Actress Dayna Dooley’s path to Hollywood wasn’t easy but she’s enjoying success after 17 years in the game with recurring roles on Insecure (HBO) and The Upshaws (Netflix) in addition to starring in a web series written with her in mind called Looking For Me. Dayna discusses staying strong, finding her comedic voice and so much more on the latest Dope Interviews
Support for Dope Interviews in part comes from MyBookie.AG. Use the promo code DOPE for a bonus on your first deposit. Bet anything, anytime, anywhere with MyBookie and use the promo code: DOPE
Full show transcript below. Please be advised that the transcript is not 100% accurate and will contain errors and typos.
Warren Shaw 00:11
what’s good everybody and welcome to another edition of dope interviews brought to you by the mighty 19 Media Group. I’m your host Warren Shaw, and today we’re staying in the entertainment space. My guest today has appeared on HBO and secure part of the illustrious cast on Netflix smash the upshaw’s and is now the lead in her own web series called looking for me. We have the multi talented actor Dana Dooley, what’s the Dana How you feeling?
Dayna Dooley 00:41
What a great introduction, I feel. Thank you so much.
Warren Shaw 00:47
No, thank you. Thank you. And these are all this is all you you. And I mean, like, this is what it’s about. So here on job interviews, we keep it a buck. You know, we’re very lucky to have you here with us today. So we’re jumping right into what you’re buying into that right? You are riding a wave right now, right? This last year has been your Plus has been pretty great. A lot of great opportunities, just how are you handling that level of success and all the things that have been coming your way? When I tell
Dayna Dooley 01:13
you it’s been a journey, I graduated with my BFA in theater and oh four. So I’ve been doing this professionally for 17 years. So it’s a long time coming as well, let’s say I’m very, very, very grateful, very humbled by it. That same time, I’m like, I was asked, When is it my time father, and he’s showing up and opening doors. I am so so grateful. I am basking in it, because I don’t take it for granted. Because it’s been a very long, hard journey.
Warren Shaw 01:40
Oh, trust me, I think that story is speak to a lot of different people, you know, wherever, wherever we from race, creed, color doesn’t even matter. Everyone knows the struggle and to not give up on a passion that you have for something. And it’s it’s dope, really that, you know, you’re starting to reap the fruits of the benefits of all the work that you put into this thing, right? Yes. Let’s let’s backtrack just slightly a little bit when you decided to x and, you know, get into this field. How did you come across? Or what may comedy, maybe your niche that it is kind of is right now? Yeah, it’s
Dayna Dooley 02:12
a funny story, because I was actually a pre med major at the University of Kansas. Right? Yeah, I grew up wanting to be a doctor that was instilled in me at a very young age by my mother, would you be doctors or lawyers? So I was like, okay, Mom, be a pre med. I’m gonna be a gynecologist. That was my focus. Did I get to Kansas and all the requirements that I had to take no more science and math. I was like, Oh, no. So I’m good at this. I’m not good at this father. So thank God. Well, the way God works in the timing, I ended up coming up back to California. And I went to SMC for two years. At SMC I randomly took an elective, and it was acting and acting class with my sister. And I remember the first scene I do with my sister, um, I loved it. And my teacher literally said, This is what you should be doing. And I’ve not stopped since so I started later in life. I started in 2000. So later, I was like, oh, maybe you know, an actor. I was five I started later. Then I got out comedy was my thing. Like I could do drama and comedy. A comedy was my niche. I was very, very good at my comedic timing was kind of like, very, very, I learned very quickly. So now, that’s my thing. Comedy is my thing. I love it more than anything.
Warren Shaw 03:29
We’re gonna dive into that a little bit more, but I want to kind of go back so even coming into a little bit later, right, you know, later in life is you will, then did you have influences in that space growing up? Or did you start to gain those maybe at you know, like, in 2000 ish, sort of, so to speak. Who are some of your influences acting-wise?
Dayna Dooley 03:45
That’s such a great question. Because I grew up with I’m watching TV with my mom. And so we watched for so long there was so ball show, so Lucy was definitely high on who opened my eyes to comedy and physical comedy. Carol Burnett Show as well, all the care I’m a character actor. So watching her do all those characters inspired me to do that and um, will be Goldberg did her woman show that I walked with my mom. And that inspired me to do my own one-woman show which I did in oh eight, and did very well. And also The Tracey Ullman Show she did. So I watched all of them and they inspired me to to become what I was hoping to be because back then I’m like, oh, it’s fun. It’s great to watch, but I never thought I could do.
