Dane White is now the second Enterprise profilee to be revisited and updated. Dane has been busy of late mounting his own one-man show, titled “Born Lucky”, which chronicles his first year living in Los Angeles.
I had the pleasure of seeing “Born Lucky” last week (along with a one-woman show by Rati Gupta titled “Not Another Teen Solo Show”) and cajoled Dane into meeting up with me again to talk about it. While there’s only one more performance of each on August 18 at the Little Modern Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard, Dane has greater plans for this project.
What was the genesis of Born Lucky?
Since I last interviewed with you, things have been slow. I was getting depressed. I was not satisfied where this was going. I do the actor’s classes, I do the workshops, I submit for all the crap and it’s not going anywhere. I was spinning my wheels. It was like, “You don’t understand. I’m talented! Why am I not on TV?”
Right now I get called in for roles where I’m either not goofy-looking enough or not handsome enough. I fall in that middle category. I would have had lots of work in the 80s and the 90s.
So what could I do to help myself? I started writing and filming videos to put online such as a mock Chevy Prism commercial, which appears on Vimeo.com.
Then some guy I did improv with was doing a one-man show class. I thought, “Let’s do that.”
It turned out to be a writer’s workshop. I never thought of myself as a writer and I’ve never really written anything before. He was like, “What’s the idea for your show?”
I was like, “Excuse me? I thought we were just going to learn to do a show.”
“No, this is a writer’s workshop. What are your ideas?”
“Uh….I don’t know. I kinda have this story.”
I told him this drunken, funny story. He was like, “It’s a good story. I don’t know if it’s a show.”
Then I thought about this one thing I did write. I brought it with me because I didn’t know what to bring. I told him about it.
He was like, “That’s your show right there! We haven’t heard about that.”
For the next ten weeks, I’d write three pages a week, bring it in, get notes on it, rewrite it, bring in another three pages, put it all together and here I am.
The show has really funny moments, but you also get pretty deep at a certain point in the show. Was there any hesitation to go “there” with the material?
The only hesitation I had was asking my ex for her permission to tell the story.
I was a little nervous about it all at first but I tend to share everything with people that I shouldn’t anyway so I don’t have a problem going “there”. It helps me get it out therapeutically. I do go “there” every night and it is hard to go “there” and I’m exhausted every night but I don’t feel bad about sharing. I like to share.
When all is said and done, if anyone takes anything from this show, then it’s worth it.
Have you thought about what might have been had that situation you talk about in your show gone a different way?
I think about it a lot. I don’t know what I would have done but I know I would have figured it out. I had that in the show at one point. I had a moment where I said, “I don’t know what I would have done but we would have figured it out together.”
I’m glad I took it out because, as you told me, that aspect of my character – even in all his “douchebaggery” – came through anyway without having to beat it over the audience’s head.
What’s the next step for you after this one-man show?
There’s actually a Part Two to this show that I’m going to write. My plan is to trim the first part down, write a second part and then take a lot of the notes that I have been receiving from people about the first part, incorporate them into the second part, tie it all together and just do a full show by itself without an intermission.
The second act will be about how I lost control of my life for a year-and-a-half. It’s my unraveling. I got worked. It got bad.
The ultimate theme of this show is not what about my acting career. It’s about why I am so afraid to fail and why I am so afraid to succeed. It’s about how all of the drinking, partying and staying with a woman who clearly was not right for me was because I was too afraid to actually put myself out there and give it a shot.
By the end of it, I’ll get the message and you’ll be like, “Yay!”
What is the timeline for this part two?
I have to get hip surgery because I tore some ligaments playing soccer so I will be down for six weeks. No walking. I’m going to try to churn it out then. What else am I going to do? It’s not like I have to research it. I know what happened. I just have to come up with a way to do it in a nice theatrical way that tells a story and adds to what I already have.
I’ve been getting GREAT feedback from people. I didn’t think it was going to be as well-received as well as it is.
I’m really proud of it. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out.
After you mount the full show, where would you like it to go?
I don’t think the piece has reached its full potential. I’m getting a response from people that I care about and it’s like, “You have more here than you think.”
The whole time I thought why would anybody watch this show and here I am getting great feedback. I’m like, “Who cares if this happened to me?”
And people are like, “We care because this happened to you and you care about it when you tell us.”
I’d like for a casting director to come and see and go, “This kid can act.” Even though I’m playing myself, I’m still playing a character. I’m still committing to moments on stage that aren’t there. I’m having conversations with people that aren’t there.
I would like somebody to say, “Let’s call this kid in. Let’s maybe represent him. Let’s give him a shot at something more.”
We’ll see what happens.
Pie in the sky, where would you like this to go?
I went to Broadway for the first time last month. I had never been to New York in my life. It was a great experience. I got to see the excitement of it and the theatre and the reverence they hold for it.
If that’s the pinnacle of theatricality, then that’s what I want that. Realistically, I want to get a six-week run where somebody outside of my world, like a theater, promotes me and gets people to come.
I’d like to see where it goes. At least you get to bring booze into my show.
What about a national tour?
The national tour of the Dane White show? If I could support myself doing it, yeah.
How about a film?
I would make a film out of it. It would make a good film. I don’t know where it would end or where it would start. It would probably start earlier than the one-man show – before I moved to Chicago [from Missouri].
I’ve had two or three people say I need to make it into a movie. Why not? I’ll do whatever.
How do you feel being on this side of having done a one-man show?
