Born and raised in Chicago, Laura Orrico always had an interest in entertainment and comedy. As a child she was influenced by such acts as Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner and John Ritter.
Orrico is an actress, model and the president of Laura Orrico Public Relations. Having worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, she represents clients all over the country and has stared in shows like “King of Queens,” “That 70s Show,” “Kevin Can Wait” and “CSI Miami.”
She knew from early on that she wanted to be the one entertaining and drawing laughter from the audience.
She would perform her own skits for her family at home and entertain them. While this would suggest an outgoing personality, she was actually very shy as a child. This would prove to be one of several obstacles Laura would have to overcome on her journey to fulfilling her dreams.
“Put me in a school situation, when it came my time to read, it was torture,” Laura stated. “I would have to count the paragraphs to figure out which would be mine. I was so soft-spoken, so quiet, and so shy, that I would practice my paragraph until it was my turn.”
Laura began overcoming her timidity as she grew older.
“I didn’t come out of my shyness until around high school,” she said. “You know, personalities change, and I found a whole new group of friends and that helped me a bit. I could perform in front of close friends and family as a child, but when it came to being involved in things like school plays, I only did it once!”
Tragedy struck early on when, at nine years old, she faced the loss of her Father.
“My life’s been crazy, and it’s been a mix of happy and tragic and somewhat of a Lifetime movie,” she said.
As a teenager, she began modeling but still found being comfortable with herself a challenge. It would be her college days when Laura’s determination to get past her shyness proved to be successful.
She attended Columbia College of Chicago and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Television Writing and Producing, with a minor in acting.
She began attending classes and performing at The Second City Chicago, one of the largest schools of improvisation and sketch comedy. She credits this with impacting her success as an actress.
“Taking classes at Second City Chicago is what did it for me,” Laura said. “Learning to not care how you look or what you sound like, but to be funny and have fun. That’s what really helped me.”
During this time, she would continue to model in both print and runway while doing some television commercials. She also decided to give back by helping others.
“I coached actors until I started my business, then I just didn’t have the time anymore,” Laura continued. “I coached kids who were bullied and special needs children. I worked to coach children who wanted to act and who were shy.”
Determined to take her career to the next level, Laura moved to Los Angeles, California. This would prove successful as she began getting parts in TV series’ such as “King of Queens,” “That 70s Show,” “Kevin Can Wait” and “CSI Miami,” etc.
“I love comedy,” she said. “In the beginning, they put me in roles that usually went to females who were pretty and can act. They don’t see you as being able to do comedy. So, an agent and a manager recognized that I did comedy. My late husband [Ryan Cosgrove] helped me edit and create some videos showing my comedy skills and anyone in the industry I would meet, found a creative way to get it to them!”
By creating her own demos, Laura was able to promote her acting skills to industry people and the public alike by loading the videos to social media sites.
“As a comedic actor, I have the strong ability to also do drama,” Laura stated. “A lot of us who do comedy have experienced some type of tragedy. You look for a happy place. You look to make other people laugh and to make ourselves laugh. I can do drama, and I can do it very well, but it would be the role of a lifetime for me to be the lead in a bio pic or comedy!”
In 2007, tragedy would once again find Laura as her husband, Ryan Cosgrove, would be diagnosed with a brain tumor. The couple would relocate back to Chicago as he continued his fight against cancer and she shifted more to the role of caregiver for him.
“He [Ryan Cosgrove] was diagnosed with his brain tumor in 2007,” Laura said. “He went into sort of a remission and being near family helped. He passed away in April of 2015, about a year and four months after we moved back to Chicago. I took that year, between 2015 and 2016, to decide what my next steps would be.”
Once again, she would take tragedy and turn it into a triumph as she launched her boutique PR firm, Laura Orrico Public Relations, LLC.
“I didn’t need to move back to L.A. to work, but I had to ask myself, can I live like this and support myself,” she said. “The industry had changed so much. A celebrity friend of mine reached out and asked me to do some PR work for him. I started handling PR for him and soon after other people started finding out what I was doing and hired me. So, I launched my business on my late husband’s birthday in 2016. Just about a year after his passing.”
Laura attributes the quick success of her PR firm to her being a people person and being strong at growing interpersonal relationships.
“I believe staying positive and doing excellent work for people helps,” Laura stated. “I’m a hard worker. I’m really good with networking, that’s my forte. Relationship building is so important, and I believe that’s what makes us so successful. We’ve had a hundred percent success rate with our clients. All of our clients have been happy.”
Years ago she never envisioned that she would ultimately end up as a successful owner of a PR firm in her earlier days of acting.
“I never thought I’d own a business like this,” Laura explained. “I thought I’d be producing! I believe it was meant to be in how it happened. It really saved me. It was a good distraction after losing my husband. Just to have something I love to put my energy into and keep me busy.”
2020 proved to be another challenge for Laura as a few clients were hit hard by the Covid-19 restrictions.
“When they first shut everything down, it affected a lot of my clients’ industries,” Laura explained. “Some were able to sustain and keep up. Everyone finished out their contracts, and I even ended up taking on new contracts. Some were unable to resign because of the layoffs and loss in their industry. We didn’t take a hit that year, but it changed the way we worked and how we do things.”
In today’s society, politics have really become a focal point on social media by politicians, entertainers and the public. Laura believes for those in entertainment, it is best to stay focused on what you do. When entertainers discuss hot topic issues like politics or religion, it ultimately alienates one side of their fan base.
That’s an example of the growth strategy she implements in helping clients grow their brand and attract as broad of a fan base as possible.
Laura reflects back on the difficulties and hardships she’s faced, and her advice for those who may just be going through it is “surround yourself with friends and family.”
“When my husband passed away, I couldn’t have felt more alone,” Laura said. “I don’t have any siblings, but I have cousins and friends who have become like family. Staying busy helps. You have to handle the grief, or you’ll be in trouble down the road. Support groups are also a help. Sharing also is helpful. It’s therapeutic and helps others.”
In honor of her late husband, Laura started a walk to help raise money for “The Walk For Wellness House.”
“Anyone can start one in honor of their family members,” she said. “We did a walk in my husband’s name and raised money. They asked me to speak at the walk a couple of years ago. That year I had been a sponsor through my company as well. It’s a remarkable organization that supports those who are battling cancer, caregivers and have lost loved ones. It’s free and they have support groups. The walk helps raise money, so the Wellness House can continue to offer their programs at no cost.”
According to Laura, she has always been in entertainment.
“I’ve never held what most would consider a ‘regular’ job,” Laura explained. “I’ve worked as an actress and a model. I’m very blessed that I’ve been able to work and make that my career.”
Aside from the impressive accomplishments Laura has had in business and entertainment, she hopes people will one day remember her for the love and care she has given to her mother, who battles Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. For her acting career and making people laugh, and for the positive affects her firm has made in helping their clients.
“I want to keep things happy and positive,” she said.
That drive and desire to succeed, coupled with her positive outlook and genuine concern for others, has helped make Laura a driving force in the PR industry. It’s how she turned tragedy into triumph.