***THZ EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ‘Paternity Court’ Judge Lauren Lake

Photo Credit: Lauren Lake's Paternity Court"/Orion Television and MGM Company

Photo Credit: Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court”/Orion Television and MGM Company

Lauren Lake is a successful lawyer, author, entrepreneur, interior designer, singer, legal/relationship/life consultant, motivational speaker, and television host. She has become a fan favorite and graces our television screens with her hit show Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court. TheHotZone had the opportunity to speak with Lake about her new endeavors such as another book she’s working on, her experience in the music industry, and what’s in stored for the future of Paternity Court.

CN: You wear many hats. You’re a lawyer, television host, an author, motivational speaker, and designer. How do you balance all of it and still manage to be a wonderful wife and mother?

LL: I always say you can do it all and you can do it all well. You just may not be able to do it all at the same time. I think that’s what people don’t understand and in my life I’ve lived out so many seasons. As an entrepreneur there are some season where certain parts of my career are thriving and then I have to lay to rest other things I most certainly enjoy. When I did the six seasons of my design show on HGTV it was so time consuming at that time I had to put the practice of law on hold for a minute. I couldn’t take any new cases or clients because I was engrossed in that show. Now that I’m back to law and working as the judge of Paternity Court I’m not able to do as many design projects as I would like. It’s just a hobby I do in my own home. So even though I enjoyed those passions in my life I cant necessarily do it all at the same time. I think it’s all about appreciating and really living in the moment and different seasons of your life. Finding balance is learning to set the right boundaries. Understanding when its family time, and it’s difficult for me just like everyone else. I have to put my phone away, get down on the floor with my son and say, “We’re building leggos now” (laughs). I’m not returning emails. I’m not returning calls. Whatever call I miss, is just the call I miss. I have to call them later. Carving out time to work out and go on a date with my husband. We set a standard Friday evening date that we don’t break unless it’s absolutely necessary. If we do, we make up for it. We make it a priority to spend time together as a couple.

CN: You are the founder of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Can you tell us about the organization and what inspired you to create it?

LL: I co-founded it back in 2007 along with Valeisha Butterfield, Kristi Henderson, and Sabrina Thompson. We felt there was a need to have an organization that connected young women and professional women in entertainment. Help connect them to their dreams, help them realize their potential and understand they have a light and responsibility to pursue their passion. To help give them internships, the knowledge, and experience. So we founded WEEN Academy, which we have each year. It’s a six week course in which we have professors come in each day from different walks of life in the industry. From publicity to the executive side, to management, makeup, stylists, and writers. They come in and share their experience in the industry. Many of our young people say “I want to work in the entertainment industry”. They really don’t know what that means. They think it’s just “I’m going to be a TV host” but there are so many other jobs besides that. Nothing wrong with being a TV host, I’m a TV host (laughs) but there are other jobs. There are entertainment lawyers, producers, directors, writers, show runners. We just want to expose them to the various types of work so it can just increase the capacity of what they dream.

For many years I paved my way through law school by working as a professional vocalist. I’ve sang professionally with many acts. I’ve worked with Dr.Dre and sang background for Diddy and Mary J. Blige. I was on Jay Z’s first Blueprint album. It’s a passion of mine, a love of mine. I used my passion and skills to provide. It helped me earn money while I put myself through law school.

CN: You’re first book “Girl Let Me Tell You”  did very well and I’m sure your fans will be thrilled to know that you’re currently working on another book. Can you tell  us about it?

LL: Sure. I’m working on my new book called “Lauren Lake’s 100 Laws of Living”. On my show Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, I try to give advice for people’s lives. How to empower yourself with the law, how to begin again when you think you’ve made the biggest mistake, and how to live in your truth. An authentic life. More importantly how to move forward. I’m able to give my nuggets of advice and the mantra’s I live by. People have requested I write them down and give more. They’re my “100 Laws of Living”. It’s not how I’m telling anyone how they should live but this is what I live by.

CN: What do you hope the readers will gain from reading “Lauren Lake’s 100 Laws of Living” ?

