The Girls!

Lori Mae Hernandez

ComedianLancaster, CAStory and Photos by Lauri Levenfeld
Like so many, I was completely awed by the courage, humility, and joy that Lori Mae Hernandez showcased on last season’s America’s Got Talent. I mean the 13-year old took on Donald Trump! But what many don’t know is how her passion and her enthusiasm for life (and for the stage) blossomed through her parent’s unwavering devotion, both channeling her interests and strengths into daily activities the whole family could join forces in. When Lori’s father Rick developed Bell’s Palsy, Lori dedicated each day to crafting one perfect joke to make her dad smile. This lasted a year. And the jokes were so good that Dad and daughter decided to take the act on the road. After spending the day with this extraordinary family unit, it is quite obvious that Lori doesn’t fall far from the tree and has chosen to use her wit, humor and talents to entertain, inspire, and teach the world. In a year full of dynamic possibilities and shifts (and a possible woman president), Hernandez has not shied away from the opportunity to make each joke count, as well as, to create opportunity to break through barriers with social commentary that calls for action. And check out Hernandez’ YouTube inspired song about The Project for Girls at the end of this story. 
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1. Who is Lori Mae Hernandez?

I’m your average 13 year old girl that’s so quiet in class that she has to sit in the front row at school so the teacher can actually hear her. Mickey and Bunny are my brother and sister (don’t make fun of their names, they’re dogs). Besides them I’m an only child. I’m still grieving over the loss of Mr. Fishy. He was not a dog, he was a fish. I love my parents so much. My Mom has taught me many wonderful things like being kind and witty, but one of my favorite things she taught me is the beauty of an afternoon nap. I look up to my dad even more then my mom because he’s taller. I’m just kidding, but he always taught me how to face my fears and not take the world too seriously. Our family loves to laugh!

I still have not found a sport that I’m NOT pathetic at. But I know there’s a sport out there for me so I’m not giving up. I love to write, read, make YouTube videos, play ukulele, sew, cook (I can make a mean artichoke), take pictures, all while making people laugh. I watch old movies, I play old songs, I draw, I go to museums, I like Thai food, so if any of those become a sport, I’m ready!


2. You come from two very creative and passionate parents (both of whom are teachers). Tell us what you’re childhood has been like.

My parents are my favorite people in the entire world! My Dad is the drama/improv teacher and my Mom is the art teacher and they split the film classes. I’ve probably done high school about three times, so I’m ready to actually get credit for it.

Ever since I could remember, we had a project going on. When I was about five years old we went to San Francisco and we made a movie about what kids could do in San Francisco. There was a trolley and my dad couldn’t find a parking space so me and my Mom got out of the car and I jumped on the trolley hung off the side and said “We’re in San Francisco and I’m on a trolley. Let’s go check it out!” After that we got back in the car, and all laughed. My parents looked at each other and thought, “She’s ready.” Ever since that day I got the nickname One Take Mae (except when I do more then one take).

We celebrate everything! Birthdays, holidays, even half-birthdays are big. Most the time we just celebrate being together. We love to laugh.

We’re always cracking jokes and always appreciating each other’s company. I feel very blessed to have them both in my life.


3. Before America’s Got Talent, there were so many other projects you were working on (including your latest short film My Soldier)- tell us more.

I believe the spice of life is creating new fun projects. I’ve always loved writing, and that doesn’t just have to be comedy. I wrote and directed a short film when I was twelve called My Soldier.” It was accepted to Indie Fest USA International Film Festival, with all adults and me. I was in a field with amazing filmmakers from all over the world so I was very honored to win an award. I won “Best Up and Coming Director” and was nominated for “Best Short Film” and “Best Overall Feature.” I also have done a lot of YouTube videos. When I first started doing the videos, it was near Christmas, so then my family and I had the brilliant idea of making 25 Christmas videos in 25 days. That seemed to have worked out, because I kept doing the videos (not Christmas, just videos)!

The main thing is, I want to try everything. One of my idols is Steve Martin because they call him a ‘Renaissance Man,’ which means he does everything. And that’s what I want to do, everything. I can be a ‘Renaissance Woman.’


4. When your dad got Bell’s palsy, you started performing in your living room to make him laugh, when did you decide to take your act to the next level and on the road? What did that entail?

Before America’s Got Talent, I always loved to write. But when my Dad got Bell’s Palsy, he was very sad and he couldn’t smile. I was the only one that could cheer him up, so I made it my goal to write him a joke every day to make him smile. He spent my entire life making me laugh, so now it was my turn to help him learn to smile again. It seemed like the cornier the joke, the harder he tried to laugh. So now that I have 365 jokes in my back pocket, I wrote a joke book. Still looking for a publisher. After about a year he did smile and it was a wonderful moment, then he challenged me to tell my jokes in public. And that’s how my stand-up career began.

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5. What is the scariest part of doing comedy? The biggest thrill?

You ask me what the scariest part of comedy is? Nothing. I try not to think about anything like that. To quote Tracy Morgan, “I don’t get nervous, I get excited, because nervous- you can’t wait for it to end, excited- you can’t wait for it to start!” The biggest thrill of doing comedy is writing the jokes that I’ve worked so hard on and hearing the audience laugh at them.


6. Tell us a little about the AGT experience, how has this shaped you more as an artist?

AGT is the biggest talent show in the world. Millions of people saw me do stand-up. People contact me from all over the world to tell me they like what I do. I learned so much from the other performers, the producers, and the crew. What they all do is incredible! If it weren’t for any of them I would still just be performing to my dogs. So I will forever thank them for their professional and loving platform they give to the television world.

7. George Carlin said “Find where the line is drawn, and deliberately cross it.” What does this mean to you in regards to creating content that has social commentary?

George Carlin said “A comedian’s job is to find where the line is drawn and deliberately cross it.” I think he’s brilliant, because my comedy style is to find out what’s hot in the world of pop culture and then tie that in to my average, American, 13-year-old girl life. And, when I do it in a blind set up, it usually pays off.


8. What are your latest obsessions? Rubber duckies and….

My latest obsessions are my dogs, old movies, HARRY POTTER, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, playing the ukulele, traveling, books, drawing, writing, anything Disney, any comedian that makes me laugh, and making Uke Reviews (a use review is when I do a book review on my ukulele).

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9. What would you like to say to your girl (TPFG) community, your peers?

Who cares what people think? Never let anyone steal your thoughts from you. The mind is a beautiful thing, use it. Let nobody steal your voice. Make the world a better place in whatever you do. And don’t wait until tomorrow, do it now. And always remember hate’s easy, love’s hard, but worth it. And most important, always try to find the funny in the world because life’s too short not to laugh!


10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

First of all, I hope in five years I will be able to let go of Mr. Fishy.

And, I hope I live in a world that’s not divided and everyone treats everyone with more humanity. That little girls have a large voice in our society. #girlpower. And, I hope I’m still blessed enough to still perform because I’m a performer and I love to entertain people and make them laugh.

And Lauri Levenfeld, thank you so much for letting me be a part of this wonderful project. You are amazing at what you do for women and girls everywhere. You are a true inspiration to me, thank you so much.

**Check out my YouTube song about The Project for Girls below. xo

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One thought on “Lori Mae Hernandez

  1. Lori Mae, you’re amazing! You’re such a role model for younger girls and an inspiration to those of us who are older!

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