Ricki's Nine Lives (In This Business)
Whether she is keynoting, hosting or participating in a lively panel, Ricki Lake is honest, direct, and down-to-earth. From her unforgettable film debut as Tracy Turnblad in the John Waters classic Hairspray, to her years hosting her own popular daily talk show and now her activism on behalf of women and families, her legions of fans have been right there with her, rooting for her every step of the way. From her challenges with weight loss to coming into her own in her 40’s and raising a family while balancing a thriving career, Ricki’s story is one millions of people can relate to. Of course all of Ricki’s presentations include lots of lively Q&A, making for a thoughtful, fun and memorable experience.
Ricki Lake has managed to successfully reinvent herself at every stage of her career, always connecting with her audience through her talent and endearing spirit. As “Tracy Turnblad,” the zaftig heroine of the original John Waters’ film Hairspray, Lake made an acting debut that positioned her an “entertainer to watch” in Hollywood. Later, with a surprise turn as a talk show host, she met with unprecedented success and earned her place as a pop culture icon whose voice has remained relevant and relatable for nearly two decades.
Her latest role – surprisingly, that of an independent filmmaker, family advocate and author – has kept her uniquely charming perspective firmly in the public’s consciousness. But, not one to forget her roots, Lake also continues to put her creative energy into all entertainment mediums, continuing her career as an actress in film and television. In 2007, Lake executive produced the critically acclaimed documentary The Business Of Being Born. The film, which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, examined natural childbirth in the U.S. and studied the high rate of medical interventions in low-risk pregnancies. Since the film’s theatrical and DVD releases, the project has generated a grassroots movement, encouraging many parents-to-be to consider natural and homebirths rather than popular hospital births. In May 2009, Lake and the director of The Business of Being Born, Abby Epstein, released their first book, Your Best Birth. The guide has proven to be an invaluable tool for expecting parents, designed to educate families about their birthing options.
In addition to her work on the book, Lake has become an integral figure in the birthing community. She was on the Board of the New Space for Women’s Health in New York City — a non-profit organization that until recently was scheduled to build a natural, free-standing birthing center in Manhattan, where presently none exists. Additionally, she has traveled tirelessly around the United States, England and Australia to discuss the state of the birthing “industry” in the United States in an effort to demonstrate how all parents-to-be can benefit from taking a more active role in their birth experiences.
Lake has never abandoned the acting career that captured the attention of moviegoers everywhere. At 18, she made her film debut in Hairspray, earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress. She later went on to star in John Waters’ Cry Baby opposite Johnny Depp and Serial Mom alongside Kathleen Turner. Other notable appearances include the contemporary classic Working Girl, the acclaimed drama Last Exit To Brooklyn, the romantic comedy Mrs. Winterbourne opposite Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser, Where The Day Takes You opposite Dermot Mulroney and John Waters’ Cecil B. Demented. She also starred in the CBS film Baby Cakes and the beloved television drama series China Beach. Lake also had a recurring role on the CBS hit comedy The King Of Queens. Lake co-executive produced and co-starred in the Hallmark Hall of Fame film Loving Leah, featuring Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Academy Award-winner Mercedes Ruehl.
Prior to her recent advocacy work on behalf of women and children across the world, Lake entered the living rooms of millions of television viewers with her daily talk show, Ricki Lake. The show — which premiered in the fall of 1993 among talk show powerhouses The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Jenny Jones Show and Donahue — became an instant hit by appealing to a younger demographic with youth-centric topics such as dating, fashion makeovers, weight loss, etc. Over the course of the show, Lake received many honors and accolades both nationally and internationally, including a Daytime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Talk Show Host” and Sweden’s Aftonbladet TV Prize for “Best Foreign TV Personality,”among others. As a producer, Lake was instrumental in ensuring that the show continued to appeal to its committed viewers and continued to grow with its audience. After 11 successful seasons, Ricki Lake wrapped in 2005, ultimately paving the way for today’s hit talk shows.
Ricki Lake continues to air in countries around the world, a testament to the global appeal and timelessness of the host’s one-of-a-kind style and sensibility.