Lauren Kelly

Kelly shares her talents at LA talent agency

Written by Abigal Bates
Lauren Kelly

When Miami University alum Lauren Kelly graduated in 2011, she left behind a legacy for all fashion-loving media students by co-founding UP, Miami’s only fashion magazine on campus.

When Lauren came to Miami in 2009, she knew she wanted to major in journalism, having been greatly inspired by Atoosa Rubenstein, the former editor in chief of Seventeen magazine.

“I always knew if I did journalism it would be something in the realm of fashion or beauty,” Lauren recalled. “I wasn’t particularly interested in actual news.”

However, Lauren soon realized Miami didn’t have any publication on campus that she felt truly passionate about. Then one fateful day Lauren and her new friend, Kelly Phelan went to lunch and began discussing their love of fashion magazines. Straight after lunch, they went back to Phelan’s dorm and began ripping out pages of magazines and brainstorming ideas. Over the next few weeks they created UP, gathered sponsors, and hired a student staff.

Now, just five years after graduation, Lauren has found a career that includes her interest in fashion, entertainment and publishing as a talent agent for Forward Artists, which represents hair stylists, makeup artists and celebrities.

It all started with the creation of UP magazine, though.

Combining Kelly’s strong background in layout and graphic design with Lauren’s writing skills enabled the pair to create their “baby.”

The skills Lauren gained through Miami and UP helped her to land internships in New York City and eventually Los Angeles, where she is now an agent to Hollywood’s hairdressers and makeup artists for big name clients.

“It was such a great learning experience to suddenly be in charge of putting something together, and having to collaborate with so many different kinds of people and work out different opinions. And then to kind of try to figure out creatively the direction that we wanted to go in, and guide people in that, while also allowing them to have their own creative freedom,” said Lauren.

“It massively helped out with me gaining time management,” Lauren added, who said she spent close to anywhere between 20 and 30 hours a week on UP magazine related things, especially in the beginning.

The following semester, both Lauren and Kelly studied abroad. Lauren took part in the Paris business and International Relations Program. While she did not particularly like her business classes, she loved the art history course she took while in Paris.

“So I have been to all the really cool art museums with an art professor, and we walked around and took notes and pictures. It was hands-on, and my favorite class of my entire life.”

“Paris is the reason that I ended up with an international studies major, because it was the only thing that made sense to double in when I got back,” Lauren said, in reference to the requirement for all journalism students to pick a second major.

Lauren and Kelly being abroad also meant leaving behind the magazine for a semester.

“Kelly and I both had to learn how to let go of our baby, and let our baby grow,” said Lauren. “That was a good learning experience to let go of something that you think is just yours and learn that it’s really not; it belongs to a lot of people and everyone has a vision for it too.”

During her senior year, Lauren also worked as an editorial intern for Cincinnati magazine, commuting there three days a week.

“I seriously loved it. When I was there they let me be a part of most of their editorial staff meetings, which was amazing,” Lauren said. “After I did it, they let me write some very short things, which was fun.”

Next, Lauren spent the summer before her final semester at Miami as a fashion closet intern for Women’s Health magazine in New York City, commuting from her home in Morristown, New Jersey.

“At this point I kind of transitioned away from wanting to write as much as I just wanted to do something related to fashion,” said Lauren. “That was another fantastic experience.”

“I worked my ass off. They don’t pay you anything and you’re still busy, and a fashion closet is absolutely nuts. We worked like 50 to 60 hours a week, just folding clothes, steaming clothes, hanging clothes, packing clothes, unpacking clothes…” Lauren shared.

Lauren recalled the time she was allowed to be on set for two different photoshoots. “I learned that when you’re a fashion assistant on set you just don’t speak. No one talks to you, and you only speak when spoken to and it’s terrifying,” she laughed.

Lauren then came back to spend an extra semester at Miami to finish up before graduating. Because most of her friends had already graduated, she spent most of the time applying for jobs and writing.

“It was boring and exhausting but I applied to so many places that I got myself a PR internship,” Lauren said.

After she graduated with a bachelor’s degree. in journalism and international studies in 2011, she moved to Los Angeles to work at the PR firm where she interned.

“I just wanted to try somewhere new and be somewhere different. And professionally I still wanted fashion but I’ve always loved entertainment and celebrity,” Lauren said.

She tried free-lance fashion styling for a little bit, but ultimately did not enjoy it. “Freelancing is not my jam,” said Lauren. “I respond better to something steady and consistent.”

After about a month of living in LA, Lauren got a call from the Magnet Agency to interview to be an agent’s assistant. Since then, she worked her way up from assistant, to junior agent, to full time agent.

Today, Lauren continues her passion for style and creativity as an agent for Forward Artists in LA, a company that represents hairs stylists, makeup artists, and wardrobe styling for the entertainment, fashion and music industries. Forward Artists’ clients have worked with big names such as Cara Delevigne, Kylie Jenner, Krysten Ritter, Sarah Hyland, Heidi Klum, and many more.

“I love it, it’s very strategic, and it’s fun to live vicariously through the people that I agent. They all have interesting days with celebs and clients,” said Lauren.

Most of Forward Artist’s clients work with celebrities, helping them to prepare for press junkets, premiers, the Oscars, Golden Globes, and other events, as well as magazine or advertising shoots.

“I pitch them out to new photographers, I introduce them to people, I open doors for them,” explained Lauren.

“It’s very go-go-go and very forward moving.”

Looking back, Lauren attributes her experiences at Miami and co-founding UP as part of her success today.

“I always felt like the teachers in the journalism program were amazing. I loved working with them and collaborating with them. I always felt like they just wanted you to do your best job, and they were always open to whatever kind of story you wanted to write, and helped you figure out how you were going to make the best of it,” Lauren said.

“And it was fun too, because it was right around the time that everything started to change in the industry. It was right after the market crashed and journalism just like fell apart and magazines started folding, and everyone started to realize that you had to learn how to do like everything from video, to editing, to photography, which I felt like Miami handled really well.”

Annie-Laurie Blair, a senior clinical faculty member in journalism, was instrumental in helping the students navigate the system of applications to have a student organization and funding.”

“We were just so young. She helped us understand how things should work, and how a magazine should run. She was so involved, especially in our first year,” said Lauren.

Blair said Kelly and Lauren really had a vision for UP Magazine. “What they saw was that there was this enormous population at Miami that was really, into cutting edge fashion, and even back then in 2008 we had a lot of students who went and studies abroad, and that brought back sort of this global perspective to fashion.”

The students worked hard on the magazine in those early days, sometimes staying up all night to finish the magazine.

“She had, probably still has, that power to her personality to communicate her vision. She definitely set really high standards for every member of the staff, but she let them do what they wanted to do. She wasn’t a micromanager at all and that really helped the creative flavor of every edition,” said Blair.

As for advice to current students, Lauren thinks of her own brother who is currently a senior in college.

“I would probably tell him to apply to as many things as he can that are interesting to him, and to see what happens with it.”

Lauren also advises students to learn as much as you can about the industry, and all of its different facets.

But whether you’re interested in being an agent, news writing, fashion, entertainment or something else, “There are so many different avenues you can take with it and you owe it to yourself to explore as many parts of it as possible. It’s just takes time and effort and research,” said Lauren. “Just know that your 20s are going to be full of questions.”