By Adrianne Frost
When Danielle Savre enters the room, you first take note of the cascading blonde mane, then the eyes that look straight out of a Margaret Keane (“Big Eyes”) painting but it’s that optimistic smile that makes you want to be her best friend. She is stylish and beautiful, ready to burst with joy at any moment. Look closer to discover a talented performer, a centered actor with a pointed wit, and an individual ready to bring her strength and confidence to women and girls everywhere.
It began over twenty years ago when Danielle was a little girl in California. “I was this energetic and sassy child that loved to play dress up, loved to live life and absolutely loved TV and movies,” she remembers. Her best friend’s mom was the assistant to an agent who convinced Danielle’s mother to bring her in for an audition when she was seven years old. Cut to her first job on a Mattel commercial. As she held Barbie in her hands and the cameras started to roll, Danielle knew she was home. “Truth be told,” she says, “being on set has been the only place I feel most comfortable and able to be myself.” There were adjustments as her acting career blossomed “I definitely was, and still am, an oddball! And, yes, EVERYTHING changed.” She recalls, “My job became this thing that people talked about, and that’s when people started making their own assumptions about me.”
At the age of seven, it’s hard to kick up resilience and fortitude in the face of change, but her support system was like a wall built with the hands of 20 laborers. The strongest of them all: Danielle’s mother. While other family members supported her, they also wanted to know what she planned to pursue as a career. Not mom, she says. “My mom saw how happy being on set made me. She sacrificed so much and gave up so much for me to make it to every audition, to have the essentials I needed to learn as much as I could and brought me back down to earth if things ever got to my head.”
Danielle continued to act, appearing in television shows, including One on One, The X-Files, CSI, and Charmed. Also, a singer, she was cast as the lead in the MTV series, Kaya, about a teen who, with her band, becomes an overnight rock sensation. Her star continued to rise as she worked steadily. Like any actor, there were down times, and, she says, “The slower years were tough, but made me fight even harder and appreciate every win even more. Of course, every single job feels like it will be my last. I don’t think that feeling will every go away. I believe that is why most actors and artists are free spirits. We have to learn to go with the flow and not stress about what will be.”
Eventually, she landed the lead in a Tyler Perry production, “Close To Home”, which was TLC’s first scripted series. She marvels at his drive: “I still don’t know how he does it all. I have been very lucky and I am grateful to go from the genius that is Tyler Perry and then to the powerhouse that is Shondaland. I have grown so much in these last two years while working with them. I remind myself almost daily how Tyler always told me to ‘live in my truth.’ Working with him started a huge shift in both my acting and how I live life.”
It is this confidence and truth that she brings to her current project, “Station 19”, a Shonda Rhimes production, which was just renewed for a second season. Danielle is thrilled to be back. “I was so excited when we got the news! Shondaland encourages the people she hires to speak up and stand for something. The world she has built perpetuates gratitude and empowerment. She believes in the people she hires and you feel that. A perfect example is our creator Stacy Mckee, who was a staff writer on the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy. 15 years ago! And now Station 19 is her baby. That says a lot!! There is an all-around trust and respect for each other that she instills in the work environment. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.”
Of her fellow cast members, she says, “Somehow Stacy and Paris (casting directors) hired the nine people that mesh so well together. We enjoy each other’s company so much that even on weekends after spending an entire week together fighting fires we have BBQ’s at Jay’s house or the three of us girls go hiking. We authentically enjoy each other’s company and value each other’s talent.”
Danielle plays Maya Bishop, a feisty, intense, but warm-hearted firefighter. She brings an emotional depth and multiple layers to her performance. Again, family plays a role in her success. Her sister is in the LAFD. On playing a female fire fighter, she shares, “It is an honor to portray my sister and all female fire fighters, who are real life superheroes. They set the bar high and the pressure is intense to not misrepresent them in any way, but having my sister mentor me through it all is a gift that I don’t take for granted. She says she is very happy with everything on the show so far, but the challenge will be in maintaining that season after season.” In marches the sense of empowerment Danielle brings to the role, “I just want women to see its possible. My sister is a perfect example of that. [Growing up] I never saw a film or TV show with a female fighter. Ever. Females have been noted in history fighting fires side by side with men since 1815! People always say to me ‘you have three female firefighters at one station that is unrealistic’ and I always say ‘No that’s what the future looks like. Welcome to it’.”
