Before landing a role as Monica on Heroes Dana was a big fan. Her and her friends would have Heroes nights and her quote on her myspace page was "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World."
Dana can't dance.
Dana admires Denzel Washington.
Dana is 5 feet 1 inch tall.
Dana is a skilled violinist and attended Loyola Marymount.
She was a singer with a group called "Necessity."
Dana: I'm really, really down to earth. I'm from Iowa – born and raised in Iowa. My idea of a good time is to play Nintendo with my niece and nephew. I love hanging out with my friends and having game night. Me and my friends will have our traditional game night and play Scattergories and crazy things. I'm just not the typical… I don't like going to red carpet events and getting dressed up. I just would rather take a walk, go hiking. I'm so normal. I'm too normal. Going to the red carpet events and stuff like that… I should do that more. But I always would much rather make it a Blockbuster night.
Dana:(On her first acting experience) I was just mesmerized by it. I asked her, how can I do that? She signed me up for these little theater classes. I auditioned for my first play when I was seven and got the lead – and I've been doing it ever since…. I just remember having this connection to characters, even as a little kid.
Dana: Believe it or not, when I came out here, I was like – comedy or bust. That's all I wanted. That's really my love, comedy. I have sort of fallen into this drama thing – that's what I've done mostly – but comedy is my favorite, favorite thing to do. A lot of people have dreams of being film stars. I really want to get onto a sitcom and be there for ten years. You get that family unit. You get to have that normal life, as well as being a part of the industry and doing what you love. So that's my dream. Comedy's my dream. Drama just won't let me go.
Dana:(On entering "Heroes" in the second season) I felt like a senior in high school and it was your second semester and you had to change schools. That's how I felt. It was kind of stressful. I wanted to prove myself and make myself known. But I was the new kid on the block, so it's hard. The cast was really, really great – and all the producers. Everybody was very welcoming. So really – it was just my own thing. I was nervous and it was hard. I came into it as a fan. I had such respect for the actors. They'd already established themselves as something amazing and great. You come into it and you have to establish yourself too. They have a high standard on the show. I wanted to live up to that expectation. Now that it's been a while, I'm having more fun. The nerves are gone and now I can just go to work and enjoy the moment.
Dana:(About her character on "The Nine") It's hard, because I was playing a character who was young – she was sixteen. I just think a child's perspective on that is going to be a little bit different than the way an adult would take it. I think God makes kids a little bit more resilient than adults. So it was difficult – especially because I loved my cast so much and I wanted to laugh and joke with them, but sort of had to go to that dark place whenever I was at work because my character was so burdened. A lot of times I kind of checked out. Just really focusing and trying to be really true to who Felicia was. It was challenging.
Dana:(On why "The Nine" was cancelled)I felt like The Nine was marketed as a bang-bang-shoot-'em-up cop hostage drama. Really, it wasn't that. It was a story about people. I think it just didn't find its audience because of that – it was marketed towards men and really it was a show for women. So it never found its audience. I was disappointed, but I felt really good about the thirteen episodes we did. I made life-long connections. To this day, I keep in touch with Chi McBride, Owain Yeoman who played Lucas. Nothing but great things came from it. I look back on it as wonderful. I'm sorry it didn't last longer, but for what it did last I think it did amazing things.
Dana: I think that I would like to not only inspire people, but maybe give a little bit of truth to someone's story. Sometimes I'll go to see a movie and it'll touch me in a way that it stays with me for years. I don't know if that's ever happened to you, but you see a movie and for some reason it stays with you. I hope that I can do that. I can stay with people. I can make a difference. I can show someone something that makes them feel something. Even if it's just feeling okay with who they are or who somebody else is – it's just a medium where you can touch so many people and I hope that I can do that.
Dana: I think the Sci-Fi thing is just this phenomenon. Sci-Fi fans don't get that often. You get Spider-Man and you get your Superman VI, but that comes out once every two years. With Heroes, you get it once a week. I think that's awesome for the fans. That's one of the things. Another thing is just this visit into this surreal world. Life can be hard. You've got dramas and your own stresses. You get this chance to escape into this world that isn't reality. It's fun. I think that's what's so great about it.
Dana: I came out here in 1997. I started auditioning in '98. I didn't start looking consistently until 2000. I literally went years without getting one part. I would go to hundreds of auditions and I never got anything. I started to get frustrated… but I never questioned what I was meant to do. I just sort of told God, if this is going to take ten years – I'll be here in ten years. If it's going to take twenty – I'll be here twenty. I'm not going anywhere. I sort of got comfortable, even not booking things. I was like; well I'm still going to audition if they'll have me. So by the time 2000 and 2001 rolled around, where I started to get things like Boston Public and The OC and things like that, I had waited long enough. I eased into it and I was so ready for it when it started to happen.
