Lauren London Looks Back at Her Most Iconic Roles

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Welcome to Look Back At It, a monthly column where some of the most iconic Black actresses in Hollywood reminisce and reflect on the roles that made them stars. For this month’s installment, Lauren London breaks down her career—from ATL and This Christmas to her most recent Netflix film, You People.


The first film that made an impression on Lauren London might surprise you. “Funny Girl,” she says, “was a really big movie for me. I watched that growing up and said, ‘I want to act.’” Though she hasn’t starred in a musical of her own (“If I could sing, I absolutely would.”), London has certainly accomplished her acting dream.

Her first feature, which premiered in 2006, was the coming-of-age film ATL, a movie that she describes as completely life-changing. From there, she went on to star in the holiday classic This Christmas, the raunchy teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper, and the television dramas The Game and Games People Play. When speaking about acting, London sees it as more than just a job. “If you’re watching me, I don’t take that in vain,” she explains. “Being on someone’s television screen is a responsibility. I want to inspire, encourage, and motivate [my audience].”

Below, London takes us through her most iconic roles to share the lessons she’s learned, memories from set, and the divine friends she’s met along the way.

New New in ATL (2006)

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“This was completely life-changing. ATL was my first film and it was possibly one of my biggest learning lessons. I always attribute this experience to a college experience because I didn’t go to college. All of the things I assume you learn in college about yourself are what I learned on this movie. And I guess it is a little surprising [that the movie is still so popular] because when you do something you don’t really know how it’s gonna be received. You just let it go. But I’m so blessed that I was part of this project and that people still relate to it and love it. This movie is so nostalgic, too. I was only 20 years old. I was a baby. I’m extremely grateful that it’s part of my life’s work.”

Melanie in This Christmas (2007)

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This Christmas (2007) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

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“This might be my favorite movie of mine. I love This Christmas. I learned so much from working with Loretta [Devine] and Regina [King]. This was such a great cast experience. I will say though, it was really hard having to wear that same outfit for a whole month, but it was a lot of fun.”

Cammy in I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009)

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I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009 Trailer) Official

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“The director of this movie, Chris Columbus, directed Home Alone and the first Harry Potter, so working with him was a dream. And I remember it being really, really cold in Vancouver. Shooting a summer movie in the winter was hard. But this movie is very underrated. I forget I did this one, if I’m being honest, so thank you for bringing this back. I gotta watch this one again.”

Sheree in Baggage Claim (2013)

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Baggage Claim Official Trailer #1 (2013) – Paula Patton, Taye Diggs Movie HD

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“I made a friend on this movie—Jill Scott. That’s my girl. This was also a fun movie to do. And I got to work with the legendary Paula Patton. Come on now! I love me some Paula.”

Keira in The Game (2013-2015)

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#TheGameBET returns March 4, 2014

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The Game was a little bit of a challenge because Jay Ellis and I were coming in as newcomers. But this was also interesting because I used to go to Wendy Raquel Robinson’s acting studio when I was younger and I was one of her students. So this was a full-circle moment.”

Ginger in The Perfect Match (2016)

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The Perfect Match Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Donald Faison, Paula Patton Movie HD

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“I loved doing this one because I worked with my friends. Cassie and I started out together so we always love coming back and working with each other.”

Vanessa in Games People Play (2019-2021)

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Games People Play Season 1 Full Episode 1

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“This was a sweet cast. I got to work with Jackie Long [her co-star in ATL] again. You know, acting is tough because it’s full of rejection, so it is a blessing when you get on a set and you can become family.”

Pam in Without Remorse (2021)

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Without Remorse – Official Trailer | Prime Video

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“Oh my god, girl, you’re taking me back. This was an awesome opportunity. I was very cloudy during this. I went to Germany in the midst of grieving and mourning. I’m very grateful to Michael [B. Jordan, who starred in and produced the film] for reaching out to me about this. I’m so happy I did it. This project was a big blessing and a good, safe way to get back into work.”

Amira in You People (2022)

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You People | feat. Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill | Official Trailer | Netflix

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“This one was a beautiful opportunity because I got to witness such masters at their craft. I just watched and took in all of the greatness that was around me. I soaked it all up. Eddie Murphy is a legend, okay? To be that close to such a master at what he does was a blessing. I’m so grateful to Kenya [Barris] for calling me about this and to Jonah Hill who’s a divine friend of mine.”

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Juliana Ukiomogbe

Juliana Ukiomogbe is the Assistant Editor at ELLE. Her work has previously appeared in Interview, i-D, Teen Vogue, Nylon, and more.  

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