O.C. Native and OCSA Alumna Lauren Lim Jackson

Jackson returns to her old stomping grounds, in more ways than one, after a successful career on Broadway.
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

After a few years at Harvard, Jackson wanted to quit and pursue her Broadway dreams. Her father nixed that plan but agreed that once she graduated, she could do what she wanted. With her degree in hand, she moved to New York and spent nearly 15 years performing in hit shows such as “Memphis,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Motown,” and “Pretty Woman,” as well as acting for film and TV. She also got married and had a baby. “When I had my daughter, we thought, ‘How long do we want to stay in New York?’ It’s horrible raising a toddler in New York City unless you’re a millionaire. Carrying strollers up and down icy stairwells, plus the subway, and schooling is so expensive. We made the decision it’s time to move back to California.”

Jackson grew up in Lake Forest and found her love for performing early. “I have an older sister, and I did whatever she did. She was in ballet class, so I wanted to be in ballet class. I started dancing at 3; I’ve been professionally dancing and working since the age of 6. I started choreographing at OCSA. Every year, they do a choreography showcase. Rarely would freshmen be able to choreograph, but my piece got chosen.”

After she came back to Orange County last summer, OCSA leaders invited her to host the season premiere and be a guest mentor. When the director of musical theatre took another job, Jackson seemed the logical choice to take over. “That job literally fell out of the sky in the most magical way possible. … I wrote my personal statement for college about the importance of arts education. I’d always planned and dreamed of coming back to OCSA at some point. I’m now ready to share the knowledge I’ve accrued with the next generation. They’re the ones who are going to take the torch and keep running, and I want to give them a well-lit torch.”

“In any off time, we have our feet in the sand. The ocean is our sanctuary; we didn’t get to do stuff like that in New York.”

She says she feels right at home after many years away. “The energy has not changed. The best part about OCSA, it’s a community where all are welcome. You’re different; that’s cool. If you’re exploring who you want to be in life, you are welcome. That culture has maintained. What’s really fun is that there are still teachers who were there when I was there. Our new principal, I was one of his first students. He was a mentor. To see him grow as an educator and administrator and to work alongside him is the best thing ever.”

Being actors, Jackson and her husband, Vince Oddo, had originally planned to move to L.A. After spending time with her parents in Lake Forest during the pandemic, they decided to stay here. “My family is still here, and it’s so important for my daughter to spend time with her grandparents. My sister has a daughter, and we’ve been podded together. Being in Orange County is a game changer for us. The innate quality of life—the sunshine, family, Disneyland, the beaches—it’s such a gift. We want to focus on enjoying that gift.”

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

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