Interview With Stuntperson/Actress Danielle Burgio

By Ruth on December 29, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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Because of my association with the Artemis Film Festival, I am drawn to women who have a stunt background, and that is exactly why Danielle Burgio caught my eye. While she has diversified herself immensely (as you will see in this interview), I initially asked her for the interview because of her action-packed background. She happily agreed to answer a few questions for me about her entrance into the entertainment industry, her incredible versatility, and even a bit about her recent and upcoming works.

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RH: What inspired you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry ?

DB: I honestly can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. From the time I was five, I was putting on my own plays and dance routines. I love storytelling.  I think it’s the art of imagination that is so intriguing to me. Whether it be my creation or someone else’s, there is nothing better than seeing it come to life.

0009740-r1-001Please tell us about how you became a stuntperson.  What was your favorite stunt to perform?  What was your most challenging one? 

My intro into the entertainment business was as a dancer. After moving to LA to pursue more film and TV, I was introduced to a stunt coordinator who loved working with dancers because of their discipline and coordination. The right place, the right time and a willingness to throw myself into a brick wall quickly became a new and unexpected career for me.

Because of my dance background, I love doing fight choreography and wire work. However, what I love the most about being a stuntwoman is that every stunt is new and unique. It’s been a real lesson in facing my fears and realizing we are all capable beyond what we give ourselves credit for.

ChoreographyAwardsThe most challenging stunt? Hmmm. There are so many! I’m going to go with the time I had to jump from one building to another, about five stories high. The tricky part was the character barely makes the jump; her foot slides to the edge of the roof and she catches herself with her arms, then pulls herself over the edge. It was a real adrenaline rush but…spoiler alert….I made it 😉

As a stuntperson,  what kind of training schedule do you maintain? 

It’s really important to stay strong and agile. Over the years I have found different ways of doing that without getting bored. In my early years, I did a lot of martial arts and gymnastics. Now it’s more Pilates, hiking and hip hop.

003_vam_cAs you have also moved into acting, how did that happen? What was your first job as an actress? 

My first real professional job was in Starlight Express on Broadway. At that time I was working as a dancer and actress. Once the job closed, I booked a couple episodes of The Cosby Show, which was my first straight acting gig.  Always an actress at heart, I moved to LA with stars in my eyes with the intention to pursue that full-time. I took a pretty major detour into the stunt world which was a surprise to myself and all who know me. Now after many years and successes, I have been putting more energy toward the love I have for acting.

tw183What have been a couple of your most memorable roles or fun roles? I am sure there have been many, but what stands out?

I did a couple of episodes of 24 while I was a HUGE fan of the show. That was super exciting! It’s been a lot of small roles in big shows and big roles in small shows. All of them are wonderful and one of my favorite aspects is working with so many actors I admire. The most difficult part of the job is booking the role; once that happens, it’s all a dream come true! Oh yeah, then there was that time I got to play a zombie on AMC’s Walking Dead web series…that definitely stands out.

img_1539Recently, it looks like you’ve done some writing, producing and directing in addition to being an actor. What caused you to head that direction? 

There’s my love of storytelling again. I am such a fan of filmmaking and wanted to take a crack at it myself, so I came up with the idea for my first short film, Lucy Falls. I learned so much from that…mostly that I had so much more to learn. {laughs}  It totally kicked my ass, was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and just when I thought I’d never do it again, I decided to do it again and ta-da…now we have Girl Trip. After that, I swore it would be my last, but I’m already in the works on the next one. I guess you can say I got the bug. Definitely more to come; each one gets bigger and better.

MILPlease tell us about Lucy Falls and Girl Trip. Where did the idea for each film come from?

Lucy Falls is about a small-town girl in an abusive relationship who finds the strength to make a change through her friendship with a seven-year-old boy. I love stories that center around women finding their power and I liked the idea of showing a character who might normally be seen as a victim, but to show how that is so often a misconception. Lucy is anything but a victim; she is just a girl who made some bad choices and needs to find the strength within to prevail. As a stuntwoman, it seems an action film would have been the obvious choice, but I wanted to tackle a story that was more character-driven. That being said,  it seemed silly not to have at least one good fight scene 😉

Next up was Girl Trip. After tackling a heavy subject, I thought it would be fun to do something completely different. People don’t normally see me as a comedian, but I do love to be silly, so I decided to challenge myself. And boy did I! They say “Dying is easy, Comedy is hard.” I haven’t tried dying yet, but they may be right.

Reno911!Girl Trip was inspired by my two best friends and our crazy annual trips that always prove to be full of surprises. However, once I started writing, it took on a life of it’s own. It’s about three friends, each with their own unique ticks, who head to Joshua Tree to celebrate the full moon on a summer solstice. When they arrive, one strange occurrence quickly escalates into a comedic nightmare.

What are the benefits/challenges to directing, producing and writing?

For anyone in the biz, especially as an actor, it’s hugely beneficial to experience what it takes to make a film. There are so many moving parts. I always find it a small miracle when a film gets made. It takes so many talented, hard-working people to pull it together.  Every aspect of filmmaking has to work in harmony with the other, and it’s great to have an understanding of all of it.

That being said, it’s an enormous challenge to take just one aspect much less all three of them. When you add the fact that I played lead roles in both films….well, that’s just crazy! It’s insanely difficult to give one hundred percent focus on one job when you have the responsibilities of the other jobs at the same time. They key is to do a ton of preparation and to have a great crew who will support your vision.

Heineken5Any other upcoming works you can mention? 

That’s such a tricky question these days. Most of the projects I work on are top secret until they release. Then there are the jobs like the one I shot last week, where you don’t even know if the network is going to pick up the show, so we will have to wait on that one. I can tell you that I did some cool stunt work on Sleepless, a kick-ass action film starring Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan that will hit the theaters in February.  I’m also in the works on writing and producing my first full-length feature film…and yes, this one will be chock full of action!

If you could work with one person in the entertainment business, living or dead, whom would you choose and why?

That’s easy. Lucille Ball. Hands down. I’m so inspired by her, not just because she was an amazing actress, but also because she created so much of her own content. She was a pioneer for women in the industry, and when it comes to bringing physicality to the work…there’s no one better!

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I have to say that I didn’t see the Lucille Ball reference coming, but Danielle is precisely correct, and she has chosen a genuine cultural icon to venerate. Danielle is definitely one who has had her hand in practically every aspect of the wild world of entertainment, and it appears that she will not be slowing down any time soon. As a woman with phenomenally diverse gifts, she is one I greatly respect for this amazing and somewhat crazy path she has chosen, and there is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to experience uncategorical success as she proceeds on her staggering journey to accomplish every dream within her heart and mind. Moreover, Danielle is one who will stand the test of time in this business because she has made the decision to be an entertainer for all the right reasons. She is not in it for the fame, fortune, nor ego-boost; she is an actress, stuntwoman, writer, producer, director, and more because she LOVES what she does and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Because of her unswerving devotion to her career, Danielle will persevere in blazing her way to the pinnacle of her profession with a kind heart, a winning smile, and an uncanny knack for “killing it” in action films. As we await her upcoming works, I entreat all of my readers to follow her at the links below to ensure that you are able to watch out for this busy lady in every aspect of her career. Furthermore, keep an eye out for this film she mentioned called Sleepless coming to a theater near you in February 2017, as it sounds like Danielle is going to be featured doing some of the things she loves most in the universe! (Then again, she loves it all with a passion, right???)

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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