Relieved. It’s exhausting. And I get so nervous beforehand. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this nervous since I was a kid. I always get nervous before shows but this is a different kind of nervous. I have no one else to depend on. There’s no crew. It’s just me up there for forty minutes holding my own and you’re either with me or you’re not. Plus, it’s hard to try to bring people out.
I’m glad I did it, though. I learned a lot about myself. And it’s nice for people to see there’s more going on with me. My girlfriend knows it, you know it, my friends know it but the world at large doesn’t. Yet.
Below are excerpts from that first interview with Dane that was originally posted on February 24:
1. When, where and how did you decide to become an actor?
I fell in love with it when I was a young lad. We had a senior program in high school where the older kids would come into the elementary schools and they would mentor the students. I was fortunate enough to be mentored by one of the senior guys in theatre.
He mentioned to the class that he was in this show at the high school – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and to come check it out. I found out the brother of my neighbor across the street was an actor. He invited me to go see it. I go and I’m just blown away by it because the guy was well beyond a gifted high school student. You don’t think that talent like that would be at a high school show. He sings professional opera now.
I was like, I want to do that. I want to go up there and do that stuff. I wanted to be that guy that can take over a room and entertain and have them leave happy.
2. What, for you, is the draw of acting and performing?
It just gives me so much joy. When people describe “being in the moment” when they’re up on stage, it’s not necessarily that you go to this other place. It’s just there’s nothing else but what you’re doing.
I love that feeling of just doing it, hearing the laughter or, when I’m watching something that I’ve done, watching other people’s faces. Whether I’ve done a good or bad job, I’ve changed them in a way. Art can leave a lasting impression on someone. I’m still talking about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as one of my top favorite musicals because of what it did to me as a 5-year-old.
That’s why I like doing it. And I’m selfish. It makes me feel good. I’m an attention whore.
3. Do you gravitate more toward comedy or drama?
I do comedy because it’s easy. For some reason, I hear the music in it. Comedy is music, comedy is timing. If you have to choose, are you going to write right-handed or left-handed, I’m going to write right-handed because that’s what I’m good at.
That’s comedy for me. I fall into it. I understand it. Drama is the hardest thing for me but deep down inside I yearn to get up there and do Hamlet.
Unfortunately, I don’t look like that. Before you can do those kinds of things, you have to show that you can be whatever they see you as. I fit those comedy roles because I don’t take things very seriously in general.
I’m very light, I’m very jokey, I’m very easygoing so I get cast in roles like Goofy Boyfriend or Romantic Comedy Lead. I’m Goofy Office Worker. That’s fine and dandy because I love to work no matter what I’m doing and that makes people laugh, but we all have that yearning to do it all.
4. What is your dream role or type of role?
I don’t know if it’s been written yet. Maybe I’m going to create it. Maybe I’m going to write my greatest role. Maybe you will. Maybe it will be a Shakespeare play that is turned into a movie. I would love to play Antony.
I know I’m talented enough that if I’m seen by enough people, I will have success. They will see what this guy’s got to offer.
5. How do you approach a role?
I work from the outside in. I got to play MacDuff in high school but it wasn’t until I got to put on the costume and carry the sword that I started to feel it. So I like to get how this person walks, how he moves, how they speak, how they think. Once I get that I work on the words.
I work on it to the point where I stop thinking about it. It just comes natural. It flows out of you. And then you can go into that part where it’s like now do it like a silly man, do it like a crazy person, speed up, slow it down. I can play. I can gauge the other person -- really listen and take what they’re giving me and give it right back in a way that’s different each time.
Once you feel completely comfortable with it, there’s nothing you can’t do. You can adjust. Then it’s just a dance. I really like that part of it.
6. What do you draw upon to find a character?
My own life. Finally, I’m at an age now where at least I have some life experiences to draw from. I’m not 20 years old trying to play 35-year-old characters that have lost their wives and children and have no way of really understanding that. I can emulate it and I can try, but at least now I draw from myself and I draw from my director and we work together to create it.
7. How do you describe your style of acting?
I hope it’d just be good, but shocking is a better answer because if people underestimate me as much as they do, then they see me going above their expectations.
I get this a lot – “You’re really good. I didn’t think you were going to be that good.”
I can see why they’d say that. I’m a goofy guy. I don’t come across as someone who takes the craft as seriously as I do, but when you see it you go, “That was so much different than I thought you would give.”
And I’ll take that as a compliment. It’s a little bit of a slight, but it’s a good slight.
8. Who are your professional inspirations?
I’ve always loved Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. Edward Norton. They make great choices and I would love be able to make great choices. You must make wise choices when it comes to work. I’m sure everybody wants to make the best choice, but we’ve seen a lot of people not make the best choice for whatever reason it may be.
Ryan Gosling is so hot right now. I’d love to have his career. I did some research on him and he’s been working since he was a kid. There was this huge span of nothing and then one little thing here like The Notebook and then years later, BOOM.
Patience is one of the things. You just learn patience, patience, patience. It is a virtue. I don’t have a lot of it.
9. If a production was casting for a "Dane White" type, what would they be looking for?
They would be looking for a very nice, handsome, joyful, kind and charming person with a little bit of spice. Very light-hearted. Very emotional. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and I tell people way too many things that they shouldn’t know.
A lot of people often think I play the dumb card or the goofy card, but people that know me know I’m very intelligent. I’m very educated. And I hope that that’s something that they would write down, but that would be a long breakdown.
Dane White’s “Born Lucky” has one final performance on August 18 before breaking to write the second part and putting together a full show. Stay tuned.
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