Ink Tone Swep Images Vince Trupsin Looks Lassalle Asst Looks Gala Lee Hair Shawntá Johns MUA Erik Torppe Location Vince Trupsin Studios, Los Angeles, CA
You have starred on Kniqht Squad, brilliantly I will add, since the popular Nickelodeon series first aired around this time last year. And though we love you in the Astorian princess role, many see you as poised to be Hollywood’s next breakout big screen star. What valuable experiences have you gained starring as Ciara that have prepared you to tackle future lead roles?
Being able to play such a strong female role has taught me so much on and off screen. Just being on set and working with so many different actors every week, you pick up new things and get ideas.
What types of screen projects are you now drawn to, interested in?
I really want to be in a drama or Rom Com (romantic comedy). I know those two are very different but I have a love for both. I feel an indie film would be a great experience, especially if it’s a role that makes me strip down to just raw emotion.
Your personality has so much range, you have a very diverse persona which makes you relatable to so many from different walks of life. How did SoCal, and your parents, and life, shape such an interesting individual?
I grew up in Fullerton, California. I loved it there because it was far enough outside LA, but I didn’t know anything else either. I joined a musical theatre group when I was about 12 or 13 and that was the first time I’ve ever experienced people looking at me differently because of my race. It really took me back because I’ve always just been Dani, then I started to get labeled and was very confused as to why the color of my skin made me “the coolest black person they’ve met” and that I was “okay for a black person” – that was eye opening. I was already on the shy side and that kinda made me hide in my shell even more. My mom raised me to have tough skin and told me to be the best Dani there is and don’t listen to what people say because there’s always gonna be something. I also feel I’ve been through a lot just growing up that showed me the real world and what life is actually like, and being really young and learning that, I feel it really helped me personally; just really being able to embrace who I am and not be scared because at the end of the day the only thing you have control over is yourself.
To what do you attribute your open minded, outspoken approach to sharing your perspective? It’s refreshing, your honesty, but rare because we live in a time where strangers can openly criticize the thoughts we share.
I feel times have been changing nonstop. People are supporting people taking a stand and I love it. There are people who just put their opinion in on everything and try to make points when it’s something they’re not passionate about. Of course you’re always going to have an opinion, but I only speak out – especially publicly – if it’s something I truly care about; because I can talk for days (Laughs!). So if I’m passionate, that’s when I’m going to be the most honest.
In a previous interview you shared the difficulty of being accepted as a mixed-race actress in Hollywood. Is this a case of being considered too-black for one role, and yet, not black enough for another? Please elaborate if you would.
Well, growing up in Fullerton I was just Dani until I was about 12 and experienced people judging me based off the color of my skin. So in Orange County I was looked at as just “the black girl” but when I started acting and getting into social media, I started getting told I’m not black at all. I’m multiracial – I’m not just one thing. I’m a mix of many.
You always seem upbeat, positive, hilarious, and thought progressive. That energy is contagious, and your ever-expanding fanbase is evidence of that. What is your “Happy” regimen? You seem dedicated and determined to be that, happy.
I feel like everyone has something that brings them down, some more than others. Personally, I’ve been through a lot – from getting told to kill myself, racial slurs, etcetera. Just because of a breakup (even to this day), dealing with two deaths in the family in a month – that had a very big impact on my life, and just being a teen there’s a lot of emotion sometimes that can overcome me and that’s completely normal, but since I was little I’ve told myself everything happens for a reason. I strongly believe in manifestation, so being around things, people, just doing what you love keeps me up.
Your birthday is June 13th. Mine, too. You’ve been doing this Gemini thing for going on 19 years, Dani. Are we Geminis as wonderfully crazy as we’re so often said to be?
I’m very into zodiac signs and reading horoscopes. They’ve never let me down. Honestly, anything you Google about a Gemini is 100% true, at least for me.