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Meet Dana Chariton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Chariton.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dana. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in Palm Springs, California, though now I’m based in Los Angeles. I’ve been on stage performing since I was in the second grade, doing community theatre at the McCallum. By the time I was in middle school, I was performing with Palm Canyon Theater, the only Equity theatre in town at the time. I performed eight musicals with them and have never looked back to the style since. I trained in ballet for five years and attended the Idyllwild Arts Shakespeare intensive during summer breaks from Palm Springs High School. The intensive was taught by J. Barrett Cooper, a man who single-handedly changed my life and lit the fire to become the actor I am today.

I am currently finishing my last semester at CalArts receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting and a minor in creative writing. I was taught by some of the most incredible artists who allowed me to take risks and gave me the permission to fail. Which I did. More times than I can count. But ultimately, they taught me how to get back up and continue to fight, which is the most valuable thing I can take into my career.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of the largest “bumps” I would say I’ve hit is having to complete my $60k education online in my last semester, being an essential worker in danger, and having the entire industry stop just as I am trying to jump out there. I had always dreamed of graduation, though now it feels like I’m being thrown off a cliff instead of eased into the real world after my training is done. Five years ago, I decided it was necessary to receive proper acting training and in order to earn my degree. I transferred schools and had to re-start again as a freshman at CalArts. I have gone into incredible debt to do this, just like every other college student who has graduated in the last ten years. I have worked two jobs, on and off campus, since I started college while taking class full time.

Many of my own personal obstacles, as well as the inherent obstacles of Hollywood, inspire me to push further down my path. Most media has been by and for white men, though I am incredibly excited to see big changes coming, slowly but surely. As a pansexual woman, I am aware of the misrepresentations of people all across the LGBT+ spectrum. I want to help bridge the gaps between including marginalized people and not tokenizing them. I am also inspired by great women like Frances McDormand and Brie Larson who are vocal about inclusion riders, encouraging people, especially white people, who hold power to advocate financially for racially marginalized people.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Writing and performing my own comedy has definitely helped me discover my voice. It turns out that voice is just loud and vulgar, but hey, discovery is discovery. Others have described me as Natasha Lyonne and Drew Barrymore’s lovechild – but I’m not braggin’. Whether it be sketches, stand up, short films, or even improv, I am always working to better my craft. Though my formal Bachelor’s training may be coming to a close, I know that I will never stop learning – especially about myself. One thing I am most proud of is the incredible community that stands beside me, my CalArts “Mafia.” Iron sharpens iron and the people that I surround myself with make me a better artist with each passing day. I focus most of my efforts on stand up, sitcom, and voice overwork. With my powerful voice and charming wit, I will be writing and performing my own comedy forever.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Currently, I am writing a short about a vigilante justice superhero who shoots lasers out of her chest at rapists and abusive men. So that’s keeping quarantine light and fun. Once the world opens back up, I plan to perform more stand up and am looking to intern at television networks to nudge my bright orange little head into the writer’s room. My brother, Derek Chariton, is also an amazing actor and, rest assured, you will be hearing more from – The Siblings Chariton™.

I am incredibly excited to announce my upcoming short film – Bite The Hand That Desires created by Christian Berger, where I play a cool-calm-and-collected cannibal. This, and three other animated shorts created by CalArts insanely skillful students, do not have release dates yet but are sure to come by summer. My reel will be uploaded shortly (I know, I know, I’m on it!), though you can find more information and my CalArts Showcase scene on danachariton.com.

Contact Info:

  • Website: danachariton.com
  • Email: danakaychariton@aol.com
  • Instagram: @danachariton

Image Credit:
Headshots: Sadie Sieroty, Bite the Hand Cinematography: Max Harper and Christian Berger, West Coast Premiere of When We Were Young and Unafraid by Sarah Treem at the Marilyn Monroe Theater, CalArts Photo Archive – the devised piece A Witch’s Cabaret

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