Laura Osnes had been charming theater audiences across suburban Minnesota long before winning the role of “Sandy” in the 2007 television competition, Grease: You’re the One that I Want! Blessed with success and fame on the heels of her career-launching win, Laura is every bit the grounded “girl-next-door” NBC viewers fell in love with. Stealing America’s heart is about the only thing Laura has in common with her outlaw character, Bonnie Parker, but she was up for the challenge.
Siren: Tell us about the role you’re currently playing?
Laura: Right now, I’m playing Bonnie Parker in Frank Wildhorn’s new musical, “Bonnie and Clyde.” I’m typically cast as the innocent ingenue, so Bonnie’s particularly fun, because I kind of get to be the “bad girl.” She’s actually just a young waitress, who unfortunately falls desperately in love with a criminal.
Siren: Is there a role you are dying to play, but haven’t yet?
Laura: I’ve always wanted to be a Disney princess, maybe Belle or Ariel. Also, Millie Dillmount, Peggy Sawyer, Marian Paroo, Mary Poppins, or Glinda!
Siren: How do your beliefs affect your work?
Laura: It’s definitely a challenge being a Christian in this industry. My mom always says I’m like a lamb amidst lions in NYC, but I believe I’ve been called to do it. God has equipped me with the tools I need to not only survive, but be successful and effective for Him. I am constantly faced with the difficult decision of turning down roles/shows that I don’t feel morally comfortable with. I don’t want to compromise who I am and what I believe in, even if it means letting go of a particular job. I strive to set a good example and be as effective as I can when I work, both on stage and behind the scenes. Every job opportunity is different, and my husband and I purpose to find peace in each decision, whether it’s accepting a role or turning it down.
Siren: What is it like being so immersed in the performance world where Christianity isn’t always accepted?
Laura: Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes I am ridiculed for being so “sheltered” and “conservative.” To be honest, I think a lot of jaded people may be envious of that innocence, but they’re just afraid to admit it. I find that people get turned off if I force my beliefs on them… So instead, I try to be as loving and accepting as I can in the performance world. Generosity, hospitality, kindness, patience, and love go a long way. I know that I can make a heavenly impact on my cast mates based on how I act towards them. I don’t always have to be shouting Jesus’ name in their face in order for His spirit to rub off on them!
Siren: What keeps you grounded when you are flying across the country, transitioning from character to character, and missing your hubby?
Laura: My husband, Nate, is my biggest rock and supporter. Of course, my faith keeps me grounded wherever I go, but it is definitely harder right now, when I’m doing a show out-of-town. I’m away from my church, my community, my friends, and my hubby. I try to stay intentional about still getting my quiet time, playing worship music around my apartment, and Skyping with Nate as often as I can.
Siren: You were performing at La Jolla Playhouse, now you’re in Florida…when will you get to settle back into New York life?
Laura: I only worked in La Jolla for three months last year (October-December of 2009). Then, I was back in New York most of 2010 to be in “South Pacific” (January-August of 2010). And I’m only in Florida for “Bonnie & Clyde” again until December 20th. Nate and I plan to go home to Minnesota for Christmas and return to our “New York life” in January.
Siren: Lea Michele and some other Broadway performers have made the switch to television. Does that interest you?
Laura: Broadway has always been my dream, so I have to say that my first-love is musical theater. It would definitely be fun to cross-over into TV and film soon, but I think I would miss singing and dancing too much if I left the stage completely.
Siren: What people do you look to for direction or inspiration?
Laura: For me, it depends on who I’m working with in that moment. I don’t regularly study/coach with anyone in NYC, so I tend to look to the people around me to challenge and inspire me! Danny Burstein, for example, became a dear friend and creative influence to me during our run together in “South Pacific,” while Mare Winningham was like a mother to me during our La Jolla run of “Bonnie & Clyde.” I also had two wonderful directors that I worked with growing up in Minnesota who definitely guided and encouraged my love of theater: Dennis Swanson and Matthew Howe.
Siren: How do you remain humble in the face of success?
Laura: “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” -Proverbs 29:23. I try to remember that God has granted me such incredible favor and I thank Him for it all the time. I perform for His glory, not for mine. He is my audience of One. I pray that when people compliment me, it would more importantly be a compliment to Him!
On a lighter note…
Siren: If you could swap wardrobes with one celebrity, who would it be?
Laura: Haha, so many!! Maybe Taylor Swift? She always looks so cute and pretty!
Siren: What is your guilty pleasure?
Laura: Ice cream!!!!!
Siren: Three things you could not live without?
Laura: My camera, my journal, my hubby.
Siren: Who should Siren feature as their next profile of a Christian woman rocking our world?!
Laura: Marlyne Afflack!! We go to the same church in NYC and she’s on fire for God. Such a wonderful mentor spiritually and professionally — She has one heck of a television resume!