Secret Agent L
She secretly strikes Pittsburgh with random acts of kindness then documents them on one of the web's most fun, fascinating, inspiring sites.
Ever find one of these? If so, you've been the fortunate accidental target of Secret Agent L.
Photo by Jonathan Wander
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Photo by Jonathan Wander
CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post, Glamour.com … a lot has happened to the once-anonymous Secret Agent L since Pittsburgh Magazine first published our story about her (see page 2) in our July 2010 issue. On the 24th of that month Secret Agent L held a party at the Firehouse Lounge in the Strip District to reveal her true identity to her many fans.
In a dramatic entrance, music thumping, a spotlight shining on her back, the slender, 6 feet tall model/actress in secret agent-style trench coat, black hat and dark sunglasses walked through the parting crowd. On cue she turned, revealed, and was overwhelmed with warm applause and shouts.
At that moment, both nerve-wracking and exhilarating for her, Laura Miller did not imagine what her post-reveal life would become. Local television news was first to launch the wave of publicity. But it was a CNN interview on August 4 that brought worldwide attention.
“The public's reaction has been absolutely incredible,” Miller says. “My website has gotten almost 100,000 extra hits since the August 4 CNN interview. It seems that every couple of minutes, someone is on the site,” Miller says. “Plus I've received well over 2,000 emails and only two of those emails were hate mail. Not too bad! The other emails were all from people wanting to become Affiliated Agents, people deciding to follow me on Twitter, or individuals just simply stating how much they love the project.”
At the “Hello SAL” reveal party, which donated proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Miller revealed more than her own identity. She also singled out the person she calls her “Number 2,” the Robin to her Batman, friend and co-worker Vivian Lee Croft, who’s been helping Secret Agent L with her “missions” since the beginning over a year ago. At first, Croft wasn’t keen on the idea of giving up the anonymous nature of the project. “There was something about the anonymity that I particularly loved,” she said. “But the more we discussed the reveal and how it might help bring awareness not to the project per se, but the role of doing good things and doing them without the desire for reward, the more I came around to it.”
Laura Miller after revealing herself as Secret Agent L.
Photo by Johnathan Wander
Croft says she’s “in awe” of what’s happened since the identity reveal. “Neither of us really had an idea of how much this project would blow up. It's phenomenal but it also a little hard for me to wrap my head around,” Croft said. But she adds that it’s not the media attention but the personal element that’s moved her the most. “I'm most overwhelmed with all of the comments surrounding the need for something like this, for something so genuine that could put a smile on someone else's face. To that I say, you don't have to be involved with the project, just be a conscientious human being. When we hear from those who have been touched by one of the missions we or the affiliate agents have done, that is the most gratifying part of this project for me.”
Like Croft, Miller feels that the Secret Agent L project has given her more than she’s given others. “I can't even begin to express how blessed I feel. I've met the most beautiful souls, I've had people share with me some pretty amazing stories about their lives, and I've been contacted by media outlets I never imagined would contact me,” Miller said. “And I even got to fly in an F-16 with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. It's like I'm living in a dream. But most importantly, it's really shown me that there is some fierce love and kindness out there. We just have to open our eyes and hearts to give and receive it. And nothing, nothing tops that.”
In her original interview with Pittsburgh Magazine, Miller said, “I am in love with Pittsburgh in a way that I don’t think I can put to words.” On September 14 the City of Pittsburgh officially loved her back, officially proclaiming it “Secret Agent L Day” in the city she adores.