Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Interview: Dana Davis — The Rewards of Perseverance

Dana Davis, who has been entertaining audiences for three seasons now as Carmen Phillips on “Franklin and Bash,” the ex-con, tough-girl private investigator who has helped her partners, the aforementioned Franklin and Bash, out of more than one tight spot. You may also recognize her from various guest-starring and feature roles on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Gilmore Girls,” “Heroes” and “The O.C.” And soon you’ll get to see her in the Syfy adventure series “High Moon.” When I spoke with Dana recently, she told me all about life on the “Franklin and Bash” set (which recently got word of a fourth-season renewal), and how excited she is for fans to see her in this new Syfy series.

Celebrity Extra: Looking back at your body of work, you’ve done so much already, and you’re only in your 30s! It must be quite an acting education in itself to have such a varied and exciting resume to build off.

Dana Davis: It’s definitely rewarding, fun and a lot of hard work. There are times I look back at my resume and I do remember the struggle of it all, but there is a balance. You know, pleasure and pain. I realized that I had 300 auditions in one year. I had 300 auditions and I did three jobs. It’s pretty grueling, but definitely rewarding.

CE: Now that “Franklin and Bash” has been renewed for a fourth season, let’s talk about Carmen. When you first got the call about auditioning for this role, what did you think about her?

DD: I always like bringing a fresh prospective to a character. I remember when I first got the script for “Franklin and Bash,” I called my agent to say I didn’t think I’d be able to do this. I didn’t feel I was right for the part. But they knew I’d be missing out on a great opportunity. They told me, “Dana, we insist you go to this audition because we don’t think they know exactly what they want.”

The part was initially written — I don’t want it to come off wrong here — but Carmen was literally written as a super-tough and rough lesbian. I have no problems playing lesbians. That wasn’t the problem for me. The problem was the stereotype; I don’t like playing roles that are stereotypical. I like to invent something fresh and something new. So when I saw it, I was like, “This is not me.” But my agents encouraged me. They were like, “Go in there and make it your own.” And so I did just that.

CE: If I recall correctly, the show, as it is now, doesn’t really touch on her sexuality.

DD: Yeah, it’s not that she’s not a lesbian, it’s just something that was never talked about anymore. They ended up not going with that story line, that direction.

CE: Tell me about Carmen.

DD: She is the assistant to Franklin and Bash. She has kind of a shady past. They bailed her out of it and wanted to use her street smarts to their advantage. I always joke to our producers and say: “If we had the budget, I imagine Carmen would be jumping out of planes to get information. Or under a moving train.” She is able to get things that other people can’t get. She has a kind of brother/sister relationship with Franklin and Bash, which is so funny, because I feel like when you have someone as attractive as Mark-Paul Gosselaar, you think, “Why don’t they hook up? What’s going on?” But it’s not like that; they’re family.

CE: And in real life, it’s not like you date every person you find to be attractive.

DD: Exactly! Even in our own lives, we have guy friends, and we have girl friends. Some of our guy friends are extremely attractive, but we’re not attracted to them. So, I like that element of it that they have a family-type bond. And it’s just too fun working with Mark-Paul and Breckin Meyer, because they’re really, really funny, so I’m just dying laughing all day long on the set.

And I respect them so much. I’m such a big fan of Breckin. He’s so talented and so quick on his feet. I’ve never seen someone come up with such hilarity. It’s amazing to work with people like Breckin and Kumail Nanjiani, because they’re so hilarious — and they’re not even trying. It’s really nice working on that show.

CE: Tell me about “High Moon.” From what I’ve read, it sounds like a very interesting and fun new series.

DD: “High Moon” is Bryan Fuller’s new project. It was written by Bryan and another writer named Jim Danger Gray. And as you know, Bryan Fuller has done “Pushing Daisies” and he’s doing “Hannibal” right now.

CE: That right there tells me it’s gonna be a good one!

DD: Bryan’s amazing and so talented. “High Moon” is a pilot, which could go to series. The way Syfy does things is they shoot it as a movie of the week. It will be picked up in the next couple of months if it is going to series. If it doesn’t go to series and the network passes on it, it will still air as a movie of the week on the Syfy channel. The story is based on a book called “The Lotus Caves.” And it’s about colonizing the moon and mining it for its resources and discovering life on the moon.

CE: This sounds like it would be a really fun project to be a part of.

DD: Oh my gosh. When I first read the script, my heart kind of stopped, I was so excited. I called my people and was like: “This is it. This is the show. I love it.” I’m a huge sci-fi nerd. I was super excited about doing something like this because it goes back to my childhood of watching episodes of “Star Trek” with my mom and that sort of thing.

My character, Yama, is the daughter of the general of the American Army on the moon. She is the first and last kid ever born on the moon. What they discovered was her being born on the moon actually affected her skeleton and her ability to walk. She’s not functional anywhere else but the moon, which is why she’s the last kid born on the moon. She can’t actually leave the moon. She has this dream of going to Earth someday. It’s the thing she wants so bad, but she can never have it.

CE: Tell me about your children’s show, “The Wish i Mayz.”

DD: When my daughter was born, she was born with something called infant anxiety. It’s not very common. But I literally could not put her down. If I put her down she screamed and panicked. I found out that music was very, very soothing to her. I found she had favorites, even as an infant; she loved Chopin and Michael Jackson.

As she grew, I saw that music was so important to her and how it helped her overcome the anxiety. I realized that with the music that is currently in children’s programming, we are underestimating our kids a little bit. Children have a palette for more. I know that they enjoy the simple songs and the ABC’s, but I thought it would be wonderful to expose them to an evolution of music. And so I got the idea for “The Wish i Mayz.” It’s about three aliens from the Star Planet who speak only in song, and that’s how they teach the kids on Earth the fundamentals of music.

I started to shop the idea around town, and many people became interested. I’ve got a writer on board and producers, and we finished our script and our pitch packet. Right now we are pitching it around town. I’m really passionate about it, and so many people love the idea. But right now, it’s in the beginning stages.


  1. I am so proud of you Dana and keep up the good work my younger cousin!!!!!!

  2. Dana, that is amazing and really very proud of you and you encourage me at 60 that if you want anything bad enough, you will work hard and deal with the pain that comes along with which will turn into success and well worth it!! Good job and congrats and what a role model you are for all ages!!!