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Rising Star Michelle Danner: “Be Patient.”

I would like to enlist a group of artists, actors and go into hospitals, nursing homes and tell stories, sing songs with elders and inspire them to tell us their stories.I also would like to bring together a group of celebrities, animal lovers to open shelters for animals, especially the ones that are about to […]

I would like to enlist a group of artists, actors and go into hospitals, nursing homes and tell stories, sing songs with elders and inspire them to tell us their stories.

I also would like to bring together a group of celebrities, animal lovers to open shelters for animals, especially the ones that are about to be euthanized so we can find a home for all of them.

These are on my vision board and I hope to make them come to life someday.


Asa part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Michelle Danner. The craft of acting is as alluring as it is mysterious, and it takes a being of great passion, insight, and determination in order to succeed. But to teach acting — to inspire creative souls to successfully harvest those tools — requires an even greater commitment, to bring out the best in each and every actor one encounters.

That passion is the hallmark of the career of filmmaker and acting coach Michelle Danner, for decades one of the industry’s most respected teachers, and now a successful director who continues to grow and expand her creative universe. “The important thing is to keep growing as an artist, to keep raising the bar for yourself,” explains Danner.

Michelle has taught acting for the last 29 years and has worked with many A-List Actors privately and on set including Chris Rock, Gerard Butler, Seth MacFarlane, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Penelope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Common, Salma Hayek, Chris Martin, James Franco, Christian Slater, Zooey Deschanel, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Coolidge, and many others.

For Danner in 2020, that means anticipating the release of the supernatural thriller “Bad Impulse,” while prepping her next feature, “The Runner” starring Cameron Douglas. That’s in addition to running her weekly acting class, keeping watch over the conservatory programs at the Los Angeles Acting School (which she co-founded), directing a play starring Anne Archer at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, or cheering on her two high-school-aged sons as they pursue their own passions.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up in Europe, my father was a producer and he was asked by the William Morris Agency to be the president and open the very first offices in Paris in 1965. I remember hiding under his desk and watching many celebrities come to meet with him from Edith Piaf to Sammy Davis Jr, Benny Goodman, and Julio Iglesias amongst others. Our home was always full of artists, lively conversations and entertainment. I always was an avid book reader and started to write and mount plays in school and what I mean by big is that I cast all 80 students in the school. I did a big adaptation of “The Queen’s Necklace” by Alexander Dumas in High School. I was at the same time one of the beloved students because I created a play with so many involved and the most disruptive one because in the process of mounting it I revolutionized the school.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Since my childhood, I was always fascinated with story-telling but what cemented my passion for it was 2 performances that I saw as a teen in New York, one was Kathy Bates in “Night Mother” by Marsha Norman and Jennifer Holiday in “Dreamgirls”. Both of these performances changed my life and moved me to my core. And I knew that not only did I want to but absolutely needed to express myself in this deeply emotional, authentic way in all my work to come.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I created an art center in Santa Monica, 2 theaters and an art gallery from scratch, the Edgemar Center for the Arts and inspired Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw to give us a large donation to build it. Looking back at it now I have no idea where I got the energy, the guts, and the patience that it took to make it happen.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started directing, my first movie “How To Go Out On A Date In Queens” one of my main actors could not come to the table read and there was a very specific tone to the story, the writing. And when he came to shoot the scenes, he was in a whole other movie. In hindsight, I should have taped the reading or rescheduled so he could be there. I don’t know how funny it was but it was a big lesson.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I just finished a movie called Bad Impulse with great Cast (Grant Bowler, Sonya Walger, James Landry Hebert, Dan Lauria, and Paul Sorvino) that will be showing at the Chinese Theater at the end of February as part of the Golden State Film Festival and I just finished principal photography on “The Runner” with Cameron Douglas, Edouard Phillipponnat, Elisabeth Rohm, Nadji Jeter, Kerri Medders, and Eric Balfour. I am about to start editing next week. I’m very passionate about these projects and learned a tremendous amount on each one of them.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is crucial for audiences when they come to see plays, movies or tv shows. In every medium, we hold up a mirror to our society and get them to understand something human about beings. And life is diverse and multicultural. If our children don’t see themselves represented the impact is that they feel less than so whether it’s in big action movies like marvel or smaller independent projects the mirror that we hold up has to be real and what’s real is that we are a melting pot of all different cultures and it’s important that different nationalities and ideologies be represented and if they’re not our children, their children will not see themselves having a rightful place in the world being able to overcome obstacles in their lives. We want people from different backgrounds to share their stories, the more unique, powerful and moving perspectives we can have the better.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

The most important idea is of working harder, I think of this often in the morning hours when I work on a project that I’m passionate about.

Don’t be entitled, nobody owes you anything, you have to work for it. I always remind myself of that one when I have the voice inside my head saying” it’s not fair”.

Be patient, we always want things very quickly, including me, every time I have taken my time to complete something it always comes out better

Follow through, finish the work. I’ve left things dangling and they have come back to bite me in a ferocious way

Communicate. if you’ve had an important conversation, record it, send a text or email confirming it. recently someone told me that I never agreed to something then I did on the phone and I didn’t have the backup for it.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Pick the battle that you want to fight, you can’t fight all of them.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to enlist a group of artists, actors and go into hospitals, nursing homes and tell stories, sing songs with elders and inspire them to tell us their stories.

I also would like to bring together a group of celebrities, animal lovers to open shelters for animals, especially the ones that are about to be euthanized so we can find a home for all of them.

These are on my vision board and I hope to make them come to life someday.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My sister Valerie helps me along every way. When I was little and my mother said, I was about to have a sister. She brought her home, I wanted to throw her out of the window and I think I attempted to several times 🙂 Little did I know back then, the gift that was handed to me. My sister teaches me on a daily basis to be in the moment, to ask all the questions and to never leave a stone unturned.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My dad said to me “Stop rushing, stop running the fast track. You’re going to get there anyway and it will be more enjoyable” I try to aspire to that very wise advice. I always find myself forced to run in the fast lane, partly it has to do with the multi-tasking, juggling work and family but when I stop and focus on one thing and see it through, I see the rewards of not rushing so much.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

From a very young age, my idol has been Barbara Streisand, Funny Girl, Funny Lady, Hello Dolly and pretty much all of her movies have been favorites of mine. I’ve attended her concerts several times, listened to her music and she would be on the top of my list. Her talent on screen and live is infinite

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: Michelle Danner

Instagram: @michelledannerla

Twitter: @actingclassla

Website: www.michelledanner.com[email protected]www.edgemarcenter.orgwww.cinemaattheedge.com

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Thank you!!!

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