Warren Shaw 04:30
Yeah. Nah, man. That’s, that’s, that’s amazing. And I think you know, we all can relate to that. Watching TV watching whatever with our folks, you know, whoever our parental influences are mom, dad, grandmother, auntie, whatever the case may be, and kind of like soaking things in almost subconsciously even at times. Well, obviously, knowing that, hey, I’m learning for something. I’m going to use this later on, you know, pack this away in my back pocket for when I need it later. That’s the vibe. Comedy is such a subjective Space though, right? Like it’s, it’s a wild wild situation. And it’s, it’s what’s funny to me may not be funny to you, and vice versa. And I’ve seen you act in some very I want to call it what I would call maybe straight kind of standard comedic roles. And then somewhere it’s like the awkwardness of what you’re doing as an actor makes it makes it funny. Just how do you tap into those different aspects of comedy with it being so subjective?
Dayna Dooley 05:25
That’s a very good question. You know, I think I have about 40 to 60 people living in me.
Warren Shaw 05:34
And it’s not schizophrenic.
Dayna Dooley 05:37
At all, I’m literally, I actually live to these characters. So I have people living in me so when I have an audition, like I had danger force or hinder danger on Nickelodeon, when I went into my audition All I said was a cop, be a cop. But I go in saying, I’m going to be a black Clint Eastwood fine, what completely changed my voice so I tap into what I Dana’s characters and everything in her with would do. So I go in, I’m like, Hi, how are you? Like, Hey, how are you? It’s something I would add. It’s a it’s kind of an innate thing because I people live in it. I literally can tap into some random person that I’ve kind of thought of, or created years ago or last year, and I kind of tap into that. So no matter what kind of role I get the upshaw’s I decided to be dumb, but not only dumb, she’s gonna smile every single time she says something so she could make she makes you love her. She’s a lovable villain. And so I kind of tap in to all the crazies that are in me. And no matter what role I get, or audition for I kind of never go into a mall. I never go into stand to do is me you’ll never see me do this. Why I’m always gonna character. Yeah,
Warren Shaw 06:46
for work. And we hear that a lot. I mean, again, I’m not familiar in your space. I’ve never acted in my life. But I believe like, you know, there’s a term that’s used like calling method acting and things of that nature. And I was talking to some time ago, mark one Smith, who works on the the godfather of Harlem, and he was like, actor who plays you know, Malcolm, came in, like for the park, dressed as Malcolm came up the cab, you know, I mean, black and was ready to rock and was embodying it from the minute he walked in there for the audition, and didn’t have to get into character. He was already embodying the character. And it sounds like that’s how seriously you take your roles. And I think, what is a misnomer? Is that because it’s comedy that you can’t like, you don’t take it as seriously. It’s still a role. So job.
Dayna Dooley 07:30
Right? To go in prepared, and to go in knowing what you’re going to do. I’m not a method actor, per se. I actually can switch into it very quickly. I don’t know. But like you said, I take it so seriously. And comedic actors. They’re like, Oh, it’s going no, no, I have to, I have to be prepared to have a character in mind. She might have a twitch my Citiz certain ways might look a certain way to my stand a certain way. She might speak a certain way. And that’s me. Always come prepared, either when you booked it already or not booked it I just come in? Conveniently, I have it in my mind. Like, oh, how do I walk in? Haven’t gonna sit? How I’m gonna speak how am I gonna look at you? Or speed how I speak all of that is so important in cutting comedy to me. Oh, man, I
Warren Shaw 08:18
mean, we need to get you on which caught masterclass, you know, teaching folks how to do this thing, because you definitely, definitely do it, you definitely do it. Talk to me a little bit about the looking for me project, in your own words. It’s kind of what is this project about specifically, and kind of what drew you to it?
