A Showgirl's Ultimate Showdown

03Aug

Click here to see in Las Vegas Weekly

If there’s one thing a showgirl knows how to do, it’s everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but she knows how to go all in. You can throw a showgirl in any situation and she’ll give you grace, glamour and 110 percent. If the job calls for 200 percent, she’ll give 210. If it calls for 300, then a showgirl will raise you to infinity!

Okay, I have a confession to make: I don’t gamble very often, but you get where I’m going with this.

A showgirl is always up for a challenge. She has an innate drive to step out of her comfort zone and push herself. Becoming a showgirl takes years of grueling work and determination. She has to want it so badly that she can stand the rejection. She has to take that rejection and turn it into a positive. But most of all, she has to have a great poker face. She’s gotta plaster on that smile and bring joy to every performance, regardless of what goes on behind it.

Lauren Clark was a quiet and shy little girl from Los Angeles. At four years old, her mother put her in dance class. At her first tap recital she just stood onstage, frozen in fear, like a deer caught in the headlights. Lauren’s mother was terrified her daughter’s stage experience would scar her for life. Her mother waited anxiously backstage, ready to wipe away her daughter’s tears. When Lauren had finished her performance, she had never been more excited in her whole life.

Mind you, at four years old, I would imagine she hadn’t had that many exciting experiences yet, other than eating solid foods and maybe walking. But anyway, my point is she had a gift for the poker face. She had to learn how to reverse it so that the smile was on the outside, but that didn’t take long to master. By five years old, she was a pro.

Lauren went on to push herself in extraordinary ways. She attended the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive and landed a role in Jubilee!, which brought her to Vegas. Currently, she’s a stunning showgirl in Vegas! The Show, but perhaps her most extraordinary journey is the one she is taking now.

Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. With no time to process the news, she had two days to tell her cast and crew before traveling to LA for surgery. She’s currently in chemotherapy and is determined to be performing at the same time. She has had three of six treatments and recently went back to try and perform in Vegas! The therapy makes her weak and short of breath, which makes it hard for her to work.

Her goal was to perform through the entire show. She was able to make it halfway before the treatment's side effects got the better of her. As difficult as it was, she kept her poker face on the entire time. Inside she was screaming with frustration, but outside, all the audience could see was her beautiful smile lighting up the stage.

Offstage, Lauren couldn’t hold it back any longer. A flurry of emotions came rushing in. She was so frustrated that cancer had taken so much away from her. But at the same time, she was touched and grateful for her cast mates who didn’t hesitate to leap right in and finish the show for her.

Being able to dance, even for half a show, gave her a piece of her life back. But what she may not realize is that she’s an inspiration to everyone around her, especially her fellow “pink sisters,” women fighting breast cancer.

Whether it’s Lauren’s glamorous Instagram selfies, where she’s in her costume with her beautiful new short ‘do, or her posts to remind everyone to #FeelitontheFirst to promote breast cancer awareness, her openness in sharing her journey has encouraged countless others to smile through life and rise to the challenge.

Cancer treatments are extremely expensive and insurance doesn’t cover it all. If you would like to support Lauren on her journey, visit her GoFundMe page and follow her on Instagram.