LL: I hope that they will understand that in life we make our own rules, we make our own laws. There’s a way to set up boundaries. We make our own inspirations. You have to inspire yourself. I wrote a song called “Encourage Yourself” because when noone else wants to encourage you, or when people can’t find the capacity to appreciate your dream, you can do that for yourself. That’s what I’m hoping readers will gain from this book. Learning how to encourage yourself and hopefully the readers will come up with their own laws of living.

Photo Credit: Lauren Lake's Paternity Court"/Orion Television and MGM Company

Photo Credit: Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court”/Orion Television and MGM Company

CN: How does it feel to know that Paternity Court, which is now called Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, is such a huge success ?

LL: I’m proud of this show. I was so honored when the producer of the show, David Armour, contacted me and said he wanted me to be the judge of the show. He thought I was the perfect person because not only do I have the legal knowledge, I also have the passion that he desired. He wanted that facet of the show where you really try to help people and overcome obstacles. He had watched my work on Ricki Lake, Dr. Phil, The View and he was excited to have me and I was just as excited. It was a combination of everything I had ever done. It’s entertainment because it’s TV and it’s empowerment because it’s helping people say “You know what? This is it! I’m done lying, I’m done  hiding, I’m done with this dysfunction. I’m going to stand in this courtroom, tell my truth, and be able to move forward!” Being able to help usher people to that next level of living is an honor for me. I call the show my own little ministry because it allows me to give my gift everyday to people I feel can benefit from this. The gift of compassion, understanding, empathy, and tough love. Sometimes I have to be critical. Sometimes I have to tell them what they don’t want to hear but they need to hear it. Ultimately they know it comes from a place of love and I get to share my life experience. Most importantly I get to provide them with the scientific evidence. Help empower them with the law surrounding their situation so they can be better. I love my job. I can’t wait to go back to work now (laughs). The other day I said to the creator of the show “I had Christmas, I had holidays, I’m ready to go back to work”.

CN: Many of the stories and guests on the show are very emotional, especially when they receive a paternity result that they weren’t prepared for or hoping for? What is your advice to help them get through that rough period for when they leave the show and return home?

LL: Our life, our truth, who we are, the circumstances we deal with as people, are gifts to us and we don’t often come wrapped in a Tiffany’s box with a bow. Meaning we’re not that perfect little gift you unwrap and everything’s great. Sometimes it’s a process. Sometimes it takes dialogue to get through. Sometimes we’re fearful or even feel regret or resentment. The moment that we get the results in the courtroom a lot of times it’s not what people want to hear and they’re not happy. I tell them, when they go home to just take a moment to process it all before they let the anger creep up. Just take that moment to understand time will heal the wounds. Ultimately we’re better off knowing the truth. We want to be able to accept the truth in our lives so we can grow ourselves based upon the truth and not a lie. It’s that ‘glass half empty half full’ theory. If we sat down and wrote 5 things we could be depressed about for the rest of the day well I’m sure we can easily write down those things, but we can also write down 5 things we should be happy about. You have to make that choice.

CN: What is your response to those who compare your show to Maury?

LL: I always say if they compare it to Maury then they haven’t watched our show. It’s completely different. Maury does paternity his way and we do it our way. The creator of the show [Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court] did this because he wanted to see paternity handled responsibly and also be able to provide the legal component and the inspirational component that he thinks it deserves. More families than we think are dealing with paternity issues. We can act like it’s just a problem that happens to “those people”. It’s not about “those people” it’s about all people. It’s about so many type of families; celebrities included. We’re addressing an issue in a positive way so people will be able to talk about it and stop living in denial. That’s why we do what we do. Many people have come up to me and said “Hey we have a paternity issue in our family” or “Hey I’ve been ashamed to talk about this but after watching your show I feel I’m able to talk about it”.

CN: Of course, I have to ask the million dollar question. Do you know the results of paternity tests prior to the reveal on the show?

LL: Never ever! It’s real people. Real drama. I don’t know the results. I am literally asking the questions I need to know because I have no idea what the results are. I find out right along with the people.

CN: Is there ever a time when you feel emotional or shocked about the paternity results?