Dayna Dooley 08:35
Well, he flew the producer looking for me, I’ve known her for years. And I met her through one of my friends. And she saw me in my home and show and she was like, one day, Dana, I’m going to work with you. And three years later, she’s sitting I wrote my daughter wrote something for you. Her daughter is Asha flowers, the writer and director of the show. And when I tell you you just like this just just reading watching the movie would just mean my not liking it or just reading what I tell you. I read those six episodes more and they are so amazing. And they wrote it for me because I know my character they know who I what I can do. So Lisa is a life coach, and you follow her journey in this web series. And pretty much I gave her my own personal tagline she’s a life coach that needs a life coach because she’s a little she’s a lovable hot mess. She just wanted so bad because I help people so badly because that’s her that’s her passion and mission in life. Right as we follow you like oh, she has a roommate can’t pay her rent as no car. And right so She’s trying her best cuz she’s broken. But she wants to fix herself and fix others. So it was just it’s a wonderful journey and in turn in a comedic way so I bring a very kind of carefree blunt, but like absent minded miss, which I love. She’s so fun. She’s so fun. And when they approached me and I read it, and I loved it, we shot it. And I have big hopes for it. It’s gonna go somewhere I know it in Jesus name, rds, rds know it, I’m very excited about
Warren Shaw 10:12
- I definitely think it’s, it’s a vibe and you know likes kind of kind of stick with that thought process within an hour or two, because, you know, life coaches and a lot of ways they have a level of psychology or things that they’re trying to do. And sometimes it is the, the the satisfaction of helping others and maybe even help you heal on the inside. And I’m not trying to oversell it, so to speak. But I think there’s a certain level of that, where do you think this series will take us? You know, through her journey when it comes to that? Plus, how can she also fix herself throughout this throughout the course of the web series?
Dayna Dooley 10:44
Well, she actually has a mentor, like an eon that she looks up to, and in the series, you actually actually gets to meet her. And it’s funny because Lisa doesn’t have any money actually strapped, so she has to be Postmates. And so she ends up at her mentors home. And this mentor speaks into her life. And it’s beautiful, because in the black community, mental health is such a stigma, like no one wants to get help. We’re not total, we can do it on our own. You got this, we never say it’s positive, it’s a good thing to get help. It’s good to have a mentor, it’s good to talk to someone to have therapy, you know. So Lisa loves that she she finds her mentor and a mentor speaks into her life so deeply, that even in mid series, she could see a little change change by change as she progresses. You know, she’s still a hot mess, but she’s getting better better by by the by the series in this series, you can see almost not a new Lisa, but on the roads were very water. Yeah. And
Warren Shaw 11:48
that’s really why and I think, honestly, we need more feel good stories and tales out there, you know, in what we’re watching and consuming as you know, people in the society right now. So it’s nice to see sure there’s some realness in this situation. There’s some struggles or something to overcome. But eventually, I mean, there’s some positivity that’s getting out of it as well, a lot of doom and gloom on TV right now.
Dayna Dooley 12:12
You know, lovely to Lisa. It’s so fun. And right. It’s light. It’s about mental health, about life coaching, but it’s about the journey on that road. And the people you meet people choose life coach, that alone is hilarious and how she is a mess was trying to help people and change their lives around it in turn learning something and all the shenanigans on the way it’s, it’s, it’s great. I’m excited. It’s so fun.
Warren Shaw 12:37
How many? How many seasons Can’t you can do you think this can can go? I mean, life coaching. I mean, it could take you, you know, me, but as a web series as well, too, you know, I mean, there’s obviously the politics of that, too. Like, where would you like it to go? Ultimately?
Dayna Dooley 12:51
That’s a good question. I think because we all we have the first season right now, I would think the max about four, because it takes at the fourth, she could literally like maybe finally have her huge position that she wants me to have a huge clientele and kind of tidy it up at the end, but still have her you know, making mistakes learning along the way. But I would think that the Max would be about four for four seasons, to kind of like maybe she gets married, you know, maybe she has because she has a boyfriend, maybe find a boyfriend and in the end she gets married or accidentally gets pregnant, but she’s 40. So maybe, you know, things like that happen because we’re older so maybe I don’t know it different characters. Can we introduce the course every season? Yeah, but I think about four seasons would be like a good good time lapse to end it. Well.
