Lola is determined to keep seeking out creative risks, even if they prove heavy and hard. It is, she believes, the best way to stop the art from falling out of her craft. “I’m very good at being told what to do. In fact, I love being told what to do. But I realize how utterly uncreative that is and I’d rather not do it anymore. It means taking more risks and making myself more vulnerable,” she says. “I want to know how to be the most ‘me’ that I can be. I ask myself how I can embody my roles as personally as I can.”
In AWOL, Lola plays Joey, a high school graduate who falls in love with an older, married woman with two kids. It’s another coming-of-age story, albeit one set in an economically depressed rural community, and for Lola it offered a vehicle through which to explore her fascination with the many iterations of American identity. “I’m the only one in my family with an American accent, and I’ve always had a preoccupation with America,” she explains.
Recently, she’s been depressed by what she’s uncovered. As her country reveals new sides to its character, Lola finds herself longing for an America of the past—one that she never knew; one she thinks looked easier and felt simpler. She laments the pervasiveness and artificiality of social media—that what’s considered “cool” has shifted away from anti-establishment, countercultural movements and has instead been co-opted by corporate interests. It’s a symbolic shift away from the values she holds dear. “‘Cool’ now belongs to the realm of Urban Outfitters or Nylon—to corporate empires that prey on what’s cool and turn it into an instrument of consumption,” she says.
Lola prefers to take a more old-school countercultural stance. This year, she was photographed with armpit hair on the red carpet at the Golden Globes. She had adorned her floral pink ball gown with a pin that read “Fuck Paul Ryan”—a response to the Republican politician’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. When asked by Elle.com why she’d chosen the accessory, she explained: “As a person with a platform, no matter what size it is, I think it’s important to share your views and elevate people who might agree with you, who maybe won’t feel like they can have the same voice. My body my choice, your body your choice.”
It is in this vein that Lola released a country-inspired EP last fall. As a teenager, she used singing and playing the guitar as an outlet when she was feeling low; last year, in a low bout, she took it up again with more seriousness. “I love playing guitar, I love playing bass, and just getting to a place with both those instruments where they’re starting to feel like part of my body,” she says.
This burgeoning side gig has finally led Lola to launch an Instagram account after spurning the platform for years. Not surprisingly, her Instagram shows off her irony-laced brand of wit rather than promoting some heavily filtered lifestyle. “You know you’ve hit the big time when your concerts are advertised on health food store bulletin boards across Northern California,” she writes in one caption underneath an image of a new-age poster for devotional chanting with her face photoshopped on top.
It’s late in LA and Lola is starting to yawn. She’s been singing all day and her low voice is starting to veer into raspy territory, a sign she needs to rest up for a show in a few days. Before we finish, I ask what have been the most defining moments of her life so far. “No moment is better than another,” she replies, “though there were some that I liked more than others.”