Dana: I auditioned for Gilmore Girls so many times. I remember they actually sort of wrote that part in for me, because I auditioned so much and they loved me and couldn't quite find a spot for me. So they brought me in an episode where Rory was having some dating problems. I think it was a Valentine's Day episode. She and Paris needed advice. I was the girl at school who knew all about love and romance. They kind of cornered me at lunch and I gave them all this advice – at like 100 miles per hour. It was just so fast on Gilmore Girls. You have to talk really fast. The director was like, 'Dana, let's do it again, but faster.' I remember being like – oh my God; I can't talk any faster than this. Then they brought me back for another episode as the same character, who just sort of was showing people around the campus.
Dana:(On pursuing acting and singing at the same time) Acting is sort of taking over. It really started off as a joint thing. I wanted to do both. I came out here to mostly pursue acting, but I studied music. I play the viola. I played for like twelve years. And I got my degree in classical voice. So music has been a huge part of my life. I just sort of haven't had any time to devote to it lately. Acting has sort of taken center stage in my life.
Dana: Prom Night is a teenage/slasher movie, set with a backdrop of the most awesome prom, Hollywood style you can imagine. There's a slasher on the loose, there's blood it's just fun. It's just pure fun. I got a chance to see a rough cut and it turned out good and I'm really, really proud of it. It is what it is but I had a lot of fun doing it.
Dana:(On if she got scared during "Prom Night") I always wondered if people who shoot horror movies get scared, and you do because the actors are so great. There was a scene where we're on an abandoned floor of a hotel. They made it look like a construction site with hanging plastic tarps and dripping water, and I had to run around with my shoes off. The slasher got into his character so much that they would say "action," and he would walk around with a knife and get this crazed look in his eyes. I was totally scared.
Dana:(About her high school prom) When I was a sophomore, someone asked me to prom, but I got out of it. I always had these excuses lined up, a way to get out of prom. And my junior year, I had my lie all worked up, so I got out of it again. But my senior year, I was working on the musical "The Wiz." I was playing Dorothy, and the guy who was playing the Wizard of Oz asked me in January, so I didn't have my lie worked up. He caught me off guard, so I was like, "Uh, okay, I'll go." He was really good friend of mine and we had fun even though I didn't want to go. But there was no romance, unfortunately.
Dana: I'm a girlie girl now, but when I was younger, not even. I was like, 'Dress? No, I'm not wearing a dress.'
Dana:(On her role in "Prom Night") I play this girl named Lisa who happens to be Brittany Snow's best friend. Lisa is the most popular girl in school, homecoming queen and prom-queen candidate.... She's the kind of girl who's popular for a reason, because she's a blast and fun and so sweet to everybody. Let's just say Lisa is a fighter.... It's more of a thriller. Sure, there's a slasher on the loose, and lots of blood and whatnot. But it's set with the backdrop of the best prom ever. I mean, imagine the prom of all proms. This is prom Hollywood-style, with designer dresses and giant confetti cannons, glitz, glamour and blood.... Sounds like a winning formula to me!
Dana:(On if she watched "Heroes" before she landed a role on the show) I was a loyal viewer yes. I actually watched "Heroes" before anyone else. I got the pilot, because you know actors we get these, we get huge stacks of pilots from our agents... And I watched it over the summertime and I was just like, oh my gosh. And I remember calling my friends and being like, "I have the newest hit comic." And they're like really, and so they came over and we watched the DVD that I had and it was like a ritual, it was a like a Monday night ritual with Heroes. So it was just like so surreal for me to join the cast, you know what I mean? Something I'm a huge fan of so.
Dana:(About her training for "Heroes") Oh my God. You know, I was kind of thrown into it, just like I showed up for work. And they were like, "Guess what Dana, we're doing this." And so it was really hard on me because I came from it - like out of shape. I mean, I'm an actor, you know? And I don't even work out. I'm just like, you know, my idea of working out is going upstairs in my apartment. And so I had to do a lot of physical things right away, like the double-dutching and doing a lot of the karate. And I spent a lot of my weeks really, really sore at first. And so sort of have gotten into it now and I have a stunt double who works with me. And we're starting to work out, and they're starting to, you know, with some karate training. So at first I was just like blindly, just like here you go. But now it's gotten a little bit easier and the preparation is a little bit more.
Dana:(On what she'd do with her character's power from "Heroes") I've always wanted to slam dunk and I've always wanted to impress, you know, the boys in my family and stuff like that. So I got a little nephew, too, and he loves NBA. And I'm fascinated with their athletic ability, so I'd definitely get that.
