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Artist Spotlight: Actress Dana Gourrier, a NOLA star on the rise

Written by  IntheNOLA.com
There’s something about a New Orleans woman. And we’re not saying this just because there are two of them in the IntheNOLA offices. Not at all…
 
There’s something special about her. Poised, yet relaxed, confident and humble, full of life, love, and sometimes a little loud (and since we got two in our offices, you know it’s double loud in here!)! Yep, that’s our kind of woman. If you know Ms. Dana Gourrier, then you know she’s most certainly one of those New Orleans women.
 
An actress, singer, and all-around performer, it’s our pleasure to present Dana as our first Local Artist Spotlight for 2014!
 
An “East beast” by trade and schooled Uptown at Ursuline Academy, Dana has always been interested in the entertainment industry, in particular acting. “When I was 14, I did some theatre here in the city and I got hooked,” said Dana. “Although I tried to get away from it here and there, I just couldn’t. I went to the University of New Orleans (UNO) and started studying Psychology, but I wasn’t doing so hot there. So I thought I better do something I love or else I’m gonna perish! So dramatic, right?!”

And drama is just what Dana needed, prompting a big change. “I changed my major, school, and city, moved to New York after graduation,” she explained. “Early on I had the opportunity to study method acting with Susan Grace Cohen in affiliation with NYU. Method acting is basically when you use sense memory in your work. You draw upon old memories or you use your memories as a tool to perform or draw emotion from. It also has to do with adopting a body language from the outside in. Marlon Brando was a method actor as well as many others. So first thing I do is figure out is how my character moves or how she’s going to walk.  However, I don't just use the Method; I’ve studied all types of theorists and use many approaches to acting, much of which I learned in grad school at CalArts.  Initially, I intended to only stay for the five week program in New York, but I knew I couldn't leave and that five weeks turned into five years.  The rest is history.”
 
With passion and education, Dana is making her way up the acting ladder, stopping by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Lenny Kravitz, Samuel L. Jackson, among others on the way. “I loved working with Oprah and Lenny Kravitz on Lee Daniels’ The Butler. It was awesome to be in their company. Two of my favorite actresses are Angela Bassett and Jessica Lange. I was able to work with Jessica Lange and it was extraordinary to just watch her. She’s got that magic; you just can’t take your eyes off of her.”
 
She added, “Samuel L. Jackson is someone who has inspired me and not only because of his story, but also because he was particularly kind to me and welcoming. He mentored me throughout the whole process when I worked on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Quentin Tarantino also inspires me, as well as others like Forest Whitaker, who is elegant and graceful even when he is the villain. Those people for sure inspire me. Obviously, I’ve worked with these people, but I think working with them is what afforded me the ability to see how they work, what it is they do, how hard it is, and how extraordinary they are and for me that’s an inspiration.”
Artist Spotlight: Actress Dana Gourrier, the woman behind the movies | IntheNOLA.com
But other actors, actresses, and directors aren’t the only ones who have inspired Dana. “My parents have definitely inspired me. They are some hardworking folks, always sacrificing and doing things to make sure we’re good, my mom especially. My dad and I are like peas and carrots. He says things and drops knowledge that I didn’t even know I was going to get that day, like ‘I didn’t even ask for that, but thank you!’”
 
In addition to acting, Dana is also an accomplished singer. One of her greatest achievements has been singing the national anthem at the Superdome for the New Orleans Saints versus Arizona Cardinals football game. “Three weeks prior to the game, Rita Benson LeBlanc (Vice Chairman of the Board of the Saints) saw The Butler at a screening party being thrown by Drew Brees” mused Dana. “Jared Sampson, a friend of mine that works with the Saints, was in attendance and was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s Dana! She wanted to sing the national anthem, but our roster was full.’ So Rita was like, ‘Well, get her in.’ It was the scariest and most exhilarating experience of my life, I mean, it was 80,000 people!”
 
So what does Ms. Gourrier have in store for us now? “True Detective with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey just premiered on HBO. I was supposed to have a one-liner, but it turned into six episodes! You have to fight for it, but the fight would be pointless without having the right people behind you pushing you, making the calls or speaking to the decision makers and saying, ‘This is the girl I trust.’ For me, that person is for sure Meagan Lewis. I’ve gotten roles that were originally intended for Caucasian males and Asian females. They had all these ideas of who they wanted, but with Meagan’s influence to help them think outside of the box when it comes to me, I’ve had great experiences and gotten awesome opportunities that I might not have and I feel truly blessed.”
Artist Spotlight: Actress Dana Gourrier, the woman behind the movies | IntheNOLA.com
And Dana certainly feels blessed to be from a city as unique and special as New Orleans. “Everywhere I’ve been in this world—Rwanda, Uganda, Paris, France, the islands—no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve always found my way back home and I don’t think it’s something that you can explain unless you’ve lived here. I love just about everything about the city: the high school football games, plaid skirts and penny loafers, red beans on Monday.”
 
Dana concluded, “I love being here and I feel beyond grateful and blessed to be able to do what I love at home! I’m not saying that I won’t have to be bi- or tri-coastal one day, but there is a lot of opportunity here at home and what better place to be in to be able to work.”
 
For more information on Dana Gourrier, please visit her Facebook and Twitter.
Last modified on Tuesday, 28 January 2014
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