Dana L. Davis Takes Lessons From Her Own Acting Career to Create Unique and Inspiring Female Characters

Dana L. Davis is taking experiences from her own life as an author and actress to create brave and beautiful female characters in her new book Fake Famous: A Novel. Red Morgan is an Iowa farm girl fresh out of high school with a remarkable singing voice. She is thrust into the spotlight after being mistaken for global pop star Zay-Zay Waters. With an opportunity to make a name for herself, will Red choose fame or the family farm? We got to chat with Dana to learn more about the care she takes in crafting her characters and plotlines. 

Young Entertainment: When did you know that writing was something that you wanted to do?
DD: Probably when I was in the fifth grade, and we had an Earth Day project due. So rather than do something typical, I asked the teacher if I could write a play. He said, Sure! So I wrote a play, held auditions, and cast it with kids from my class. That experience helped me realize I didn’t want to be a director. Lol. But after that experience with writing, there was no holding back.

“I wanted to show extreme fame in a way that highlights the hard work and sacrifice. And I also wanted to show living a “normal” life in a way that warrants praise and admiration.”

YE: Did you take inspiration from your life in the entertainment industry when writing this book?
DD: I’ve been acting for 28 years, so I’ve been on tons of sets and had lots of experiences with all different levels of celebrity. I wanted to show extreme fame in a way that highlights the hard work and sacrifice. I also wanted to show living a “normal” life in a way that warrants praise and admiration. Is anyone better than the other? We forget that we’re all so similar. The single, hardworking mom deserves to be praised and admired just as much as the singing, well dressed celebrity.

YE: How do you balance your life as an author, voice-over artist, and an actress?
DD: And mom! It’s a daily maze of confusion. But it’s so rewarding and exciting to be a professional storyteller. Authors are not typically writing machines. We have to be inspired to write. So when writer’s block hits, or maybe just the heartbreak of a story that’s not coming together, I give myself the space to feel what I need to feel to move through it. Same as being an actor. So much rejection. And time off between projects. I try to remind myself consistently that the only people who lose, are the people who stop trying. 

YE: Does what you learn as an actress help with your writing and vice versa?
DD: I’ve learned as an actress that the same story over and over is redundant and boring. I try to create unique characters that might inspire or uplift instead of played out stereotypes. I try to remember the young reader holding my book and say, “What do I want to say to them?” 

YE: What did you learn through the process of writing Fake Famous: A Novel?
DD: Honestly, I learned a new way of plotting. This was my first venture with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. Which is a way to plot as a screenwriter. But I found it works with novels too!  

YE: What are the biggest similarities and differences between Red and Zay-Zay?
DD: They are both very hardworking. Loyal to family. Upstanding and fun. Zay-Zay isn’t ashamed of her gifts. And maybe Red is going on a journey to discover that it’s OK to be extraordinary. It’s actually a choice.  

YE: How would both Red and Zay-Zay describe each other?
DD: Zay-Zay would say Red is cute and sweet and good. The kind of person who would be by your side even in the worst of times. She’s a ride or die. Red would say Zay-Zay is confident and brave and so insanely talented. 

 “I am contributing stories to the world that say ‘It’s absolutely ok to be your beautiful self’.”

YE: Red grew up on a farm in Iowa, do you have any connection to farms?
DD: I used to walk right by one on my way to school every day! I grew up in Iowa and we had this giant field of corn next to our school. I used to always take ears of corn home to my mom.  

YE: What was your approach to creating these female characters in Fake Famous: A Novel?
DD: No stereotypes. I try my hardest to create unique characters that uplift and inspire. It’s so easy to do what’s been done. I like to always try new things. Bring out fresh and interesting character traits. 

YE: With March being Women’s History Month, the month is meant to celebrate the contributions of women in society. How have you contributed as an author and actress?
DD: I think with books like Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, where I showcase a girl who is learning to live with generalized anxiety disorder in a way that makes people laugh out loud, or with characters like a single mom who isn’t a stereotype but a handworker raising up a musical savant. Somebody That I Used to Know highlights a young girl who is a Julliard hopeful. And Fake Famous has Red….the farmer. I am contributing stories to the world that say, “It’s absolutely OK to be your beautiful self”. Even if you’re the only one just like you. In order to make a difference in the world you have to be different. So, I hope I’m saying to the world…be different. Be you. Be bold.  

YE: Who would you want to swap lives with for a bit of time if you could?
DD: Probably a happy old lady who lives in the English countryside. Owns a cute little cottage. Chats with all her neighbors daily. 

YE: Do you have a specific genre that you would like to write in the future?
DD: Sci-fi! I love Octavia Butler and am so inspired by her story. I’d love to be on a shelf next to her.

Consider this:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself! Some days will be difficult, other days will be great. But don’t give up and don’t lose hope in your dreams.