Good afternoon, YouthMundees!
Our team at IVA is committed to achieving equity, inclusion and to ensuring that underrepresented voices are seen and amplified across the board. IVA stands in solidarity with Black communities across the globe, and we will not stop taking action until full freedom, respect, justice and social and human rights have been achieved. It’s only by learning, listening, improving, working and standing together that we can realize the positive change that we so desperately need to see in our country and the rest of the world.
At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re extremely excited to feature the endlessly ambitious, Danielle Brissett, an emerging actor based out of New York City!
Born in Brooklyn to a mother who she describes as, “a woman who endlessly supported me and taught me that a great education is imperative to succeed”, Danielle Brissett was born with an unyielding drive and work ethic. Danielle was first introduced to her passion, acting, in her middle and high school years. During her adolescent years, while she was honing and exploring her newfound craft and talents, Danielle encountered “an acting student who [her] acting professor and class favored immensely”.
However, in her senior year, Danielle was accepted into Pace University’s prestigious acting program, while their favored classmate hadn’t received one acceptance from any of the theatre programs she had applied to. Danielle was thankful for this early experience with humility: “[The experience] taught me that you have to believe in yourself, and when you do, your drive and focus will speak for itself. You can’t let other people’s opinions affect you because you could be blocking your own blessings in the process.” Since graduating from Pace University’s inaugural acting program, Danielle has participated in a plethora of plays and musicals, and even more recently, some films she’s looking forward to coming out!
What inspires you and your creative process?
I am inspired by the art of acting itself. It is something that I truly love doing and getting the opportunity to do it inspires me. I love being a part of a well written and unique story that makes me think. Life itself inspires me. As an actor, you can only get better as you experience life. You start to relate to your characters that you portray because you may have had some of the same life experiences that the character have. You start to understand the humanity of your characters. Like they say "art imitates life" and if I have the opportunity to be in projects that reflect today's society, that is what inspires me. Seeing other actors who truly delve into their characters to the point where you almost forget that they are acting. When you see this, it is a truly unforgettable moment and seeing that inspires me towards my own acting journey.
What is the connection between your art and social justice? In short: my connection with social justice is using acting to shine a light on it. I was the lead in the play, “Virgin and Child: Requiem Mass of the Maternal Rite” by Marcus Dargan, which focuses heavily on social justice. It was inspired by a study, in which they found an extreme high death rate among black mothers and infants compared to any other demographic. It illustrated the fact that black women and infants may not have been receiving the same care in hospitals as the women and infants belonging to other demographics. I was proud to be a part of a play that elaborated so honestly on the experience of a black mother.
What inspired you to acting? What were the challenges you overcame in this?
I first started acting at 10-years-old. My elementary school had a drama club that piqued my interest, so I joined. Our first production was “Guys and Dolls Jr.”, and, honestly, before the show, I had never thought about or considered taking up acting.
However, after our run was over and I stepped off the stage, I knew that I was meant to be an actor. A younger student came up to me and asked for my autograph, which totally suprised me. I saw then how my performance had actually impacted her. I also saw how acting could affect someone's life, even if for just a moment. It's funny I chose my career at the age 10 and I never looked back. It's as if God was guiding me.
One of the challenges I faced at the beginning of my career was finding out how to get work without having an agent. I overcame this by researching how to find auditions on my own. Being an actress in NYC, I had to find out about Equity open calls and how to get seen for auditions without having an Equity card. It's all about learning as much as you can about the industry and discovering what resources are available to you.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists?
The most rewarding part of being an artist for me is getting to see the end result of a project that I am a part of. From analyzing the script to developing my character, I get to see how all of that impacts my portrayal, in the finished project. When I am doing a play, I love interacting with the audience and also getting to talk to them during the talk back. I also get to see how they enjoyed the play and what questions and thoughts that they have about it.
One of the reasons that I love theatre is because it is often a conversation starter that gets everyone thinking. I love that in talk backs we can have a genuine one-on-one connection with the audience.
My advice for future artists is to get good training in your field. This is a necessity. Stay focused on what you want to achieve. Keep going, create your own opportunities and network. Find out who you are as a person and don't let your desire for success change your morals.
Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging artists like you?
Go to their performances. I can't stress that enough. Support your friends and show up to their performances. There is a funny meme going around social media referring to the lockdown due to the pandemic. The meme says "Stay home like you do when your friends invite you to their performances." That statement is so relatable. Whether or not you can attend your friend's performances, support them on social media, share the flyer for the event on your Instagram and other social media. If you know your agent is looking for new talent to put on their roster, refer your fellow artist. If you have a family member of color who wants to be an artist, support them and encourage them! There is already enough rejection in this business.
My mom has always been supportive of me, she never once questioned me or tried to get me to pick another career path. To this day she supports me wholeheartedly. Keep in mind: artists of color need your support.
Be sure to follow Danielle's Instagram to stay updated on all of her upcoming theater and film projects!