From behind the camera to on-screen star, Dani reveals how she became a successful freelance actress and writer

How did you get your job?

I never thought anyone would pay me to be in front of the camera so I went to university to study behind the camera, as I was interested in producing good stories.

After university, I worked at an advertising agency and then, through mutual connections, I got a three-week trial as a receptionist at a post-production house in Soho. I impressed them so much that they offered me a permanent position in their new building.

After three months I was itching to move up, but five months later with no promotion I knew I had to go.

While working at the post-production house, I met people such as Dustin Hoffman and Ewan McGregor and asked them for advice. They told me that because I was still young, I should go for my dream and give it until I was 30. If it didn't work out by then I would still be young enough to try something else, so that's what I did.

I auditioned for an acting convention in Paris, got through, took part in the convention and I have been working professionally ever since.

I've been in programmes such as The Bill, Doctors, Eastenders, Sky's The Runaway, Gates and London Live's Brothers With No Game. You can see all my acting information on my Spotlight page.

Subsequently, I became a playwright and I recently won a screenplay writing award with The British Urban Film Festival and Channel 4. I'm now making plans to move to Los Angeles.

Self-belief is crucial in this business

How relevant is your degree to your job?

I believe my degree in media production from the University of Lincoln was relevant. I got to understand what things are like behind the screen and that helped a lot with my TV performances and in my writing and producing of plays.

I use transferrable skills I learned from my degree such as:

  • organisation;
  • scheduling;
  • teamwork;
  • leadership;
  • communication;
  • researching;
  • public speaking.

What are your main work activities?

There is no typical working day in my job, which is why I love it.

Monday, I could be an actress on the stage; Tuesday, a writer sitting in the Barbican; Wednesday, leading a workshop in a school on how to be successful, or on set in Japan for five weeks filming a TV drama.

Auditions, acting workshops, director meetings: it's always different.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I particularly like the fact that I can create work from my mind, and touch and affect people through my acting and my words.

The travel, the interaction, the massive pay cheques and the good I can spread with it are also great incentives.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

The challenging times used to be when I had no work and was sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. But now this is where my writing comes into play, so I'm always being creative.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I will be based in Los Angeles and the UK and I will have taken part in numerous successful TV dramas and comedies. I will have been in a major blockbuster trilogy and have a TV drama and comedy of my own commissioned on TV in the UK and the USA. I will also be the executive producer on at least one of them.

I will have written top ten hit songs for artists and will have won more prestigious awards for my efforts. You heard it here first.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Self-belief is crucial in this business. If you look to others to validate you and your worth, then I suggest you don't bother with this career. It's something I have had to learn the hard way.

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