After overcoming great obstacles in the last few years, Lauren London is admittedly a changed person. You may have noticed. Since Nipsey Hussle’s passing in 2019, conversations with her, about her, have been subdued and reflective — about loss, healing. But as ESSENCE learned in recent conversation with her, she’s also been incredibly inspired — by her own strength and that of her two sons. That resilience has inspired her Forever Stronger collection with Puma, which originally was released in 2021 and quickly sold out. On June 9, a reimagined extension of the original launch was made available. This one, still with the signature LA penmanship on the chest, was inspired by her boys and offers options for kids.
“I wanted to include children’s sizes because I felt like just as life is progressing and just as I’m growing, I’m starting to realize the resilience in my own children,” she tells ESSENCE. “And so I really wanted to include children and give them some affirmative wear as far as them believing in themselves and feeling like no matter what, they will forever be stronger and just have something to represent their resilience.”
London, her friends and children are photographed for the campaign (by Danny Williams). People who’ve faced adversity and come out stronger, looking intently at the camera in the black and white images.
But having faced adversity doesn’t mean one is devoid of joy. London has a lot of it, actively seeking it for herself and her kids. “I’m always trying to see in what ways I can work on myself so that my children have peace in their home,” she says. “So they have joy in their home. So that there’s laughter in their home.”
So what brings her joy? For the actress, it’s the simple things. A good piece of pizza or some tacos. Watching Golden Girls. Listening to classic jams from the ’90s.
“A good cup of coffee like in the morning,” she adds. “I have new eyes now as far as what joy means for me. And yeah, it’s those really simple things for me that bring me immense joy.”
We spoke with London about what it means to be “Forever Stronger,” her love of LA, the “serious” perception of her, and ways she’s pursuing pure joy and peace.
ESSENCE: How does the line, this iteration and the original, how do they both represent Los Angeles?
Lauren London: I personally feel like I just embody my city just in my brand and just who I am as a Los Angeles native and really coming from LA soil. The writing definitely, I feel like it represents an LA street penmanship. But also, just it coming from me, personally, it feels like me. I’ve always been a very simple style, comfort expression of my passion person. And so I feel like this is just very simple: hoodie, long sleeve, the kind of classic LA writing and a blue heart that represents Nip for me and just a love for LA.
Could you ever see yourself moving out of LA?
I feel like people feel like I’ll never leave. Because that’s a question I’ve gotten before from like friends of mine. My family, I’m like second generation from LA. My mom’s first generation. So it’s not that even if I do leave, I’m leaving, because I’ve got so much family out here, but yeah. I can see myself living in another country or more into like a desert life, more secluded. As I get older right now, my kids are in school and I have a son that’s in middle school. So he is like highly attached to his social life. But I guess the short answer to your question is because my heart is in LA, my physical is. I could probably hang out in the desert of California.
But life is ever changing. So who knows? I know I really love Arizona. I’ve been back and forth a lot in Sedona and just doing a lot of healing out there. I think as I get older, the city life is a bit fast for me. So I would like to kind of settle down and sit more in nature. But I could see myself moving into like a secluded area with nature and wake up to water running or something like that.
In the spirit of Forever Stronger, what is something that you’ve learned about yourself from the adversity that you’ve been able to overcome that has moved or surprised you?
You always hear like, oh, what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. And I never really understood that notion fully, because I never had to fully live it. I’ve experienced things that I thought would for sure be the end of me and my surprise is myself. My tenacity to want to be better from all my pain and all of my stripes. I’m really surprised. I mean, and I do have my very bad moments where I feel like life is against me, but ultimately I’ve realized that it’s not. I want to thrive. I want to be better. I want to rise from the ashes. I don’t want to like bury myself in them. And at one point I thought that I would.
And what strength do you find in being a mother to your sons? I know when you dropped the very first release of Forever Stronger, you said your son Kam told you he was proud of you, which is always a beautiful thing.
I love my kids to my core and I want them to have very happy, joyful lives. And so I’m always very cautious of my own stress and sadness and whatever I may be feeling because I want them to have a happy and joyful mom. And I want them to have peace in their home. So my intentions are to always not be fake about it and pretend like life is Disneyland, but looking at them and knowing what they deserve makes me want to be my best and is actually the encouragement. I like to get up to make it a good day, to seek peace in the morning so that I give that energy to my kids.
And speaking on joy, the impression I get when people talk about you and they look at you these days is they see you as a very serious kind of figure because of the things that you’ve been able to make it through. But if you don’t mind me asking, what are as you mentioned, the things you like to do that bring you joy?
I guess I am kind of serious, right? It’s a very serious space I’m in because I’m doing a lot of work on myself. So I’m faced with a lot of serious things. So I think this is a serious phase I’m in. But life is ever changing and always evolving and unfolding. I know this is just this chapter of my life. I went to an Anita Baker concert last night and that brought me pure joy. I love nineties music and I love really good food. I’m really simple now. I love Disneyland and rollercoasters and I love coming home and it’s quiet and I can turn on The Golden Girls. You know what I mean?
I’m hella boring. I’ve been through too much sh-t. It’s time for boring in my life. I think there’s pressure on feeling like I have to be doing so much to be at peace, but it’s the simplicity that brings me peace.
And lastly, how do you define “Forever Stronger”? What does that mean to you?
That just means for me, like no matter what you go through, you are stronger from it. You’ll forever be stronger in life. Every hurdle you come across, you are meant to climb over. And whatever it is, may you be forever stronger from it.