In 2012, Laura Spencer landed the part of Jane Bennet in the web series “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” — a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice.” The multi-platform series quickly became a viral success and, for many YouTube creators, a shining example of the internet’s capability to create engaging, well made content.
Though it was her big YouTube break, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” was not Laura’s first time working on a web series. In early 2012, Laura was cast as Vanessa, a hilariously bold artist not afraid to speak her mind to her complicated best friend in the WIGS original series “Jan” and “Vanessa and Jan.” The WIGS channel has made a name for itself on YouTube for its high production drama series, and has worked with big name stars such as Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Julia Stiles and America Ferrera.
The 15 episodes of Spencer’s web series “Jan” has been condensed into three, 45-minute episodes, and for the first time, has been made available on Hulu. Chatting with NMR in between auditions, Spencer talked about life after “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” her thoughts on web content being a contender with traditional media, and future plans for Vanessa on the WIGS channel.
Moving forward from “The Lizzie Bennet” Diaries,” how has it been for you since the show wrapped up?
Laura Spencer: It’s been interesting. The Kickstarter was something that none of us thought was even going to happen, and then when it happened, and then it happened so crazily, like the fan response to our show has always been pretty remarkable, but that was such evidence that we have the most loyal fans out there that are just absolutely, 100 percent supportive, and the putting together of the bonus material for the DVDs has been fun to do for them. We did a lot of stuff so the DVDs are going to be well worth the wait, and well worth everyone donating for that or purchasing them or whatever, so that’s been sort of what we’ve been doing as well as doing panels and just kind of reflecting on the year — especially the four girls who were there from the beginning, including myself. We really had such an arc with this whole process. We never, ever thought that it would become what it did, so it’s kind of unreal to look back at the last year and see how far the show has come and how many new members we have on the team. And yeah, I think everyone is proud of their work looking back on the whole thing and just excited that the fans still care and still support us, and our new endeavors and our next projects, they are all kind of anxiously awaiting what’s next and so far being super supportive of everyone moving to other projects now.
What was an invaluable experience you got from being part of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” cast?
It was like a whole year of our life, and now, more than a year has gone by and there’s been so many different things along the way. But I would say that I’ve made friends among the cast that I will have for the rest of my life, and they will be people that I hopefully work with again down the road and that’s a great gift that has happened. As far as being sort of acclimated into this whole internet world and like getting on Twitter for the first time through the show and having people care about what we’re doing, all of these fresh actors on the scene, it’s really great that we now have people that support what we’re doing with our careers, and I don’t know if I would have obtained that aside from that, but it’s been amazing to have this huge group of people just come and unite and support all of us from this point forward. It’s incredible.
“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” fans seem to be some of the most loyal and dedicated fans of any web series online.
That was huge; that’s why the show is the success that it is. There was no outside plugging of the show aside from actual devoted fans who were just sharing the show constantly with their friends and then those friends would share with their friends, and it just became this largely shared thing and it continues. I mean, I just heard that people continue to subscribe to the channel even though no new content is coming out but people are still finding the show and watching it all the way through now, and they didn’t get to be a part of all of the multiplatform storytelling but they’re still enjoying it nonetheless and still sharing it, so the show would be nothing without the fans, and we’re all very aware of that. And it was the coolest thing to engage them, continue to engage with them and get the feedback that we had from them, because it’s just been so loving.