Warren Shaw 13:41
I can see that. I can see that. We’re chatting with Dr. Dana. Billy, be sure to follow her on social media at its Dana Dooley. Let’s take a quick break and we’ll be right back. What’s good everybody it’s your boy Warren Shaw here and when I bet I bet my bookie go to my bookie and they will double your first deposit. use my promo code at my bookie and my promo code is dope. That’s D O P P dope for dope interviews, of course. And you can claim that deposit bonus here today. A lot of people think about my bookie and think it’s only about sports. And let me tell you it is not to have profits that you can utilize for movies, politics, and even current events. If you have a friend even better, you can use your referral link after you use my promo code of course, and use that referral link to send to your friends and you can receive up to 250% additional bonus dollars from my bookie. That’s my bookie using my promo code DT o p e dope. And you claim your deposit bonus here today, anywhere at any time that all the time at my bookie using my promo code. And Rabatt Karen dope interviews with the great and illustrious Dana Dooley Dana, great and illustrious facts here like I said, I don’t I don’t I don’t be as I got time to play play. We go on telecom. And if they don’t know about you, they need to know about you. That’s how I feel. Right? So let’s talk a little bit about those shocks. Right? That joint blew up. It blew up, I was watching on Netflix and no shade of the shows on Netflix and comedy sitcoms and reboots are everything that was out there. So when I put it on, I was like, alright, I’ll give it a chance. I see some black folks on it. Like I let’s see what’s good. And we was I, this this. This thing is, though, is really, though, so just talk to us a little bit about that. Did you even going into it? I mean, nobody goes to the show thinking and hoping it’s gonna flop. But did you think it would be this do this well, and have this level of response? You know, going into it?
Dayna Dooley 15:44
No, because my manager, first of all, thought to get me in the room. But for me, like, No, she’s not. He’s like, Yes, she is. And they thought and I did a self tape. And they called me in and I auditioned for one of my gifts, and Wanda Sykes, and the rest of the cast. And they’re like, Oh, I heard that night that, Oh, she got it. And the Netflix approved it the next day. So. So when you go into something like that, when it’s a new show you like, Okay, well, I don’t want a sex is amazing. My guess is amazing. is amazing, but we don’t know where it’s gonna be. So when I got on set and did my thing, they’re like, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, this show is going to be because the cast is freaking hilarious. Yeah. It’s, it’s hilarious. And it’s, and the timing. The timing of the comedic timing on this set is amazing. So I just, I kind of didn’t know, but guys that don’t say, Oh, yeah. It’s gonna be good. And it was a
Warren Shaw 16:41
big fax. And I mean, and that leads me into my next conversation or question for you is that when I consume a lot of TV, you know, just in general, you know, I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m a critic or anything like that as well, too. But you can see, I think sometimes when there’s chemistry amongst the cast, and that to me, kind of what you’re just what you’re saying, right? There seemed like there was immediate chemistry. And then that translated into the, the comedic timing into each episode, which made it so good. Just talking a little about some of the great moments you may be had on set, you know, working with the team, and so forth and so forth. And is that chemistry that I think is there? Is that really kind of what it was?
