Lauren London Learned More About Her Jewish Roots Filming 'You People' : It Became 'Personal'

The actress talks about how her heritage influenced her upbringing, and what she took away from the Netflix comedy she stars in with Jonah Hill

Actress Lauren London learned more about her Jewish roots while filming the romantic and family comedy You People, which is streaming on Netflix now.

"My dad is Jewish, my mom is black," London tells PEOPLE Every Day podcast host Janine Rubenstein of her real-life upbringing. "I just grew up with my mother in my household. I didn't grow up with my dad living with us. My parents divorced when I was really young. I was three, so my experience is of my mother's experience, because I just grew up with a single black mom."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: Lauren London attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Lauren London. Amy Sussman/Getty

In the movie, she plays Amira Mohammed, who enters into a relationship with Ezra Cohen, played by Jonah Hill. When the couple wants to marry and tries to unite their families — played by Eddie Murphy and Nia Long, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny — everything that can go wrong, does.

"What felt personal was shooting in L.A.," London says of finding elements of her own story in her character. "And some of those areas that we shot in and some of the places that we shot in. I liked that they were Jewish 'cause it was also some stuff that I got to learn via being in the movie that I didn't know."

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In addition to it being personally resonant for her, London says, the shoot was "just fun."

You People. (L to R) David Duchovny as Arnold, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Shelley, Jonah Hill (Writer-Producer) as Ezra, Lauren London as Amira, Eddie Murphy as Akbar, and Nia Long as Fatima in You People.
Parrish Lewis/Netflix

"It was really a masterclass watching Eddie and Julia and David and Nia and even Jonah," she recalls. "Jonah's an improv master and so was Eddie. It was a lot of laughter, Eddie and Julia talking about their SNL days, and I'm asking Nia about Boys in the Hood because I grew up watching that stuff. Those are my favorite days. It was cool."

At home, London is mom to Kameron, 13, with Lil Wayne, and Kross, 6, whose dad is the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in 2019.

"I'm a single mom, so I want to be very realistic with them," London says. "Life is tough. I don't wanna cushion everything for them. I want them to be prepared for life. I think I'm a balance because sometimes I think I may be going too soft, but I have times where I'm like, 'Hey, hey, hey, y'all, come on now. Let's get this together.' I think I'm an old-school mother."

Ultimately, London says, she's focused on all the good in her life: "My kids are healthy, they are happy, and I am healthy. I'm here. I have an opportunity to make it a good day. And so I would have to say that every day. My intention is to make the best out of what I have. I don't wanna ask God for too much."

You People is streaming now on Netflix.

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