People & Inspiration

Daily Diaries: What It Was Like Working With The Unpretentious Laura Lehmann

Daily Diaries: What It Was Like Working With The Unpretentious Laura Lehmann

I first encountered Laura Lehmann in an elevator ride to the Culture Shock Productions office. She was to be introduced to the team as the new co-host of Walter Demesa for Listed, a Lifestyle Network show that featured the best of Philippine lifestyle, travel, culture, and food. "Call me Lau," she offers, shaking everyone's hand with a warm but shy smile. She was pretty in a charming way, evoking images of sunshine and daisies, her unassuming manner unlike the stereotypical attitudes one can expect from people who know that they are good-looking. There was definitely more to this girl than meets the eye. 

As we started working together—I as a writer on the show—the different facets of Lau slowly emerged. Far from her seemingly meek disposition, it wasn't beyond Lau to try out what is unfamiliar. After diving for some oysters, her curiosity prompted her to sample some for the very first time. Eschewing the usual cutlery, she cracked open a shell fresh from the ocean and slurped up every last drop. “This is delicious,” she declared in one of our first shoots together, “I can't believe that I haven't had oysters till today!” This was perhaps a foreshadowing of Lau's enormous appetite.

During one of our meal breaks, we all watched in fascination as she loaded her plate with mounds of rice fit for at least three people. “I love rice,” said Lau as she decimated the entire plate so nonchalantly, “I could eat a whole lot of it!” On a flight to Naga, Lau brought two bags of chips and four different chocolate bars. “Do you want some,” she sweetly offers. “In a bit,” I replied, thinking that I had some time to grab a few pieces later during the day. Later, I find out that, not only did the lady polished off everything during the one-hour flight, she also ate a full lunch on our arrival. With dessert. 

Surely, with such an appetite, I thought, Lau's fitness regimen would be unparalleled. After all, with the amount of calories that she ingests on a regular basis, this would be the only way that she could maintain her figure. Lau is the first to admit, however, that she is no gym rat. “My only fitness is during my sports training,” she confesses. True enough, during a segment where Lau and Walter were slated to demonstrate a fitness routine developed by coaches Jim and Toni Saret, she opted to perform the most basic versions of the moves, leaving Walter to execute the more advanced ones. “It's my first time to do these,” she laughed, as Coach Toni corrected Lau's stance, “These look deceptively easy but my thighs are screaming in pain!”

For the Crossfit segment, we watched Lau grapple with more advanced moves: shakily performing a wall ball throw, pausing to catch her breath in between burpees. “Do you want to take a break?” I'd ask. Lau declined: “I can do this. I just have to learn the movements.” Watching her struggle through all those repetitions, it was clear that the whole endeavor was something akin to torture for Lau. But, she showed an incredible amount of grit when she finished all the segments to the best of her abilities, with just enough energy to flash a sleepy smile and a thumbs-up at the end of each shoot. “See, I survived it, Mels!”  

If there's one place that Lau is completely at home with, it is in the water. “I could swim all day, everyday,” Lau exclaimed. Judging from the sparkle in her eyes, you could see that it is, indeed, her happy place. In Matnog, Sorsogon, the entire crew watched with baited breath as Lau crossed an estuary known to sweep stronger men out into the ocean to triumphantly flash her trademark pose when she reached the quiet cove across it. She surprised everyone when she repeatedly dove underwater to search for Sorsogon's famed sea grapes. “Is this the correct one, Kuya?” she asked, looking expectantly the boatman each time she surfaced with a different specie of seaweed. When she finally found the correct one, she plops a significant chunk into her mouth. “Yum! It's salty but good!” She also gamely held her breath underwater for a several seconds for the crew to capture a shot of her playing with some colorful fish. “Do we have the shots we need? I can dive again, it's no biggie!”  

 

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A post shared by Laura Lehmann (@iamlauralehmann) on

Lau also has the propensity to fall asleep anywhere—in a rickety van squished to the brim with equipment, luggage and other crew members, in a quiet bench in a provincial bus stop, waiting for her turn to shoot her segment, in a secluded couch in a restaurant in between takes: she can seek solace in the most inconvenient places. "I'm so sleepy," she would say, as she settled in her napping stance. This zero-pretentions attitude also allows Lau to have zero qualms about pitching in to carry heavy equipment together with the rest of the crew while hiking to a remote shoot location, sitting on the side of the road to crack open pili nuts with some locals, and cavorting around in the sand with some island children she encountered in one of the islands we were shooting in. “It's so cool, I made several new friends!” 

 

Can I be a fish instead? ?????? @listedonlifestyle @lifestyletvph ??

A post shared by Laura Lehmann (@iamlauralehmann) on

Despite her accomplishments as a courtside reporter, Lau recognizes that being a television host requires a different skill set. “Mels, how can I better explain oysters?” she asked, before climbing into a boat. “Ask the boatman if these are species that are capable of forming pearls,” I advised. She would then proceed accordingly, asking other questions to make the segment more interesting. "How much do you make in a day of collecting oysters," she queried, "Is it enough to feed your family?"

[related: Hot Stuff: Miss World PH Laura Lehmann Was A UAAP Reporter, National Athlete, And More!]

This consideration for others extended to everyone she met. “Wait, Tito Joel hasn't eaten yet,” she would exclaim, as she thoughtfully sets aside food for crew members. She cuddles up to all the dogs she finds, making no distinction for strays or pedigreed ones. “Dogs are simply adorable,” she would say, as she nuzzled a random puppy she found loitering around a shoot. And, despite being the newbie in the production team of Listed, she somehow found the courage to voice out her opinions on pranks played on set that she found insensitive, risking alienation to stand up for the values she believes in. “Wally is deathly scared of rats; I didn't think that was funny to play a joke like that on him,” she shrugged, when I asked her about the incident. 

[related: Couple Peg: Laura Lehmann and Von Pessumal, as Cool as Cool Can Get]

One year later, I bump into her randomly in my new job, here for the site. Lau was to host a segment for a webisode and we reminisced a bit about our past shoots, laughing at random recollections, recapping what has transpired in both our lives since we saw each other. She was beyond busy, Lau confided, hinting at doing something major in the near future. “I can't tell you about it just yet, Mels,” she confided, “But, please wish me luck.” 

All the best, Lau. The world is at your feet.

ALSO READ: Hot Stuff: November 2017 Is Beauty Pageant Month And The PH Is Looking To Reign Supreme!

Photographs from Instagram.com/iamlauralehmann and Facebook.com/wdemesa

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