Dayna Dooley 17:16
Yeah, it’s truly a family, like, my scenes are all the Tim fields. If you guys don’t know, I play Kim fields, boss, Sheila Morrison, and I’m done. I come home, maybe I was a manager at Old Navy. But because I’m young, you know how it is in 2020 2021 people that are managers and CEOs about 2528. So they brought me in because I’m young, and I might have managerial skills. But Kim fields should have been the manager in your job, I come in, I supersede her now I’m her boss. And she’s, of course hates me. And so but when I met her, the commercial was right away. Like, of course, we play opposites. Like I play like, you know, flashy. But my firt my mentor, he was just lovable and kind and will say good job. And, and then I met Mike Epps. And then so Mike after he can feel their chemistry. And of course, Wanda Sykes, she welcomed me with open arms. And he was so kind to me and said, Dana, we love you, we’re bringing you back. And the chemistry on set and the cynicism on set. And the love on set makes this a good show. Because there’s no egos, it’s like, always have a good time and have fun. And of course, the writing doesn’t I mean, it helps the writing is great. Yeah. Family Fun said,
Warren Shaw 18:38
it really is and I think it has rewatch ability as well to even happen things that nature, it’s just, it’s funny, it’s you know, it’s, it’s real in a ways clean ish, you know, clean enough clean ish. But I really think that I really enjoyed it, the shout out to you, and I hope you know, anyone that for sure. Let’s touch on, you know, obviously, you know, one of the bigger ones obviously and insecure and your role is Shannon there and, you know, the YouTuber and so forth and so forth is seeing you posting on IG about it. And obviously to be dealing secure. It’s like this huge, huge phenomenon, I think, you know, within the culture as well to just how’d you get that role just to like backtrack a little bit and just kind of what’s your thoughts on the series, especially as it’s closing on this final season? Yeah,
Dayna Dooley 19:23
I auditioned. When it first came out, I auditioned for Molly word. Yeah, I didn’t get that. I was sad, but God has this plan. So in the years after I got to shoot for another role I didn’t get and I go in for Shannon and I tell you, they have to do it at least four or five different times in the room. So I was like, okay, but they must like me, so I kept doing me again. I wanted it as a character I went in as someone that didn’t hear was would look her up and down, like Uh huh, yeah. And just, I changed the way I do it five times. I did it five different times different ways. So I guess I chose the one that’s like, Oh, you think you’re cute? I don’t because you have all the white people around. I don’t like black black, you know? So I got the overall economy. And then the first thing I shoot, my tell you, Isa Ray is the kindest, warmest person you’ll ever meet. She, I made her laugh on set, which is amazing. I was great. I made her laugh on set and she said, Dana, we’re having you back as a shut up like no are going to bring you back like so they have about three more times I was on there four times total. And I have an episode last episode is episode eight this year. So this year, so watch out for me on episode eight. Right tell you that’s my favorite set. HBOs insecured. My favorite said isa Ray, she’s not playing when you see her on television, that’s who she is very, very kind, very sweet. Very welcoming. Humble, recognizes talent, it puts you on TV and doesn’t you know, not shy by like, oh, that you you’re gonna be back. You’re great. We love you. So I thank you for that opportunity.
Warren Shaw 21:03
So you kind of just saw some something that I wasn’t going to get into. But now I feel like maybe I got to you know, I hope you’ll be okay with a tone of a question here a little bit in your story is really like one of perseverance because now getting this role and you interviewed for insecure multiple times, so to speak, a lot of people in their regular lives might have been like, you know, eff that I’m not coming back there and they think they hide and whatever, whatever. But you persevered and kind of stuck with and now in our in a role that that really suits you just cost me a little bit more of even about that and maybe some of the disappointments that people face through and then coming through that and then still being on the project that you originally apply for.
Dayna Dooley 21:37
Right next to you. For every actress listening to this. They know it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve been doing it for 17 years, the noes are 99% of the time. Literally, the rejection is constant and consistent. It’s never like oh, it’s all the time. So an insecure said no to Molly. Of course you’re heartbroken cuz you’re like having hope and like, oh my god was series regular on a new show on HBO didn’t get it. And right, go again. Got to know. But when I tell you my skin is so thick, and I have the drive of a Mustang. I do. I will not quit. I will not quit. i My perseverance has always been like this. There are days I want to quit. My family and friends have always encouraged me support me to keep going. But the rejection comes with as a part of it. I don’t I don’t give up. I don’t stop. So then yes came for Shannon. That’s God’s time. That was the role I was supposed to have. So in this business, the noes are all I mean, I tell you, I just gotta know recently I was like, and I was heartbroken. I cried, you back up the next day and you keep going, I will not quit. If I was listening as an actor. We know it’s hard. But there’s if you love it, if this is your passion, this is the gift that God gave you don’t give up. You got to keep going.
Warren Shaw 22:54
Man, Man, that’s, I mean, that’s real talk right there. Yeah. And I mean, and I think that we can turn this interview into some sort of inspirational TED talk, I think as well too, because there’s a lot there’s a lot to that and I think some real life lessons you know in that space for a few more before that you get back to being you know, being great and being amazing as you are just talk to me a little bit about even off offset. How does how does Dana do? How do you relax? Like how do you just chill kind of a wine and, you know, kind of just take it easy?
