Laurel has a BA from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a Performance Studies/Art major. She has also studied painting and sculpting at UCLA and The San Francisco Art Institute. Laurel's love of painting came early in childhood and continued in college, but took a backseat to her acting career after she was discovered in a production of "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" in New York, playing the 15-year old Mick Kelly, which received rave reviews from The New York Times.
In addition to Laurel's artwork, Laurel is known as an actress and humanitarian.
She is a strong supporter of Doctors Without Borders and has donated several of her paintings and drawings to be auctioned for charity. In September, 2009 Laurel donated a sketch to Bark, an organization that helps protect and restore Mt. Hood, which sold for $10,000. Also in 2009 she donated 5 additional paintings to be auctioned for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. In May, 2010, Laurel donated a painting to be auctioned at an event for Sewing Hope (a Fount of Mercy program), an organization that helps African organizations provide educational and vocational opportunities for orphans, vulnerable children, and caregivers.