Alumna of the Month
As director of entertainment promotions at Hearst Magazines in New York City, Lauren Ruotolo ’00 is responsible for developing strategic partnerships with television and cable networks, as well as music labels and movie studios. Lauren’s success has been hard-won. Born with a rare genetic disorder known as McCune-Albright Syndrome, Lauren stands 4 feet 2 inches tall. Throughout her life, Lauren has met this challenge with determination, faith, bravery, and love from her family and friends.
Lauren grabbed life by the horns and used her intelligence, sense of humor, and engaging personality to drive her to succeed. She recently helped produce E! Entertainment Television's Style Network show Running in Heels, which focuses on the inner workings of Marie Claire fashion magazine. She is currently working on three one-hour specials with Scripps Networks for Esquire, The Food Network, and Good Housekeeping magazine. Lauren joined Hearst Magazines from TV Guide Magazine, where she was director of consumer marketing and promotions. Lauren is also credited with creating the first American newsstand promotion with a CD on the cover featuring the iconic Elvis Presley.
Lauren’s first-person essay "Get Shorty" shared her philosophies about living with McCune-Albright Syndrome. The essay was published in Marie Claire magazine in 2009, and became one of the most responded to articles in Marie Claire’s history. Lauren recently published her first book titled Unstoppable in Stilettos — A Girl’s Guide to Living Tall in a Small World. In this book she discusses her struggles and achievements growing up as a disabled person. Lauren also offers the reader pieces of advice, known as “Lauren’s Lessons,” which focus on concepts such as achieving everything you want, even when life gives you lemons. Lauren has spent the last 34 years of her life viewing the world from a unique angle — facing upward. Lauren’s perspective of the world can be compared to her outlook on life, that every day is an opportunity to achieve excellence and that a positive perspective can lead to greatness. It is this mentality that has enabled Lauren to overcome obstacles and thrive. Lauren has avoided the label of “disabled” through uniquely discovering who she really is, and using her natural talents to succeed in the entertainment industry. Lauren epitomizes determination and commitment and serves as a role model for her peers, as well as for current Hofstra students.
Lauren has been interviewed on many nationally syndicated television shows The Nate Berkus Show and The Wendy Williams Show. She has been interviewed on many local news broadcasts to promote her message of empowerment. Lauren is currently on the advisory board of Glamour Gals and Love Our Children USA, and is an active member of the New York chapter of Women in Communications, as well as Step Up for Women. She currently lives in New York City with her boyfriend Nelson. You can visit Lauren on Facebook or follow her on Twitter (laurenjaenyc).
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My favorite class at Hofstra was Introduction to Public Relations and Marketing, as I learned how to write a press release, which really helped me in my first job. During my first week in the industry, my boss asked me to write a press release for The Muppets. When I submitted the press release, he was impressed, and perplexed, that I knew how to structure one. He later confided in me that he used the press release as a test to see if I was the proper fit for the job. Hofstra prepared me for the workplace setting and taught me independence, and it gave me the opportunity to foster new friendships that will last a lifetime.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after graduating from Hofstra was with an entertainment public relations firm called Markham/Novell, which represented the Jim Henson Company. In the year and a half that I worked there, I learned everything; I now refer to it as getting my master’s in public relations. It taught me client and press relations, office conduct, how to think strategically on my feet, plus two of the greatest lessons: how to impress your boss and what it takes to be successful in the world of entertainment.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
My field of specialty is entertainment marketing, public relations and partnerships. I realized that I wanted to be in the industry when I was 16 years old. While at a concert at Jones Beach headlined by Toad the Wet Sprocket, all I could think about was the backstage environment. After that show, I dedicated my life to working behind the scenes in entertainment and applied for my first internship at WDRE 92.7 where I worked during my senior year in high school.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Hofstra gave me the opportunity to grow into the woman I wanted to be, as well as the insight to explore my professional goals. Overall Hofstra offered me the opportunity to discover all that life has to offer, both personally and professionally.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
I would tell students to explore every opportunity given to them, because you never know what can happen. Never reject anything that could offer you direction in life, and do not fear taking chances. The world is changing, with so much information at your fingertips like iPads, smart phones, and the Internet, but it is important to not feel entitled in life. You should never say no to your professor or boss. You can offer your opinion, but always try to understand the perspectives of others, such as a boss or professor, as these people have been in the business longer than you and can actually teach you something invaluable in life.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What has been the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
I am not sure I have achieved my most rewarding experience. I’m excited every time a deal comes to fruition; however, if I had to pick one experience, it would be the opportunity that being in publishing and entertainment gave to publish my memoir, Unstoppable in Stilettos.
How does working for a magazine compare to the way it is portrayed on TV and film?
That’s a funny question and something I get asked about all the time. I would say its portrayal on TV and film is not accurate. Working at a magazine might seem glitzy and fabulous, and you do get to attend and possibly host great events, go to photo shoots, be on television. Despite these positives, when you are in the office, it’s very hard work and everyone is at their desks writing, speaking on the phone or creating layouts. We are constantly on deadline and work late hours to make sure we are reaching our readers in an educated and cultural way each month. Plus, what I find to be the biggest misconception is that people don’t eat. Trust me there is food everywhere, especially chocolate and cupcakes!
What is your advice to people seeking to overcome obstacles in the workplace?
My advice to people for overcoming obstacles not only in the workplace but in every facet of your life is to communicate with others. If you’re feeling a certain way, tell people and see how you can work it out. You spend a majority of your life in the office. Overall there are different levels of people in the workplace, and sometimes it could be nerve-racking; however, we are all human and have the same insecurities and emotions. At one point or another, even your CEO has had to overcome issues at work.