LL: Yes. There are many times I walk off and go to my chambers and I’m just fanning myself with my file folders. Trying not to burst into tears so I don’t have to mess-up my makeup and we have to shut down production (laughs). One time I was so angry I cried my eyelash off. I was so mad at these parents and how they were ignoring the child in the case. I just felt like noone was thinking about this child. They were arguing about nonsense and it made me soo angry. The child was this beautiful little boy and he was my son’s age. I addressed his mother in my chambers afterwards and I said “Ya’ll made me so angry today”. There’s been times, even in this past season, when I broke down on the bench. Which I try not to do because I want this moment to be about the families. So I really try to contain my emotion and handle theirs. This was such a story of forgiveness and a man that had been so evil to children, and thought that he was their father. When he realized the daughter he thought was his, wasn’t, he just broke down and the children kind of came to comfort him. It was a story of forgiveness and a man feeling broken. Despite the hurt he had caused to others they had the capacity to forgive him and start over again. I honestly could not hold back tears. I was just so proud of these young people. I’m really overall so proud of that family. They leaped towards hope. They took that leap of faith.

CN: What advice can you give to single mothers who are in a situation where the father of their child does not want to be involved in their child’s life?

LL: You can’t force a father to be involved. You can force him to pay child support but you can’t force him to show up for visitation. The first thing I would say is put your child first. If there’s anything you’re doing that’s preventing him from wanting to come around, and sometimes it’s us [women]. We have to be honest. We may be creating a contingent situation. Maybe things didn’t go well in the relationship. Maybe there was a betrayal. Whatever it was make sure we’re not creating an energy that would keep the father away from the child. Try to keep our emotions in check. Give him that opportunity. Don’t be afraid to reach out to him. It isn’t about you. You’re not trying to get back together with him. You don’t care if he has a new girlfriend. You don’t even need to talk about all of that. you need to check yourself first and approach it in that way and say “I really would like you to be a part of our child’s life and I really would like to meet you half way on that. What would be feasible for you? Saturday afternoon?” Try to schedule a visitation. Try to include him in birthday parties and holidays. Ultimately it’s for your child and they’re going to appreciate you for it.

Lauren Lake's Paternity Court"/Orion Television and MGM Company

Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court”/Orion Television and MGM Company

CN: What is in stored for the future of Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court?

LL: We are hoping to get started on Season 3 soon and still have more families. After our first season, we had over 4,000 submissions from families wanting to come on the show. They wanted to get help and get the answers they need. We listen to our viewers and we heard that the viewers like the follow-ups with our families. So we will be doing more of that. We’re also going to listen and take heed to our viewers that say they love to listen to the support and counseling that I give in my chambers. We will do more of that. We’re going to continue to handle a sensitive subject matter with the respect that it deserves. [We will] continue to put the chlid first. That’s what we’re all about. Ultimately we’re a show that’s about families. We’re about relationships, about children, protecting children, and more importantly showing people that your biggest mistake doesn’t have to define you. It can refine you. I say that a lot on the show and I mean it. You can take the biggest mistake of your life and you still have the opportunity to look in the mirror and say ‘I have to get up and do this again and do it the right way. I can recover from this. I can be better from this’. As parents when we do that, we teach our children how to do that. That’s one of the most important lessons they can learn.

It’s important for us to show that fatherhood and paternity are important and we don’t take our fathers for granted. We don’t want them to feel like we do. Lots of times we say on the show, “should it be called paternity court or maternity court?”, and we laugh. Sometimes after the show you realize it’s the woman that did all of the lying and some people think our show is about daddy bashing. It has nothing to do with that. It’s about uplifting fathers, helping fathers be better fathers and mothers be better mothers. Helping them understand that sexual irresponsibility leads to chaos. Knowing the truth and being sexually responsible are important lessons.

Watch Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court Monday through Friday. Find your local listing for your area at http://www.paternitycourt.tv/

To stay informed on upcoming shows and Lake’s special TV appearances on your favorite talk shows, visit the official PATERNITY COURT WITH LAUREN LAKE Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/PaternityCourt, follow on Twitter @PaternityCourt, using the hashtag #PaternityCourt, as well as on Instagram, @PaternityCourtTV.

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