After earning a degree in advertising art design, Laura Roeper found her way into photography as a prop stylist, then as a studio manager.
She eventually gained years of experience as an in-house art producer in the advertising industry before launching an extensive freelance career working with photographers as well as agencies.
Seeking more creativity, she found her way into television / film as a member of the art department on various projects. Currently, she is the assistant propmaster on the hit television show Empire.
A die-hard Southsider, Laura was not aware that there was another baseball team in Chicago besides the White Sox until she was in about third grade.
“EMPIRE” SEASON 4 SNEAK PEEK
How did you get into the business? For me going into the television/film industry was an organic transition after spending 13 years in advertising.
I worked mainly as an art producer in the ad world, then went into freelance producing for ad agencies.
This was all photo-based, eventually getting into video. I felt the jobs were getting repetitive and while producing has it’s good side, I am a fine artist and really wanted to do something more hands on and creative. I ran into one of my old stylists and she mentioned union work. I went the old fashioned route, applying and calling the union office every week. My current boss on Empire hired me for Betrayal and I got my union card after a time.
I work art department, specifically props right now.
What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? I have always worked in male dominated fields. I am a bit outspoken and have been able to compete when necessary regardless of gender. I feel the biggest obstacle has been being labeled as “tough, too independent, cold etc.” because I get the job done as needed. Why the labels then? It is not acceptable and men in the same job are then labeled as go getters. I hate this and hope it changes soon. That being said, I am lucky enough to work with a fantastic group of men currently who 100% support me! Shout out to the Empire Prop Dept.!
Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are a woman? The wonderful compliments I get from other moms, who in finding out I raised my son as a single Mom, have expressed such admiration!
Work you are most proud of? Being propmaster on Southside with You, a smaller film about Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date. It was an amazing experience. I loved the writing and the finished product!! PLEASE watch if you have not already!
How do you describe the most significant #metoo moment of your life? I am so blessed not to have had a horrific experience like the women we have now all heard about. I support them in any way I can. But- refer to the “labeling” issue above. Being a “type” as a strong outspoken woman is bullshit.
How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? In my union, equal pay no matter what gender! It was not always like that and in the ad world is still not true. This needs to end.
Trapped on an island what essentials must you have? My brother’s dog Jax, (we share custody ☺), books, music and UGH my stupid iPhone — but on an island it would not have service so I can let it go!
If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? I always say, “Do not get an art degree!” Common joke as it is very hard to make a living, however I have been lucky enough to keep art in my career. Honestly, now I would say slow down in all aspects, and try to enjoy life more and work less.
If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? Currently it would be Michelle Obama. Just to see what she is up to and you know, hang out!
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