Lauren “Lolo” Spencer Wants To Tell Love Stories Centering Black Disabled Bodies
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 10: Lauren “Lolo” Spencer attends the Los Angeles Premiere Of The New HBO Max Comedy Series “The Sex Lives Of College Girls” at Hammer Museum on November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO)

The Sex Lives Of College Girls includes a scene where one of the characters, Jocelyn, encourages her dorm mate to “seize the d-ck.” Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, who portrays Jocelyn in the HBO comedy-drama approves that message. In fact, the actress, activist, and influencer has been dishing out advice such as that since her own days as a co-ed

“My room was like the spot, so many people were coming in and out of my room to like, hang out and kick it that I never even locked my door just because I just was so tired of having to ride back and forth, opening up the door and unlocking the door,” she told ESSENCE.

Spencer returned to that time mentally to prepare for for her latest role. “I just tapped into my experiences at that time and really remembered what I was going through, how I was trying to discover myself and what it meant to go to parties or throw my own parties and, um, just have those social experiences with different people from different walks of life,” she said. 

Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max

Spencer had her own romantic entanglements and experienced the same kind of sexual awakening as characters on the show created by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble.

“That part of our lives is always a constant learning process because it’s ever changing in so many different ways,” she explained. “It is good to be able to just learn yourself, learn your body, learn what you’re into.

“When I got my first orgasm through penetration, that’s when I knew I was like, ‘Oh so sex can feel like this,’” she added, her purple caesar cut shining as she bobbed her head from side to side. Her then partner permitted her to take her time to uncover how she felt and discover what she wanted. 

“I was dating someone who allowed me the freedom to learn, to make mistakes, to explore and do it in a way that wasn’t going to be judgemental in a way that I was completely, completely comfortable.” 

Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max

Exploration is encouraged by the generation portrayed in The Sex Lives of College Girls, but they also face pressure to arrive at identities they’re proud to share with others, sometimes even before they are able to articulate it to themselves. 

“That’s the messaging that’s being pumped out to us all the time is like this label, this identification and always having to specify who you are constantly. That’s something that’s actually a storyline with one of the main characters, Leighton. She’s like, ‘I just want to exist. I don’t want to have a label. I just want to be me.’ And I feel like everything that I’m doing has to be a talking point or a revolution behind what I’m doing.” 

Spencer admits that she shares the same confident energy that made her character bold enough to shimmy out of her purple slip dress and ride carefree into a naked party on the series, but she also respects those who opt to take a quieter approach to their sex life. 

“I think that there should be more of a balance because not everyone is as comfortable being out loud and talking about it and sharing their experiences. Someone like myself, I am very comfortable with sharing my experiences, but not everyone has that personality type. So we need to make room for those who don’t and being able to let people just explore at their own pace and at their own time with the people that they want to, versus feeling like, let me just hurry up and try to figure out who I am so quickly.” 

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 10: Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer attends the Los Angeles Premiere of HBO Max’s “The Sex Lives Of College Girls” at Hammer Museum on November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Figuring yourself out can be easier with media representation, something frequently denied to wheelchair users. According to the CDC ,”13.7 percent of people with a disability have a mobility disability,” yet we rarely see them canoodling on screen.

“I honestly would love to be the lead in a romantic comedy opposite of somebody extremely fine,” said Spencer. She clarified that her desire was about more than a career come up. 

“I want there to be the representation of a person with a disability, dating someone who is attractive to a majority of the world, that matters because the bar is set so low for our dating lives and our dating experiences and the disabled culture. So I would love to just show that dynamic, show that dynamic of a real relationship, a real love relationship, a real Black love relationship specifically because disability in the black community is its own challenge to tackle in many ways, so being able to show that would be amazing,” she said. 

“When we see representation of disability in the media, it’s usually blonde hair, blue eyes, white boys, or the blonde hair, blue eyed, white girls,” she said. “We never see Black culture intersected with disability.” 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 29: Lauren “Lolo” Spencer at Film Independent presents special screening of “Give Me Liberty” at Film Independent Screening Room on August 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Doheny/Getty Images)

Her character stands in her Blackness during every moment she appears in the comedy series from ogling a stranger’s breasts to side-eyeing a panicking friend to negotiating the worth of a Tiktok shoutout.

“We’ve always viewed disability as a joke. It’s always the butt of the joke. It’s always funny, it’s either clowning someone or being over the top with using our disability to make somebody laugh, to make us feel good, or it’s the extreme something traumatic has to have happened to that person and we never get to see the in between of that, of being, um, happy and Black with the disability. So that representation, I definitely think needs to be shown a lot more.”

Spencer used her voice with producers the way she learned to with her partners to shape Jocelyn. “We did have some conversations,”  she said. “They wanted to be sure that those moments were real.”

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 08: Lauren “Lolo” Spencer attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 08, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

“This role of Jocelyn on ‘Sex Lives’ is definitely going to be one of the first examples, if not the first example of being joyful with a disability and doing it in a way that’s authentic, it’s not forced,” she continued. 

Some criticize efforts to make television reflect the world around us by claiming they’re unrealistic but Spencer knows “the girl exists.” 

“Because I’m the one who’s lived the experience, being joyful, being happy, being sexual, being funny  without being the butt of the joke, and having an attitude being off the chain, partying, all of that.” 

The Sex Lives Of College Girls is now streaming on HBO Max.