Forrmer talk show host and actress Ricki Lake is the sort of celebrity that was made for the culture of the quirky 90s. Originally from Baltimore, Lake was a character in many of oddball director Roger Walters films of the late 1980s, but she rose to stardom through her appearance in his breakout cult-classic “Hairspray” as Tracy Turnblad, the film’s protagonist.
Lake’s acting career eventually led to her hosting the popular daytime talk show, “The Ricki Lake Show,” which became a syndicated program on television in the 1990s and into the 2000s. Lake’s quirky-and-smart character and her terrific personality made her a natural in the role, as it seemed like she could get anyone to talk about anything. And, at just 24 years old, she was the youngest person to ever host a talk show on network television. For here on, she would be forever sealed into the zeitgeist of Generation X.
She finally decided to hang up the microphone and cease production on “The Ricki Lake show” in the mid-2000s, choosing to work on documentary filmmaking.
Her first film was directed with longtime collaborator Abby Epstein was a breakout hit. “The Business of Being Born” is an exploration of the maternity care system in America, which offered a critical look at the modern medical-industrial complex and its impact on society.
Now, over a decade later, Lake is back in the spotlight again for a different reason – Cannabis activism.
She’s again joined forces with Epstein to produce “Weed the People” a film that truly looks at Cannabis through its health benefits – especially for children suffering from chronic conditions.v
The idea for the film came to her because of her late husband’s research on medical Cannabis, which he utilized because of several chronic health conditions.
Seeing how Cannabis helped her husband, and how it could help others – Lake became convinced that this medicine should not be a Schedule 1 substance. She’s become a Cannabis advocate by making a case for the medicinal application of Cannabis for people with chronic illness – especially children.
“Weed the People,” premiered at SXSW 2018 to rave reviews.
Rather than look at the recreational benefits of Cannabis, the film creates the argument for the rescheduling of Cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government.
“It’s not about legalization, regulation, or getting high,” Lake told Salon.com.
“It’s about children dying of cancer and the heroic docs and scientists putting their time into this…Scientists can’t do science because it’s a Schedule I drug. But [medical marijuana] has been used to treat many innocuous ailments, such as anxiety and pain, and now it’s used to shrink tumors.”