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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Dec 06, 2020

TV Host Turns to Local Inspiration While Working from Home

By Shanna O'Mara

Driving through town, locals take the same streets, see the well-known storefronts and recognize the familiar faces. But how many stop to truly appreciate their home and get to know the people who make the community all that it is? For one local woman, a curiosity about others has paved the way to a new venture, a video series highlighting the people and stories of Monmouth County. Meet Fair Haven’s Lauren Mattia Levine.

“I love connecting with people,” Levine said. “I really like talking to people. Everyone has a story, and I’m so honored when people share theirs with me.”

Levine grew up on Long Beach Island and moved to Fair Haven when she was 9 years old. She lived here through her adolescence, pursuing dance as a hobby. After graduating from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, she moved to New York City and attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

“In college, some of my friends worked at the local cable station,” she said. “As soon as I stepped foot on the sound stage, I knew I was home. The element of performance felt familiar.”

She studied film and television, and she continued to work in the city after graduation. For 10 years, she worked in fashion at stores like Barneys and Bloomingdale’s, traveling all over the country selling men’s wear.

“I had wardrobe experience from working in film, so fashion was a natural fit,” she said. “It’s also something I really enjoyed and still do.”

Levine returned to Fair Haven 11 years ago. She and her husband, Dan, moved back to the area and began raising their two children, Oliver and Lia. She also returned to her TV roots in 2009 when she created Real Jersey Shore, a video series in which she interviews local people making an impact on the community in a variety of often understated ways.

Lauren Mattia Levine with her husband, Dan, and their children, Oliver and Lia

“A big part of why I do these videos is because I like to capture things in life that are frequently missed,” she said, noting that she has interviewed everyone from local postal workers to state senators to her own family members. “We don’t always stop to think about these people’s stories, but when we do, we’re captivated. You really never know what you’re going to uncover.”

Last August, much of the area experienced a days-long power outage during a heat wave, and many were focused on keeping cool in their homes. Levine, having seen utility workers on the job for nearly a week, decided to approach the Alabama-plated truck and introduce herself. “I’m saying to myself, ‘These guys drove up from Alabama. They must have a story,’” she recalled. After speaking with the workers and asking if they’d like to be on Real Jersey Shore, she positioned her camera and miked up her guests. The men revealed they were actually from Kentucky and Ohio. They received a call about power outages in New Jersey and dropped everything to come help their northern neighbors. Levine, with her charismatic approach to interviewing and ability to put people at ease on camera, learned all about these men: why they chose this field, how their jobs work day to day and the progress fixing the outages in the state. They even opened up about a dear friend they tragically lost the day before.

Most recently, Levine interviewed her daughter who was working on a science project for school. They discussed the experiment as well as how virtual learning was going in their home. Since the start of the pandemic, Levine and her children have been at home more often, as have many who now work and educate from their houses. Although Levine was hired by QVC this past winter as a guest host and brand spokesperson, many of those projects have been put on hold due to safety concerns. During this hiatus from QVC, Levine has been working on her local videos.

“I’ve been really focused on these videos since the start of the pandemic,” she said. “It’s great because I get to meet people on the street and even help the community. I’ve worked with organizations like Lunch Break, the Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation and Monmouth Day Care Center, volunteering and making videos for their fundraisers. It’s something unique that I can provide to bring extra eyes to the cause.”

To see more of Levine’s videos, follow @RealJerseyShoreVideos on Facebook and visit ReallyJersey.com. To connect with Lauren, message her through social media or email realjerseyshore@gmail.com.

 

 

Three things to know about Lauren Mattia Levine:

  1. Lauren was born in Atlantic City, truly connecting her to all parts of the Jersey Shore!
  2. She and her daughter have discussed opening a clothing store in the area.
  3. Lauren is an award-winning black belt martial artist, as is her mother.