Dayna Dooley 23:24
That’s a good question. People don’t know that even though when an actor and actors are supposed to be extroverts. I’m an introvert. So I love to like literally what I’m doing set or have a day off. I sit on my couch, and I watch movies. What I left all like that is my recharging. Relaxing zone. Like I can just sit and watch movies. And to me I’m learning my craft. So watch people I love like Meryl Shubin, Angela bass, I watch their movies over and over again, Kate Winslet to learn but I also relax by just kind of like getting lost, you know, in the story. So that is my favorite thing to do. I also love karaoke. I can’t do it now that like no one has karaoke. Because you know, it’s dangerous. I get it. But I miss it so much. I don’t ever use my birthday. And I knew this year, but I went karaoke, I would hang with my friends like a happy hour at my girlfriend’s hanging with my best friend who’s my sister. Like, we would go to her house and like watch the amas together, we have the best time together. That’s a good relaxing time with her always because we can talk about anything and everything for hours as an actor as well, so we can get that by how districts yes industry how difficult it is. And she encourages me not to give up and I encourage not to give up. So my non working days I’m relaxing by the TV or I’m hanging with friends and family.
Warren Shaw 24:49
Nice, nice. Well, hey, I’m trying to get you out of here. But I got to ask these other questions right. So real quick. Go to Song karaoke.
Dayna Dooley 24:57
Oh fever by Peggy Lee word Yeah,
Warren Shaw 25:01
give me a sample go oh are you ready to rock?
Dayna Dooley 25:09
Around me? Yeah, I’d like I would I tell you, they’re like Dana saw the video. I know I love karaoke.
Warren Shaw 25:23
I absolutely love it. I love it. And you talk about some of the shows and movies and things that you that you tap into, you know, every actor actress, they have kind of like a dream role, or maybe a show that you’re like, I really want to get on that. And as you said, Let’s make some things into existence. There’s something there’s our project, you like, my ball, and if ever something ever opens up, I want to get there, or is there a dream role that you’d like to play?
Dayna Dooley 25:45
My dream role is to have my own show like Tracy Ullman. So I’ll be the black Tracy. Oh, man, I don’t have my own show where I do a million characters on HBO. That’s where I’ve always wanted to do. Yeah, Carol Burnett slash Tracey Ullman Show, I get to show what I can do. I literally, I have written out about 45 characters that I can do. And so I want to do that. That’s my, my main goal. I used to be SNL cuz I do characters as well. Yeah. But on my own show, I want my own day to do the show where I’m able to show the world, my characters, the characters that God has given me. They’re hilarious. They’re men, women, white, everything, and they’re, they’re great. And I just want to share, so that’d be my dream role.
Warren Shaw 26:28
Ah, I love it. And I think honestly, Dana, if this last year is any indication of like the star that is rising and continued to burn for you, I think that shows gonna come into existence one way or another, I think. No, thank you. I think this has been an amazing conversation. I want to thank you, Dana, for joining us. It’s been my absolute pleasure. That’s all the time I have for today that she has today. She’s got to go back to being great.
Dayna Dooley 26:57
Wait, tell them the way to watch the show.
Warren Shaw 26:59
I’m sorry, go ahead.
Dayna Dooley 27:00
Yes, so you can watch looking for me on a BFF play.com. You can run a search only takes five seconds then you just go and watch called looking for me on a BFF play calm. And you can go to my page, Instagram it Sina Dooley, on Instagram. And on my bio, there’s a link you can vote for us as well. fan favorites are both for us looking for me as a web series. Please vote, please watch and support black women, black women, directors, producers and actors. So
Warren Shaw 27:30
I think that’s extremely well said and I will double down on that I saw you know, the first episode, it was amazing. I was cracking up. I shouldn’t have been laughing that hard. But you know, I mean, she rocked it for me. So she said make sure you go into the American black film festival playlist. Hit that up looking for me and give her all the support that she deserves in the great team behind this amazing, amazing project. Big shout out to my guest, Danna Dooley, be sure to check out the web series looking for me as we just said, fall down on social apps as our app is Danna Dooley, and I think we’ll be seeing that as a you know, a TV show you know, pretty soon gonna be a Vive. I’m your host Warren Shaw. This has been dope interviews we thank you so much for joining us and we’ll definitely catch you next time another dope interview thank you so much thank you much.