Danielle Campbell, best known for her role as Davina in The Originals, serves as an incredible role model and represents all that is beauty, grace, humility, and curiosity. We got the chance to talk with her about how she got her start as an actress, her latest role on CBS All Access’ Tell Me a Story, her hobbies, and how she manages to remain herself in the spotlight. Read an excerpt of our conversation below and order a copy of the Winter 2019 issue here.
So you were approached in a hair salon to take an acting meeting when you were just 10 years old. After that day, how did everything go as far as getting into and establishing your career?
I was working on going to auditions in Chicago and that was how I booked Prison Break. Then, after Prison Break, they sent me out to Los Angeles to get representation out in LA so that I could do casting from LA. So I would put myself on tape and send it out to my agents in Los Angeles and then from there I basically would fly out for next round auditions or to work. I booked a movie for Disney called Starstruck that I ended up shooting out in LA and then we shot another season of Prison Break in Texas.
I lived in Chicago for a couple of years and was doing the back and forth from Los Angeles for different projects or for auditions. I moved to Atlanta after I finished high school and I started a show called The Originals, so I was there for about three years which was a great experience with amazing people.
Then I’d do pilot season which would be out in LA, so I would take all of my schoolwork with me. My school at the time was wonderful with working with me, so I could continue acting in LA as long as I kept up with my schoolwork. I would go back to school and be able to pick up where I left off. It worked out really, really well, and I had a very supportive team around me which helped a lot too.
What’s it been like in your new role on Tell Me a Story?
It’s been a lot of fun. It’s really cool. It’s a very different type of storyline but at the same time is kind of like the worlds that are familiar to people. People who watched The Originals will definitely be able to watch Tell Me a Story and get caught up in it the same way because you have a good feeling about who the characters are. You understand the world without it being one that’s overly familiar to you, and I think the characters are all flawed and that’s kind of what makes them so interesting because you both love and hate them. You can understand where all of them are coming from, which makes their dynamics kind of crazy and fun for the audience.
What do you think the audience will get from watching a character like Kayla?
You’re watching this teen girl go through a lot of things that I think most kids grow up trying to figure out, and if you can understand her reasoning behind [her actions], you get to watch her and feel like “No don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that.” I think for me it was a lot of fun. She’s a fun character. She’s very spirited, she’s got a quick mouth, and she’s very confident, but at the same time, she’s very scared.
What was your experience like with the cast and crew?
I got to work with Kim Cattrall and Billy Magnussen; everyone is so talented and to be not only on a show but to be working with them was one of was one of the greatest things ever. I think Billy is so talented, and I’ve learned so much from him. And Kim Cattrall is so wonderful and such a pleasure to talk to on and off camera. She’s been in the industry forever, and she knows what she’s doing. It was really interesting to watch her work. I grew a lot on the show, and it was a lot of fun for me to get to work with everybody. I think our cast is really special.
What has it been like for like working on a show by Kevin Williamson? I mean he’s known for some of the most like wildly popular shows.
It was an honor. Kevin’s got his own thoughts and creates worlds that people are just drawn to. He knows how to write for his audience, and I think that’s what was really, really special. I felt very lucky to be a part of it. It kind of enters a different world where it’s not supernatural, but it’s dark and twisted, almost as most thrillers can be, but you’re also watching these storylines with people who are seemingly normal and how they twist and turn in all those ways, so I’ve really enjoyed it for that reason.
What was it like getting to shoot in New York?
New York is amazing to work in, especially while I was there. I was there for the best months from the beginning of summer and then into the fall so I got to see the weather change. It was so beautiful with all the rooftops and the city lights. Everything is just is so beautiful out there. I really enjoyed the energy in New York, and to be honest we couldn’t have shot this show anywhere else because New York has its own heartbeat and it shows. You really get to feel that on our show. We actually used so many of the iconic places in New York that all of us know and love.
What do you like to do aside from acting? Any hobbies?
I’m a big outdoorsy person. I love going to the beach, and I love surfing. I’m not amazing at it, but I love it and I’m learning. I love hiking. I love to cook; cooking’s one of my favorite things.
I think for me, traveling is probably one of my favorite things in the world because I think you get kind of everything wrapped in one. You get different cultures, you get different people, different cuisines, and I think I’m just such a curious person, so I really love that.
I also really enjoy painting. I always loved art growing up and going to different galleries.
What’s your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?
That is the most impossible question. I love Europe. I think Europe has an old beautiful feel to it that you can’t really create anywhere else. I love Asia. I’ve been to Vietnam and China and just explored the landscape and learned about the people. Everything there is so different than anything I’ve grown up with, so I think just because it’s so different, that’s really intriguing to me.
So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about how you manage to stay true to yourself and stay exactly who you are when you’re in the spotlight all the time.
I think what’s interesting about our world right now is that this is like the constant day-to-day question. What can I do for myself today that helps me feel present and like me? I think right now since the world is Instagram and Twitter and all those [social media platforms where we’re so focused on everyone else’s life]. I think what makes me feel the most true to myself is just being able to be present. I really love to create connections to people that I care about and that I’m curious about. I want to feel like I’m engaged with them. I try not to spend a lot of time on any social networks and stuff, especially if I’m with someone.
I think it’s surrounding myself with people who help remind me that the people who matter are the people that are in front of you that you talk to. They’re not the people online that you’ve never met before who are saying whatever they want. That’s something that everyone needs to deal with on a day-to-day basis now, which is something that didn’t exist years ago, and so I think the world is constantly trying to look for different ways to help cope with that.
I think it’s very easy for me because I don’t know those people. I remember who I am and who my family is and who my friends are. It’s the people that you’re interacting with that matter. If you put your energy on things that don’t exist, you’re also forgetting the people who are present and actually care about you.
I think a lot of it also goes back to just taking a step back and realizing that success isn’t on your phone or on your computer. None of that is important. I think at the end of it, I want to feel like I’ve had a blast with my friends and my family, and I want to have memories to look back on. So I definitely love that there is Instagram and there are videos and pictures, but at the same time, I think I’m very good at balancing my time between living in the present and then capturing memories that I can look back at.
STORY GINA DECICCO
PHOTOS DERRICK FRESKE
HAIR SUNNIE BROOK
MAKEUP MELISSA HERNANDEZ
STYLIST KATIE BOFSHEVER
CREATIVE DIRECTION ANNA ZHANG
ORDER A PRINT COPY
click the title to purchase
Winter 2019 – Volume IV – Issue No. 001
Cover: Danielle Campbell