From acting and producing, to dancing her way into the hearts of television audiences, Emmy Award-winning television host Ricki Lake is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her graciously candid sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature. In recent years, she has channeled her nurturing spirit and drive for social change into passion projects that are altering the way society views birth, breastfeeding, childhood obesity and birth control.
Lake’s legacy and perhaps her greatest love is her role as independent filmmaker. Her award-winning, critically acclaimed documentary “The Business of Being Born” debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 and is often hailed as the “must see” film among mothers-to-be “I was profoundly affected by the births of my two sons in ways I never anticipated,” Lake comments. “It can be one of the most empowering experiences in a woman’s life. But part of that involves having options and being the decision-maker in what you want that experience to be.”
Lake and creative partner Abby Epstein co-wrote the book, “Your Best Birth” and released “More Business of Being Born” a four-part DVD series featuring celebrities sharing their birth stories, as well as an in-depth discussion on the birth process. “The Business of Being Born” franchise includes a thirty-minute classroom edition, which has screened at hundreds of schools all over the country. Under their joint venture BOBB Films, Epstein and Lake served as Executive Producers of the 2014 documentary “Breastmilk” and the upcoming, “The Mama Sherpas.” BOBB Films is also in production on two new feature documentaries: “Weed the People” and “Sweetening the Pill.”
Lake teamed up with All Stride and John Monaco, MD for her book “Too Big to be Small,” which examines childhood obesity as an epidemic, but also gives a realistic approach to helping kids lose weight. Lake shares her personal struggles as an overweight child and her path to discovering her life purpose and happiness.
The world first met Lake in 1988 as Tracy Turnblad in John Waters’ film “Hairspray.” Her additional film credits include “Cry-Baby,” “Serial Mom,” “Working Girl,” “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” and “Mrs. Winterbourne.” Television credits include “Babycakes,” “China Beach,” “The King of Queens,” “Matters of Life & Dating,” and “Loving Leah.”
At the age of 24, Lake became one of the youngest daily talk show hosts in history with the debut of “The Ricki Lake Show.” After 11 successful seasons, “The Ricki Lake Show” wrapped in 2005 but returned in 2012, garnering Lake the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Lake also competed on the 13th season of “Dancing with the Stars,” where she made it to the finals with partner and three-time champion Derek Hough.
Lake has become an integral figure in the birthing community, having served for many years on the board of Choices in Childbirth, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve maternity care all over the world. In addition, she is a strong supporter of gay and lesbian rights working with various organizations such as The Trevor Project.
Lake is also the proud mother of 18-year-old Milo and 13-year-old Owen. “They are both creative, compassionate and independent thinkers,” Lake comments. “Motherhood is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of my life.”
Abby Epstein produced and directed the celebrated documentary The Business of Being Born, with her longtime producing partner, Ricki Lake. Heralded as a “must-see for every pregnant woman,” The Business of Being Born premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival where it was named among “Best of the Fest” by New York Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. The Business of Being Born was released theatrically in 2008 and had its broadcast premiere on Showtime. The success of the film inspired Abby and Ricki’s book Your Best Birth, which was published by Hachette. Their follow-up DVD series More Business of Being Born featuring Cindy Crawford, Alanis Morissette, Gisele Bundchen and Christy Turlington was released in 2011.
Abby made her film directing debut at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival with the documentary, Until the Violence Stops, featuring Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, Salma Hayek and Rosie Perez. The film played at the Miami, Santa Barbara, Maui and Locarno Film Festivals and won the Audience Award at the Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver. Until the Violence Stops premiered on Lifetime Television and received an Emmy and a Gracie Allen Award.
Under their joint venture BOBB Films, Abby and Ricki served as Executive Producers of the 2014 documentary Breastmilk, the upcoming The Mama Sherpas, and are in production on two new films: Weed the People and Sweetening the Pill.
Prior to her film work Abby directed theater, helming National Tours and international premieres of RENT and “The Vagina Monologues.”