Dana:(On her "Heroes" co-stars) I've also had a chance to work with Sendhil who plays Mohinder, and oh what an amazing, amazing guy, I mean you know Sendhil's this beautiful like he looks like he should be a GQ model or something and you'd think he'd be like the bling, bling Hollywood-type guy, but really he's just a sweet family man with like this heart of gold who talks about his family and his child and I mean, just never have I met in reality the whole Heroes cast, never have I met such down to earth people. I thought was going to go into this, you know, with these you know, these stars and these, you know, these big heads that you hear about in Hollywood, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Dana:(About her co-star Noah Gray-Cabey) Oh man Noah is like, I love that kid. Like he is like the little brother I never got. I love him to death. I mean I have a little nephew who's 12 and so on the set Noah and I, it's just like we're just having fun and it's interesting because I'm the kind of actor who when I get into a role I sort of really get into it and a lot of my characters have been kind of sad and burdened and so now that I'm playing this fun loving character on the set, me and Noah are just like laughing, talking, we're getting in so much trouble. The other day we just got yelled at by the director because we're laughing and joking around and he's like "Dana, Noah, please." And we're just, it's so fun to work with him, you know. I think I'm like, you know, 12 years old at heart because me and Noah, he's like my best buddy now and the little actor who plays (Damon), his name is (Carlon), I just love him. We'll sit at the table on the set and we'll play with cars and we'll have arm wrestling fights and people are like, "hey Dana how old are you," you know. So, I have a lot of fun working with those kids. I love them to death.
Dana:(On how she started acting) My Mom took me to the theater for the first time when I was six years old and I was just amazed by it, and I just said, "Hey Mom can I do this too?' And so she signed me up for little theater classes and I remember my first audition for a play when I was seven years old was for "The Thankful Elf" and I remember all the little kids getting up, auditioning for "The Thankful Elf" and I'm sitting there like, no, The Thankful Elf would not say it like that, and I just knew, I knew who the Thankful Elf was and so for my first audition I booked the lead as the Thankful Elf and so I've been acting ever since. I used to ask my Mom when I was ten years old, can we move to L.A., please, please. I would look in the Chicago Sun-Times because I'm from the Midwest and I would look for auditions and I'd be like, "Mom, there's an audition in Chicago, can you take me?" She'd be like, no you got to wait, wait, because we just didn't have the financial resources for me to do that. And so I waited until I was 18, I went college hunting when I was 16. I was on a mission. Like I knew what I wanted to do when I was just a little girl so.
Dana:(About her character on "Heroes") Monica gets pretty tough. As far as whether she will be with any other heroes in some cool fights, we can only hope. I really can't say right now. But, I can say that you will see a lot of her fighting. It gets pretty exciting Monica is going to go to a place that no hero has gone before. It's going to be really fun to see her story unfold because it's something that's not been done on Heroes yet. It'll be very fun. We're sworn to secrecy. Sometimes [Heroes spoilers] get out, but we try to keep as much secret as possible
Dana:(On playing a Katrina victim on "Heroes") I have to say in the beginning it was, because when I did my research, I watched some documentaries about Katrina. I'm the kind of person that when I see someone crying I cry too. I take on that emotion, so sometimes I run from it. And when I got this part I couldn't run anymore. It really made it real to me, because you know, Heroes is so surreal and it's fun. Bringing in this element of reality, it was hard for me. So I have to find a way to kind of put it in a box so I could play this fun, upbeat character. But I think it makes the character more real.
Dana:(About her character on "Heroes") Monica is so bada**. It's cool to think of superpowers, like invisibility and mind-reading, but if you really think about it, God has blessed human beings with some serious gifts and abilities. Most of us "normal" human beings will never be able to slam like Michael Jordan or run like Carl Lewis, so imagine a human who can do it all. How exciting! The sky is the limit with Monica. Lots of fans are wondering if she'll watch any martial-arts movies, and the answer is yep! She'll be doing lots of martial arts and even a little parkour action, to give just a few hints.
Dana:(On why her role was written out of "Heroes") Heroes didn't get the same critical or fan acclaim in season two, so I think the creators felt a lot of pressure because the ratings dropped and it wasn't nominated for any Emmys. And with the strike, I feel like the writers had a lot of time to sit around and think. They wanted to come back really strong and go back to what the show was in season one - less drama, more action. And they took it in a different direction that didn't really include Monica.
Dana:(When asked if her character would have a large part in "Heroes" third season) Well, I would just say to fans of Monica's, I don't want to disappoint them, but her storyline wraps up fairly quickly.