Laura Halperin ’97 dreamed of spending her life in front of the camera as an actress. She never imagined that she would find her calling behind the camera instead.
Before Halperin moved to Los Angeles, she had her sights set on the North.
“It’s kind of funny,” Halperin said. “I really wanted to go to school up in the North East, but my family moved to Florida and wanted me to go to school within 12 hours distance. My best friend applied to Auburn and when I went to visit I fell in love.”
Her move to Auburn led to meeting people from different walks of life and a bit of culture shock.
“Walking across campus was an experience in itself,” Halperin said. “It was so different than what I was used to. A lot of people go to Auburn because it’s in their family and a type of natural extension, but to me it was a foreign land.”
Halperin majored in theatre and recalls memories from the many theatre performances that she participated in while at Auburn as well as the cultural experiences she witnessed at Auburn football games.
“Being a theatre major didn’t directly lead to my career,” Halperin said. “I was very single minded in college about what I wanted to do and didn’t realize that until I was in Los Angeles. I realized storytelling is storytelling whether you’re on stage or pressing buttons.”
Halperin moved to Los Angeles after graduating and worked as a waitress for two years. She continued to go on countless auditions when her brother gave her a call. He was working in Los Angeles as a producer and asked if she wanted a job as a writer’s assistant.
“I had no idea what a writer’s assistant even did,” Halperin said. “My brother told me that I would figure it out, but he wasn’t terribly specific. I had a rough day of waiting tables and said I would give it a shot.”
Halperin wrote for that show, which spun out in to other shows. She began working on Discovery Health’s “Medical Diary” as the director of research. She looked up information on patients, doctors and special illnesses for the show’s episodes. She freelanced while working on a before and after plastic surgery show, a documentary on motorcycle women, “Junkyard Wars” for TLC and “Celebrity Fit Club” for VH1.
After working in TV for a few years, Halperin interviewed for a job of a lifetime.
“I was a huge fan of the show ‘Bridezillas,’ Halperin said. “It’s the show I would have in the background when I was cleaning and I would just get sucked in. It’s rare in my line of work when you’re low on the totem pole to be able to choose what shows you work on and I never thought I would get the job.”
Halperin did get the job and began working on season three. She worked her way up from Senior Story Producer to Executive Producer and recorded her own voice as a voice over for the last season.
“I was mostly removed from the brides and fortunately for me I didn’t have to go to all the shoots,” Halperin said. “I would chat with them on the phone and when you’re dealing with cast members of these shows with strong personalities it gets tricky.”
Halperin spent her days working on “Bridezillas” watching cuts from the shows and watching scripts with actual footage. She would them give her notes back and work with producers to craft concise and compelling stories.
“Real life is already confusing enough and reality TV is hard to boil down to bite-sized nibbles for everyone to digest,” Halperin said.
After “Brideszillas” came to an end, Halperin began, and is currently, working on “Raising Asia” and “Abby’s Studio Rescue,” both spin-offs of the popular reality show, “Dance Moms.” She had already produced a reunion episode of the show before handed the opportunity to produce the spin-offs.
The shows are available to watch on the Lifetime channel and “Bridezillas” is available on Netflix.
To Halperin, her job reminds her of when she worked in the theatre and was able to move people in the audience to feel something. She tries to carry that over into every aspect of shows she produces for TV.
“It’s that moment when you sit back and look at what you created and realize that random idea you had is now magical and extraordinary,” Halperin said. “You create something and real life unfolds in some amazing way. It’s these great stories and great moments that make people actually feel something.”
It’s those moments that make Halperin love what she does.