A pop culture icon who has built a career on her candid, “straight talk” sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature, Ricki Lake has maintained a worldwide fan base that is a true cross-section of age and ethnicity. Her approachable appeal has charmed international movie and television audiences for more than two decades, and she has managed to reinvent herself at every stage of her career. As “Tracy Turnblad,” the zaftig heroine of the original John Waters’ film HAIRSPRAY, Lake made an acting debut that positioned her as 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 beloved media personality across the globe.
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.
Lake executive produced the critically acclaimed documentary THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and examined natural childbirth in the United States. 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 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 and its companion website, MyBestBirth.com, continue to be invaluable tools for expecting parents, designed to educate families about their birthing options.
In addition to her work on the book and website, Lake has become an integral figure in the birthing community. She is presently on the Board of Choices in Childbirth — a non-profit organization that strives to improve maternity care by helping women make informed decisions about where, how and with whom to birth. 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 soon-to-be parents can benefit from taking a more active role in their birth experiences.
The health and social implications of childhood obesity have also become a focus of Lake’s advocacy efforts. With the recent launch of AllStride.com and the publication of her latest book, TOO SMALL TO BE BIG, she is currently helping to shine a spotlight on an epidemic that impacts more than 12 million American children. Her book and online program take a fully integrated approach that teaches and encourages children to eat right, be active, respect themselves and others, and learn to face life’s challenges with confidence.
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 BABYCAKES and the popular television series CHINA BEACH and THE KING OF QUEENS. She headlined the Lifetime Original Movie MATTERS OF LIFE & DATING and the indie film PARK opposite William Baldwin and Cheri Oteri. Lake also co-executive produced and co-starred in the Hallmark Hall of Fame film LOVING LEAH, featuring Lauren Ambrose (SIX FEET UNDER) and Academy AwardÒ-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, THE RICKI LAKE SHOW. 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 and weight loss. 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,” England’s National TV Award for “Best Talk Show” 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, THE RICKI LAKE SHOW wrapped in 2005, ultimately paving the way for today’s hit talk shows.
THE RICKI LAKE SHOW 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….Ricki just won the Emmy for Best Talk Show Host 2012-2013.