I was looked at different cities and I chose AU because I love D.C. and they gave me a great scholarship.

HCAU: You’re a business major, what made you choose entrepreneurship as a concentration?

RL: I started with a business and entertainment major and wasn’t sure if I was going into the entertainment industry because I love theater but also love STEM. I am very much a self-starter and entrepreneurship is applicable to any career field I go into, which makes it ideal. 

HCAU: What are you involved in on and off-campus?

RL: On campus, I do a lot of theater work with both the Rude Mechanicals and the AU Players. I have been on the Rude Mechanicals executive board as well as a stage manager for the Crucible. I was the VP of Finance for Sigma Delta Tau and I now do a lot for recruitment and the Continuous Open Bidding committee.

Off campus, I started two companies. A few years ago, I started Fractal, which is a company that focuses on bringing theater to everyone and giving voices to underrepresented communities. I also started Asteria Entertainment last month. I am currently the only one working on it, but I am looking on developing a model that allows young adults the opportunity to perform on a higher level. The goal is to have young adults performing for young adults. I found that there are not a lot of agencies or companies for this, not just in D.C. but in general. Asteria started with bi-weekly comedy nights and has been very successful. Our goal is to branch into other colleges in D.C. and eventually branch into other cities.

HCAU: How did Asteria and Fractal come about? 

RL: Fractal came about when I met Seth Andrew during freshman year, who is a director going to Brown next year. He had the vision for the company, and I had the managerial and business experience. We’re a part of AU theater now and it developed from there as we brought in more of our peers to work with us.

Asteria started because of fractal. Initially, I wanted fractal to be an art collective as opposed to a theater collective, so this year I started to do comedy nights. The idea for the comedy nights came about because I came across a peer and thought she needed to be doing comedy. These comedy nights met with such success that I realized I could carry out the vision I had for fractal with Asteria. It has become so much more than just a talent agency and I have a very close relationship with the performers. The company has a unique model that is closest to that of Scooter Braun’s, who manages Ariana Grande and is someone I look up to. This model is really working, and we have had more people coming to the shows, almost all of them have been sold out. I am really watching for next year because that’s when this company will grow. 

HCAU: What is your dream job?

RL: I don’t really know yet, but I have a fascination with so many things – from psychology and astronomy to teaching to business – but I think the entertainment field is the right fit for me. My greatest quality is that I am very much a problem solver and I need to be in the kind of industry where I am constantly problem-solving. I would probably like to be a producer or talent manager but at the end of the day, my dream is Asteria growing and becoming something even bigger.

HCAU: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

RL: This is a funny question, probably growing these two companies, but at the end of the day it would have to be reaching out for help when I need it and getting the help I need. Freshman year of college I was diagnosed with very serious depression which has gotten so bad that realistically I probably should not be in school right now. Depression is not something we talk about often and making an active effort to find and receive the help I need has been so important. It can be tough balancing my health and growing these two companies as well as being a full-time student and I am proud to share my story and encourage everyone to get the help they need, no matter what. 

HCAU: How do you balance everything?

RL: Sometimes I don’t and it really shows. I’m someone who likes to overcommit a lot and sometimes I have to take a step back because I take on so much. Something I’ve learned over the past few years is how much I can't take on and the most important thing I’ve learned is to ask for help in whatever way I need it. It is important to know what your limits are and how much you can do and when to ask for help. Being okay with asking for help is one of the biggest things I’ve learned at AU.

HCAU: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

RL: I would hope that five years from now Asteria will have grown enough that it is my full-time job. Where I see myself and where I see Asteria goes hand in hand. I know that it will take a while to get there and for a few years I can envision balancing being a bartender and this, but I hope that it will become a new form of agency that is well known in D.C. and hopefully I will eventually be able to branch out to cities such as New York and Los Angeles. 

HCAU: What is the one piece of advice you would give to other women?

RL: I have two. The first one is don’t be afraid to ask for help. For a lot of women, there is the pressure of doing it all and it’s considered a sign of weakness to ask for help but at the end of the day if there is a benefit to you in any way, it's worth it. My second piece of advice is something that I’ve learned with the experience of starting a company, which is don’t be afraid to take a leap and go in a drastically different direction. Starting a company is not something you typically see on an undergraduate student’s resume, but it is something I love and am passionate about. My advice would be to figure out something you can do that you truly enjoy and then make it happen. 

HCAU: What is something about you that most people don’t know or expect?

RL: Most people don’t know about my battle with mental health or what I have been through the last four years. It is not something that you expect from someone that does so much and is so actively involved in their community and it just goes to show you that you don’t always know what your peers or your classmates are dealing with. Depression is the equivalent of having a broken bone and no one should have to feel ashamed of what they are going through. I am such a big advocate of mental health and a big part of life is powering through and dealing with what we are dealt with, and it is truly important to be able to have the necessary help we all need while we do so. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.

Photo Credit: Halle Jaymes