This week I met up with a good friend from high school, Courtney. It is always a good time when you are with Courtney, so I was honored to get to see her while she was in town! She is an actress who lives in New York, and she let me ask her a few questions. I also met her aunt Rev. Marilyn, who was wearing a beautiful caftan-style dress. I would love to have a dress like this because of the freedom of movement it allows. She purchased it at the Black Clergy Woman Conference. (A picture is posted below.)
Name: Courtney Daniels
School: American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). New York, New York
Major: Musical Theatre
When did theatre begin to interest you?
It all started when I was 8 years old, and my father gave me the Grease VHS. The minute I saw it, I wanted it 70 times in a day, literally I watched it for 12 hours. Rewinding and pausing, rewinding and pausing. And that is when my parents decided that I wanted to do something with the arts. So, they decided to
give me all these Gene Kelly and Fred Astire MGM and Turner Classic movies. I watched all of them and learned them.
Then, I began doing community theatre, and then school plays and musicals. Shortly after, I started doing internships and the Play House Square Center. Anything thing that had to do with art, I picked it up. When I was 8 years old we went to Disney World. While other kids wanted Mickey Mouse’s autograph, I brought my own “headshots” and resume, which was paper with a heart drawn on it and said “hire me”, but no references on it.
So instead of receiving an autograph from the Disney characters, I gave them my headshots and resume hand made by me. That’s when they knew that I wanted to be in the spotlight, that was the spark.
While attending AMDA, did you perform in anything?
Yes, I actually broke the rules. You are not supposed to audition the first three semesters at my school. I auditioned the minute I got to the city, which meant that my first job was a workshop. This is when you are working on a new musical. It was called “Disenchanted: Bitches of the Kingdom,” and I play Princess Tiana. I left school and came back. Then, I booked another show in school, and had to leave and come back.
I would say I booked four shows within my time; it took me four years to graduate a two-year conservatory. I recently finished a 10-month contract with Disney cruise line on one of their newest ships, called the Disney Dream. I played the characters Rafiki and Ursula, if you’re familiar with those.
What was your favorite part of being on the Disney Dream?
My favorite part was the completion bonus that I just received.
What has been your favorite show so far that you have done?
I would say The Drowsy Chaperone at Flat Rock Playhouse in North Caroline. I played the role for Trix, the first black aviatrix. I loved that show so much because I got paid a lot to do so little.
What do you have planned right now?
I have an agent appointment in the city, to get representation to get further ahead in my career. I have many auditions to conquer when I get to the city.
Can you tell them about your infamous Ursula costume?
First of all the costume (right) is two parts. There is the skirt and there are the tentacles. It takes three people to put on the tentacles. It’s a whole routine they do. It is a very heavy costume and you have to have training before performing in the show. The class is called Ursula Orientation. They teach you how to walk in it.
There are two strings, one of the left and one on the right that are used to move the tentacle. There are bands that you put on your hands to move the other tentacle. It is a whole routine that is choreographed to work the costume. Because the costume is so big you can’t just come on stage through he curtains, you have to come from the trap room under the stage on a lift to come upstage. The Trix costume (top) is like a regular aviator costume, but with propellers that mechanically moves. So I had a miniature plane attached to me. Which is kind of hard to move it, but me made it work.
What do you think of the style in New York?
I love the styles in New York. I think they are creative and expressive. I feel ever borough has a different style. I feel if you live in Manhattan I feel that you dress more tailored and like Zara, but very colorful. I feel if you live in the East Village you dress more like a hipster. Big glasses, combat boots and hats with feather in them. I feel like if you live in Brooklyn you dress move like an Indie person. Less color, more simplistic. And if you’re in Harlem, baby, baby, baby. You’re wearing bight pink, bright orange and skinny jeans. You’re just out there, making a statement.
So which borough most describes you? Why?
I would say the East Village. I love vintage clothes, and it is filled with vintage boutiques.
What are the differences between New York and Ohio?
Ohio: Birkenstocks, North Face jacket, lucky brand jeans. There is not a lot of individuality in Ohio as there is in New York. I can truly go into anybody’s closet and find the same thing.
PHOTOS: (top) The Rev. Marilyn in her caftan-style dress
(middle) Courtney in the Trix costume (bottom) Courtney’s Ursula costume
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