Lara attended Central High School and won a scholarship to Vassar College where she began a major in Philosophy which she completed at Southwestern at Memphis (now called Rhodes College), receiving her B.A. She attended graduate school at the University of Iowa and completed all course work on a Masters in Speech and Drama.
The summer she was writing her thesis, she acted at the Millbrook Playhouse in Loch Haven, Pennsylvania, where she played five leads in six weeks. She decided to try her luck in New York City, and the second week she was there she was cast as Angelique on Dark Shadows, a show which has become a cult classic. While she was in New York, she appeared in a Broadway play, Woman Is My Idea, and two off-Broadway productions – Lulu and A Gun Play.
Lara is married to Jim Hawkins, a contractor and builder, and she has three children: Rick, Andy, and Caiti. Rick Parker is a successful record producer, Andy is a contractor and Caiti Hawkins is a set designer and stylist for videos and commercials.
In the Summer of 2011, Lara and three of her Dark Shadows co-stars – Jonathan Frid, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott – travelled to England to film cameo appearances in the new Dark Shadows feature film from director Tim Burton.
Lara and her husband live in a house they designed and built on a mountaintop in the Santa Monica mountains.