Lauren Foster is best known for her role in the television showReal Housewives of Miami.” A trans model, Lauren was featured in an issue of VOGUE/Mexico in 1980 which was quite innovative for the time. Since then, she has seen the trans movement grow and has even been awarded at a Woman of Empowerment brunch hosted by Variety Magazine.

Lauren is also the proud Director of the LGBTQ Clinic at the respected University of Miami. Lauren uses this position to mentor youths—especially trans girls—and is a noteworthy socialite in the Miami scene where she mingles with high-rollers on the beach, in nightclubs, and at private events.

Soon to turn sixty and still stunningly beautiful, Lauren has a vital zest for life and is sharing her journey around the world. On July 26, Lauren discussed these achievements and more via an exclusive interview.

Show business, modeling, honors, and advice

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get into show business and do you consider acting to be your first career?

Lauren Foster (LF): As a child, I was drawn to acting and dancing. I was in every theatrical production that was produced in my small town. I later studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute, under the tutelage of Sally Kirkland and Mark Mano. Yes, acting is my first love.

MM: How did you land a photo shoot with “Vogue” in 1984?

LF: I was a working model, living in Mexico City.

My agent at the time sent me on an editorial go see. She called me two days later to tell me I got the job. We shot the next week. It ended up being five pages. I didn’t tell a soul until it hit the stores. It didn’t feel real until I held the hard copy in my hands. A dream come true and the pinnacle of my modeling career at the time.

MM: How did you get into “Real Housewives”?

LF: My good friend Marysol Patton, who was one of the cast members, asked me to film a scene with her and the girls at lunch at Lisa Pliner’s house on Star Island. A guest on the show was bullying her. I was brought in, basically, to “handle the situation.” There are a few funny memes, out in cyberspace, about the “confrontation.” My debut was well received, and I regularly filmed for Season 2 and 3.

It was fun working with Matt Anderson and all the girls. Most of us are still good friends and hang out often. Marysol and I were just at the beach together last weekend.

MM: You were also just honored as a Woman of Empowerment, so what was that like?

LF: To receive this honor was mind blowing but very humbling at the same time. It’s a great moment when a trans woman is honored as a woman of empowerment, and it is always my message that we are all “normal.” Nothing and no-one is different.

MM: What was it like to come out as trans and how have you seen the community change over the course of thirty years?

LF: I give the same answer every time I’m asked this. I think it was easier for me. I transitioned at 18 and led my life as a woman.

I never identified as trans. I was never hired for my gender identity. I lived my life as a woman. I loved as a woman. I had a career as a woman. The community has gotten so strong in the last five years, and it’s awesome to see the strides it’s given the trans community, but I would like to see us being offered cis roles. That would be real progress. There is part of me that thinks this is being treated as a trend. I feel strongly about this. I am not a trend or a fetish.

MM: You now mentor young trans women, what advice do you give them?

LF: My advice is to always surround yourself with loving friends and family that lift you up. Friends that have your back. This will take you through life and be a long-term blessing.

As it is for any young person.

Social events, Miami, and the future

MM: You are a well-known socialite on the Miami scene, so what is it about the city that you most enjoy?

LF: Miami is having a renaissance. It’s exciting. People here are gorgeous. The food, the weather, the art scene and, of course, the beach. You can always find my friends and me at the beach or a pool party on the weekends. Day or night. I love being outdoors, under the stars or the sun.

MM: You partake in many social and creative events, so which are the most fun and exciting and why?

LF: Miami used to be fun only in season. That has changed. It is exciting all year round now. My favorite event is Art Basel. It is a week of art and parties, with people from all over the world visiting.

Soho Beach House is always my go-to the venue. They do everything right, especially during Basel. Tents on the beach, exciting performers. It’s just a great time. It also falls on the week of my birthday, so it’s a double celebration.

MM: What are your biggest plans for your future and is there anything additional that you would like to mention?

LF: I don’t really plan for the future. I like things to happen organically. That’s how my life has always unraveled. I am in discussion with a well-known DJ to maybe record a track. Travel more. My position with the University of Miami is exciting, and the new leadership we have are very supportive of my future so they might have a few things in mind for me.