The future of the female voice is of vital interest to her, and something she takes very seriously. Danielle is a huge supporter of Care.org, which puts women and girls at the center of the fight for equality and justice around the world. She wants to use her celebrity to share a message. She wants young girls, especially, to know, “The time is now to exercise your voice. People are finally listening. Speak up, discover your passion, and embrace it, be open-minded and enjoy the journey. For young actors just remember through it all to keep your head up, believe in yourself and never give up. I hope I can be a positive influence with on the younger generations with my honesty. I think that’s something a lot of people in the spotlight hide from the public. Maybe they are afraid it will tarnish the glamorous façade of being a star, I am an open book to a fault but I hope that it shows people that I was simply a girl with a dream and that anything is possible but the road to get there isn’t always smooth. I still have so much more to learn but I hope that sharing what I have learned so far will inspire others!”
Her honesty is refreshing and insightful. She is not afraid to admit she gets as insecure as the rest of us. Everyone has demons that can creep in, giving power to doubts. Acting is no different. “It’s a profession that makes you feel as if you will never be pretty enough, young enough, talented enough, just… never enough.” The solution, in those shaky moments? Zen out. She continues, “You have to learn to love yourself and embrace that you are where you are supposed to be exactly at this moment and stop dwelling on the ‘what ifs’. Life is complicated enough we just seem to always want to complicate it even more. My method of shaking them is to write down three things I do like about myself. Simply reminding myself of the positives I do cherish is enough to quit dwelling on my imperfections.”
Danielle knows taking care of herself outside of work is crucial. “I love to be active and I love to travel. Although, after a long day of filming,” she adds, “I enjoy reading a great magazine or book. On weekends just getting outside and taking in nature makes me happy. Most of the time we are on a windowless sound stage where we get to set before the sun is up and we leave after the sun has set. So, getting to take in some vitamin D and socialize outside is such a gift.”
When she can’t get out, “I use social media as a great tool to stay connected with fans and to stay up to date with what is going on in my friends lives. I almost only use Instagram. I am a visual person and I am inspired by visuals. I love Nitch for motivational quotes. Joylenz for the most artistic posts, that inspire my desire to create. Discover Earth to fuel my love for travel even more. And The Daily Mail to get lost, watching some of the most entertaining, hilarious or even moving videos.”
Other than acting, what brings her true joy? “Watching people speak about what they are passionate about is infectious! It makes me so happy to see people love life. So, I guess, I get the most joy out of seeing other people smile.”
Every experience in her life has stirred strength in Danielle Savre. In only 29 years, she has gained an appreciation for the lessons she has learned, but also found her voice. It is this voice that she wants to people to hear, as she reiterates, “Stay positive. Live life to the fullest. Don’t dwell on the negative. Smile. If you aren’t happy make a change. Remember sleep is important. Take care of your body. Listen to your body. Be passionate. Get in touch with your sexuality. Travel. Travel a lot and do it now. Never think you are better than anyone else. Always be willing to grow and learn. And know there is no such thing as a bad or stupid question. Lastly, be kind to each other.” With words like that from Danielle Savre soaring over our heads, how could we not be?
Please visit http://www.care.org/ for information on their initiative, programs, and ways you can help.
Photographer: Laura Morsman Photography
Makeup: Aaron Paul for Exclusive Artists using Kevyn Aucoin
Hair: Crystal Tran for Exclusive Artists using Amika Haircare
Videographer: Smoothcut Productions
Booking: Lori Simmons Zelenko Style Editor for Millennium Magazine
Editor in Charge: Warren Woodberry Jr.
Location: Mojave Desert, CA
Coordinator: Matt Dillon Public Relations