Exclusive Interview with Dana Gaier
Udoka: Firstly, I just have to commend you, the cast, and the crew of the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise, you guys did an amazing job and I truly enjoyed the movie. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, what are your likes and dislikes?
Dana: I just turned 16 years old. I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember. There’s a story that when I was 9 months, I started playing with a kiddie guitar and singing the Backstreet Boys “I want it that way.” I love singing and playing the guitar, as well as acting. I also like sports and I played lacrosse and field hockey in high school. I dislike girl drama and started a website called GYourB.org to help other teens get through bullying and mean girl drama. I think we need to stick together & empower each other instead of putting each other down.
Udoka: When did you decide that you wanted to go into acting and do you think that you would want to continue acting as a profession?
Dana: I’ve always loved acting, but I didn’t want to do it professionally when I was younger. I loved being in community theater and taking classes there. Once, when I was 5, a talent manager saw me in a pizza place and I was busy running, talking to all different tables, and she gave my mom her card to call her. At that time, neither of us felt I was ready for that kind of commitment. But years later, I decided I wanted to start auditioning professionally. Despicable me was actually one of my first auditions, and it happened when I was about 11. I love every part of performing and would love to keep doing it. If I’m not going to be performing, I would love to do something in the industry, like maybe, being a casting director.
Udoka: Who do you look up to, both as an actor and a person? Where does the drive and inspiration to act come from?
Dana: Right now, I really look up to Jennifer Lawrence. She is amazing and can play so many, different roles. She’s great in both comedies and dramas. She’s also not afraid to be herself. I think she is so real in her interviews and I totally love that.
Udoka: Do you prefer voice acting to acting in anyway? Also, how amazing was it working on the ‘Despicable Me’ movies along side Steve Carell, Elsie Fisher, and Miranda Cosgrove?
Dana: Voice acting and Acting are so different. First of all, I don’t have to memorize in voice acting, but I do have to imagine the scene around me. In acting, you are actually in the scene with other actors. When I record for Despicable Me, I record alone in the booth and I Skype with the Directors because they are working in Paris. I love both live acting and voice acting and I am hoping more opportunities come my way. Even though I didn’t’ get to record with Steve, Miranda and Elsie, I have had the chance to spend time with them at premieres. Steve Carell is the greatest guy. The first time I met him, he interrupted the paparazzi that was photographing him, just to come up to me to say “Finally. I finally get to meet you!” He made my day. He’s just so nice. I’ve spent a little more time with Miranda and Elsie because we actually had to spend a lot of time together when the Minion Mayhem ride opened up at Universal Orlando. We got to ride it so many times together. Miranda is awesome and really encouraging. And Elsie, she’s like my little sister. Love her! The first time we met, she asked me if we could have a ‘play date’ after she recorded her part. She is so much fun and we all have had some great laughs together. At the last premiere we were taking ‘selfies’ together. It was so funny.
Udoka: I read from your bio that you are in the tenth grade and you are an honor’s student, does your acting get in the way of school, and how do you tackle the challenges, if any?
Dana: Actually, I am in the 11th grade now. This year is really tough. I just started at a new school because I moved to LA, and I’m taking a lot of AP classes and honors classes and then when you add in auditions, show choir, SAT prep, and getting my driver’s license, it means a lot of balancing. But I also think that when you have a lot of balancing to do, you learn to be more efficient with your time. I’m learning to set aside certain times for certain things. I’m hoping that I am able to manage it all, but if there’s an issue, my schoolwork will have to come first.
Udoka: You are a singer, songwriter, and a guitar player; do you ever plan to pursue music as a career?
Dana: I would love a career in music as well. I haven’t had the time to write songs recently, but I’m hoping to get back to it, and get into the studio to record. I do train with a voice teacher, and I sing everyday in show choir.
Udoka: You are an anti-bullying advocate and you host your own website ‘Got your back’, why and how did you get involved with anti-bullying advocacy? Did you ever have any personal experiences with bullying yourself?
Dana: I started Got Your Back because as I entered middle school I found myself in the middle of a lot of girl drama and bullying, which I explain on the website. I decided that I wanted to use what I was learning about myself and about friendship and bullying, to help other teens. I encourage them to write on the blog, and to tell their story, ask questions or help other teens. No one should have to put up with being treated poorly
Udoka: You are still very young, but do you, no matter how cursory, have any plans for yourself, going forward?
Dana: I plan to keep doing what I’m doing: working hard at school, trying to educate others on bullying, and hopefully acting and singing. I do want to go to college, so I’m starting to prepare for that as well.
Udoka: What have you learnt from your character, Edith, on ‘Despicable Me’, and how much do you think your character can teach other youths out there?
Dana: Edith is a determined kid, who isn’t afraid to be her own person. She’s a bit of a tomboy, and what’s kind of ironic is that she loves to wear pink. I like that about her. She’s not a cookie-cutter kid; she’s different. She loves to pretend she’s a ninja. And even though she tries to act tough (and she is pretty tough), she is also a loving sister and daughter. She gets into trouble, but it’s because she’s adventurous. She is the kind of girl that other girls can relate to. Other kids can learn from Edith that it’s okay to be different, and to not be afraid to try things (but within the bounds of reason).