Turning the Lens

Penn State sophomore, Lauren McKee, talks about her first on-camera experience, life at Penn State, and how she’s figuring out her future, one day at a time.

Lauren McKee is a sophomore double majoring in acting and art history in Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture. Hailing from State College, Pennsylvania, McKee comes from a family of Penn Staters, beginning with her great-grandfather, William Barr, who was professor emeritus of farm management from 1936 until his retirement in 1972. While she’ll admit she doesn’t yet know where her career will take her, she’s grateful for the opportunity to represent Penn State on camera and add an acting credential to her portfolio.

A female student sitting in a chair and smiling off camera.

Lauren McKee

Lauren McKee is a sophomore at Penn State double majoring in acting and art history in the College of Arts and Architecture. 

Image: Michelle Bixby

Why did you decide to audition for the brand video?

One of my acting professors sent out information about the audition and encouraged everyone to participate. I had acted on stage before, but never in front of a camera, so when I showed up to the audition, I had no idea what I was doing. I was asked to interact with an apple, not having any idea what the concept behind the spot was; I just went with it. I was really surprised I got it.

What surprised you the most about the experience of filming the video?

The viewer never really knows what the invention in the video is, but I realized it’s not about what she makes, it’s that Penn State offers this environment that allows you to be creative.

I realized how being on camera is so different than being on stage. But once we did a few takes, I began to understand the plot. I learned so much from interacting with the director and taking instruction. He would ask me to slightly change my expression, but a small change would make a big impact. So much went into just a few seconds of filming.

"The viewer never really knows what the invention in the video is, but I realized it’s not about what she makes, it’s that Penn State offers this environment that allows you to be creative." —Lauren McKee

Back of a video camera that's filming a female student looking down at an unseen object

On-Camera Experience

Penn State sophomore and School of Theatre student, Lauren McKee, has plenty of experience acting on stage, but filming the University's brand video was her first on-camera experience. 

Image: Penn State

What was it like working with your peers and other members of the Penn State community on the video?

The experience felt personal on a deeper level. It was energizing. Everyone brought their unique stories and passion for this school.   

Now that you have your first year at Penn State in, what advice would you give to incoming and current students?

We have a saying in the School of Theatre: “trust the process.” I think it applies to so many decisions. Things can feel scary at first but begin to make sense as you go.

What’s your dream role?

My mind immediately goes to Lizzy Bennet, Pride and Prejudice.

Who would play you in a movie?

I’d say Daisy Ridley or Audrey Tautou from Amelie.

What does the future look like?

That’s a great question. I never considered film prior to doing this video, but it was fun. But really, I don’t know. I’m doing what I love and hopefully, things will eventually begin to make sense. Trust the process.