Danielle Galligan is Full of Insight and Wit
Written by: Jemima Marriott
Danielle Galligan is not only insightful beyond her years, she’s also witty and has a beautiful way of viewing life and her acting career. Cool America Magazine sat down with her and found out quite a bit about this talented actress.
Photographer: Jemima Marriott
Stylist: Tilly Wheating
Makeup: Amanda Grossman @The Only Agency using makeup by Trinny London and skincare by Scientia
Hair: Shukeel Murtaza @ The Only Agency using Malin and Goetz and Hair by Sam McKnight
Hi, Danielle. When did your dream of becoming an actress begin?
Hiya! I think I was quite late to the party. I played a very charming cowboy in school at 16 and had my biology teacher actually convinced that I was a lad from a school down the road. I developed a love then but didn’t consider it as a possible career until I studied in in college. Even then I was afraid to admit that it was my dream.
You have worked in both TV and Theatre, what aspects from each do you enjoy? Do you have a preference?
Yes, I’m so lucky to have worked across both mediums and I hope to continue to do both because I definitely couldn’t pick a favourite. Gun to my head though… yeah you’d have to shoot me because I can’t choose. There’s nothing like the feeling of experiencing a story together with a live audience on stage. Sharing space together like that when no one really knows what can happen is a very special phenomenon. But then with film, I love the intimacy that can be achieved. It’s very scary and can feel kind of exposing at times but I like to try and surrender and imagine that I’m inviting the audience into the story as much as possible, like I’m telling them a secret. Hahah that sounds sooo wanky but it’s the truth.
Congratulations with your show Shadow and Bone on Netflix! How did you feel when you got the role?
Thank you so much! To be honest, I didn’t feel anything at first. I think I was probably stunned when my agent told me on the phone. Then I rang my mam straight away and told her and she was over the moon but I was still pretty chill. It wasn’t until later, and this is probably TMI, but I went for a pee and everything dawned on me and I just started bawling. I was sitting there looking at the ceiling just thinking “thank you” and “what?!”.
“I think all people are complicated to understand.”
Tell us about your character Nina.
Nina has become a bit of a hero of mine. She’s an orphan whose powers were discovered age 8 and she was then whisked away to be trained as a deadly Heartrender to fight for her country. So she’s seen some stuff but this has never affected her true nature which is very emotional and vibrant. She loves life and living it to the fullest so she’s an utter hedonist, shameless flirt and always great craic. She is witty. She is fierce but not fearless which makes her so courageous. She values human connection over all else and I believe she can’t help but see the good in people which gets in the way of orders.
Is she an easy or complicated character to understand?
I think all people are complicated to understand. So if the character is written well they will be complicated to understand too. I think that’s why the books were so essential to my process. Leigh Bardugo writes very complex characters but in Six of Crows, she gives us an insight into each of them via chapters told from their perspective so we were given some of the answers and the rest is filling in the blanks. I worked with an amazing theatre maker before who said every play has an engine and I kind of stole that for characters. Once you find the engine that drives them, you can understand why they do what they do!
What was it like to carry the show as one of the main characters?
I try not to think of it in those terms. I’m just carrying Nina’s storyline and trying to communicate that as best I can to the audience. I’m just one star in one constellation in the Shadow and Bone Galaxy or whatever. Once all the stars are shining their brightest then that’s when the magic happens. I really do think all the performances are amazing by the guys, I was blown away by them! Everyone carried their character so well and worked so hard. As did the showrunners and directors and those behind the scenes. I’m so happy to have been a part of it.
Name 3 actors you hope to work with?
ONLY THREE? AGH!? Saoirse Ronan, Yuh-Jung Youn, and Mads Mikkelsen.
Oh sorry! But great then I get more options! Hunter Schafer, Colman Domingo and Brenda Fricker.
Again, only three?! Chan-Wook Park, Andrea Arnold or Lynne Ramsay!
“Storytelling is an absolutely fundamental part of life.”
What most inspires you to act?
Ehhhh paying my rent? Nah not really. I find it hard to articulate exactly why other than I absolutely and irrevocably love it. I think telling stories and storytelling is an absolutely fundamental part of life and I want to be involved in telling them.
Do you have any tips for any aspiring people who want to act?
I once read that the measure of passion is in your willingness to let go: you have to be willing to fail as much as you want to succeed. Now I think I probably paraphrased that but the sentiment is the same. It helped me when I wanted to quit and when it was too hard. I felt like I was failing and often still do feel like I’m failing but try to remind myself of this idea. Failing will be part of it. You gotta love it enough to accept the failures and keep at it anyway. If you have enough love and passion it will carry you through.
How has COVID-19 changed you? How are you adjusting?
Well, like so many in the arts, it took my job away, which took my purpose away. I think I realised then that all of my self-worth and identity was wrapped up in this job and I totally lost them when I couldn’t work. This time forced me to find worth and identity from within, from who I am without the work instead of what I do. Definitely haven’t fully cracked it yet but just good to be aware of these things! I’d say as a world we don’t know yet what kind of changes we’re all undergoing. I really think we can turn the collective trauma experienced into some really positive and lasting changes in the future. I just hope everyone is being kind to themselves until then.
Do you see a place where you can help make change in this world?
I think it’s important to think about all the small changes we can make every day. I know depending on your circumstances it can be difficult to make big changes to your diet and lifestyle but I think if we start really small we can actually affect great change. I don’t eat meat or fish anymore and try to stay as plant based as possible. I’m trying to learn about what brands are more sustainable these days. I think knowledge really is power so educating ourselves and then being careful with the information and that we share on social media can really affect change.
Give us three other things that you would enjoy doing professionally?
Anything creative and varied. Write, direct, design, whatever!
Outside of the acting world, who is your biggest inspiration?
I’m a big fan of Brené Brown. I think everyone should watch her talks ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ and ‘Listening to Shame’. You can all thank me later!
Where do you get your fashion sense?
God, do I even have fashion sense?! My nana was always very glam and ahead of her time. I was told people used to go to mass on Sundays, not to pray but just to see what Kay Galligan was wearing. I still have some of her clothes in my wardrobe so whatever fashion sense I do have probably comes from her!
Who are your favourite designers?
Vivienne Westwood all day every day. Schiaparelli and Simone Rocha. Then maybe Halpern, Emilia Wickstead and loving Mugler at the moment! Aisling Kavanagh from Dublin makes these beautiful headpieces that I adore and Aoife McNamara’s stuff is pretty fire at the moment. Again though, I want to work on getting some more sustainable brands in my wardrobe!
“I think it’s important to think about all the small changes we can make every day.”
We are called Cool America Magazine. What do you find cool about America?
I think Billie Eilish is probably the coolest person I’ve ever encountered. Anywhere that can foster an artist and human like her is pretty cool.
What makes you cool? (Put the modesty aside).
I think I spend too much time worrying about what people think of me to ever be defined as cool. Modesty or not, that’s just fact! I think it’s cooler to just march to your own drumbeat no matter what other people say.