Lauren Duca Just Won’t Shut Up
Here’s a chat with one of the Internet’s defiant darlings, who, by the way, is still queer, uncanceled, and really needs you to participate in our democracy.
Growing up as a millennial woman in suburban New Jersey isn’t particularly noteworthy, but Lauren Duca is definitely that. Today, she’s a journalist, and opinion writer and editor; you have likely seen her work in HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Independent and more. This year, she released her first book, How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics.
Above all, she continues to prove that she was right all along and that the intersection of art, politics, civics, and pop culture is closer than you think. “Shouldn’t we be thinking differently and creatively about what methods should be used to pull people in? Because all of the tactics that are used to get people to watch a viral post, to click to buy a fried chicken sandwich, to go see the Transformers films – none of that is in any way attached to good, serious political journalism, to moral clarity, to the conviction of political opinion,” Duca says. “It’s a huge missed opportunity because the journalist’s job is to make the significant interesting. And that’s a place where my peers have adjudicated their duties. I wish that more influencers were conducting themselves like journalists.”
In How to Start a Revolution, Duca hopes to be both a case study and a guide. She wants young people to have what she calls a “click moment,” and become good people, too. “The daily work of being a good person and being a good citizen is always delivering the energy to take care of yourself so that you can be fully present and share as much love as possible with the interconnected collective,” she adds.
Despite her rallying cries for inclusion and equality, she’s encountered quite a few haters. There are the accusations that she is a charlatan and even, a scammer. About this, Duca recoils: “I feel that I was catapulted to this. And then I said, ‘I have this platform. I want to choose to work to sustain it and to use it for good.’ There’s this perception of me of being very wealthy and living this gilded life. Meanwhile, all of the best writers of our time are basically making the same as a middle manager at Best Buy.”
But the constant accusations, about her character, her motives, her purpose – doesn’t it all become exhausting? “The thing that I lose my mind over is the erasure of the work, and the complete and total disregard for all of the research and recording that go into this role. It’s been hard to watch myself get turned into this caricature that is built off of weird rumors and flaws that are metastasized into the entirety of my being,” she contends. “So there will be these screeds about me as some sort of ‘viral phenomenon’ that then don’t mention that I interviewed hundreds of young people and wrote How to Start a Revolution to convince them that they have a right and duty to have political conversations.”
Duca spent years meeting, interviewing, and researching hundreds of newly engaged young people from around the country who were discovering how to participate in democracy, many for the very first time. Some even started their own non-profits. During the process, she also interviewed political scientists and college professors, including a (then) little-known political hopeful named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.“To me, it’s endlessly obvious to the point of absurdity that I am routinely being attacked and told to shut up, because I’m ‘too stupid’ and ‘too silly’ because that’s the core thing that I’m trying to combat,” says Duca. “But I feel like it is my duty to continue being vulnerable and to continue expressing myself at a level that is about political freedom, but also, all kinds of freedom. And I hope that I am right about the scale of awakening that is underway. I will continue to aim to serve that mission because I don’t know how to do anything else.”
But about that whole scam thing… “If I do have a scam, my scam is trying to untangle the white supremacist patriarchy and replace it with equitable public power. So, I deeply hope for all of you that I get away with it,” Duca affirms.
Writer: Kristina Villarini
Photographer: Reka Nyari
Stylist: Cristina Wasserman
Stylist Assistant: Brian Robotham
Hair & Makeup: Vassilis Kokkinidis (vassiliskokkinidis.com - for FORD Artists - using Trish McEvoy & Shu Uemura Art of Hair)
Videographer: Bojan Ivovic
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Editorial Assistant: Marian Nimoh
Special thanks to Dr Smood (@drsmood - www.drsmood.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)