Updated: Jan 28
Welcome to the latest edition of Monument's Get to Know series! Here we interview Dani Gibbs, Indianapolis actress and one half our dynamic duo starring in the upcoming production of Dutchman by Amiri Baraka. Already establishing herself as one of the up and coming young talents in the area, Dani has been seen recently in Fonseca Theatre's Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies, Jesus Christ Superstar and more! Continue reading below to find out some fun facts, her professional philosophies, and her approach to such a daunting and historic role as Lula!
MONUMENT: So it begins. We must know - what is your favorite color?
DANI GIBBS: Periwinkle!
M: Favorite food?
DG: I love a good grilled cheese.
M: Favorite article of clothing?
DG: I recently bought a yellow sweater and I adore wearing it. Or my ridiculous Mamma Mia style bellbottom jeans!
DG: I don't, but I've considered getting a line from Our Town.
M: What's the line?
DG: At the end of the show when Emily asks the Stage Manager if anyone truly lives each day and cherishes every moment, he answers “saints and poets”. I’d get “saints & poets” to remind myself to live each moment and savor time with people you love.
M: Favorite weather or time of year?
DG: Spring or Fall. I love a light breeze.
M: Do you enjoy sports?
DG: I grew up in a hockey rink, so I love hockey since I actually understand it.
M: Well hockey's badass. Do you follow a certain team? There are wrong answers.
DG: The Pittsburgh penguins is the family team! I haven’t followed them closely recently, but always rooting for them.
M: Eh... fine. Coffee or tea?
DG: Coffee, because I'm not a morning person but I have to be to make money. Plus I've worked at several coffee shops and got addicted.
M: Cat or dog?
DG: Cats. I'm just more comfortable around them. But I have a friend who has a dog I would die for.
M: What kind of dog we talkin' here?
DG: A darling obese chihuahua named Mo.
M: If you had to guess, what's your spirit animal?
DG: A ragdoll cat. They're bred to have really loose joints so they just flop around and sleep a lot. It's also my patronus.
M: That... that seems like it would be in a horror movie. Moving on! What are some hobbies or interests of yours we might not know about?
DG: I bullet journal as a way to stay artistic even when I'm busy. I try to theme each month off of a show I'm doing or book I'm reading. I also love finding new recipes to try.
M: What is this bullet journaling of which you speak?
DG: It’s a form of making your own calendar/planner/date book! So I make a page each month to keep myself organized.
M: Ok. What do you do to relax?
DG: Scroll Tiktok (I'm an adult, but I have a lot of younger friends and siblings and have to stay hip), watch Netflix, or just sit quietly with people I trust.
M: What's your go-to on Netflix?
DG: 'The Good Place', 'Stranger Things', any John Mulaney routine, and recently 'The Dragon Prince'.
M: Well 'The Good Place' is fantastic. Dream Vacation?
DG: Greece. I love Mamma Mia! and it looks so gorgeous and fun. And there's a movie called 'My Family and Other Animals' set in Greece that my family quotes all the time.
M: I thought maybe you were gonna wax poetic about the Grecian origins of theatre but... fine. That's fine. Do you have a favorite author or poet?
DG: Neil Gaiman. I love the breadth and variety of his work, the way he engages with fans, and his perfect blending of enthusiasm for living with the grim reality of how hard living can be sometimes.
M: What about a favorite actor?
DG: I saw Amber Gray when she was on Broadway with Great Comet and I was mesmerized with her ability to control the room seemingly effortlessly. What a storm of a person. I'll also watch pretty much anything Tom Hardy does.
M: Yes Tom Hardy is as superb as he is mouthwatering. And on that note: who is a hero or inspiration of yours?
DG: Neil Gaiman, again. I admire his ability to give himself time for his art, while still seeming to be a very involved husband and father. He seems very secure in who he is, and very considerate.
M: Lovely. What do you admire in people?
DG: A giving spirit, and the ability to love even when it's hard.
M: And what do you despise in people?
DG: Selfishness, and petty cruelty.
M: What charms you in a person?
DG: Usually inside jokes. And gentleness.
M: Where are you from?
DG: A cornfield in New Castle
M: When did you develop an interest in theatre?
DG: I was a mermaid in Peter Pan when I was 5, but Mrs. Lenig's Shakespeare class/theatre troupe got me hooked in 6th grade.
M: When did you decide you would pursue it professionally?
DG: College? It's just sort of happened.
M: ...what happened in college?
DG: I knew I wanted to major in Theatre, but I think I assumed I would find a “real” job somewhere along the way. I still haven’t found anything that excites me like Theatre, so I’m working at it.
M: Evasive. Well, whatever you do, stay on stage! What are the kinds of stories you gravitate to?
DG: I've done a lot of different sorts of shows, but I want to feel a personal connection, or a reason to do the show. Even if it's something silly like "I loved this show in college."
M: What are some examples of shows you feel a personal connection to?
DG: I did Jesus Christ Superstar last spring, which was really special for me because I discovered the show in college and I’ve listened to it so much. To get to sit backstage and hear the iconic opening jam session each night was amazing. We also were fortunate enough to open on Easter weekend, and the Good Friday show was extremely special to me. I also did Singin’ in the Rain last year, which is a family favorite. I grew up watching the movie and quoting it with my siblings, and it was a dream to get to perform the iconic songs. As a huge ABBA fan, getting to be in Mamma Mia! was amazing. I just like doing shows I’m passionate about.
M: What is the effect you want your work to have on the audience?
DG: I want audiences to feel more alive than when they came to the theatre. I want them to have something to discuss on the way home, and something that hopefully stays with them.
M: What draws you to Dutchman?
DG: I actually studied the show in college, and was really struck by it. I can remember where I was when I was reading it. It just really grabbed my attention and made me want to dig into it more to try to understand it better.
M: Lula is an iconic villain. What about portraying her excites you?
DG: I'm definitely intimidated, but I think I'm most excited for figuring out what makes her tick. When I studied the show before I didn't feel like I had a satisfying conclusion, so I feel like I have unfinished business with Lula. And who wouldn't want to play a beautiful mess of a villain?
M: What struggles have you had in embodying a character like that?
DG: Self-doubt has been my main struggle. Like what if I'm misunderstanding or misrepresenting? And it's hard to play such a confident character when you don't feel very confident in your choices. I'm definitely leaning heavily on trusting my cast-mate and director to try to balance that fear.
M: To date, what has been your most gratifying theatrical experience?
DG: All of them have been really fun or satisfying, but I think I'll always look back and think of things I wish I had done differently. Probably playing Clementine in Hooded; or Being Black for Dummies with Fonseca Theatre Company last fall. I loved that crew and felt like we were doing good work, theatrically and socially.
M: Lastly: one hundred years from now what would you like to be remembered for?
DG: I want to be remembered as a good friend, someone who was always there when you needed her.
Now you know Dani! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe to out newsletter to stay up to date on all our latest posts, events, and job announcements!