Dana was last on the One Broke Actress podcast for the Season 4 premiere in 2019. Known best for her role as Cam’s sister, Pameron Tucker, on ABC’s Modern Family, Dana found her voice and began comedy improv training in Los Angeles at iO West, UCB, and The Groundlings. You may have seen her in other things such as Bridesmaids, Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Good Place, and more. In this episode, Dana talks about all that has changed since the pandemic — where she cleaned house and moved on from her reps after things weren’t working out. She gets candid about where she is at in her career now and what keeps her going despite her come-to-Jesus moments.
Dana Powell: I probably talked last time, I’m sure, about Eric Stonestreet. He is a mentor of mine. He’s one of the early people that I met when I moved to Los Angeles. We did improv together, and he’s the meanest big brother you could ever ask for, and I never asked for one, but I have learned [Laughs] —
Sam Valentine: [Laughs]
Dana Powell: — so much from him, and he taught me, very early on, so many people get wrapped up in my career absolutely rests on having representation. I am walking, living, breathing proof that that is not the truth. That is not the only way. The bulk of my career was built without an agent and without a manager, and I think people have more opportunity for that today because y’all’s gettin’ representation off the internet! I never had that!
Sam Valentine: Yeah.
Dana Powell: But representation is not the end all be all, guys. Don’t ever let them hold you captive. If you’re not feelin’ it, jump off the cliff, see what happens. I always say LA is a place of endless hope and opportunity, and if you’re supposed to be here, she’ll take care of you. I say that constantly, I have for decades, and I mean it. And I’ve had those hard talks. I’ve called my manager and said, “Are you too big for me?” and she said, “Yes.” I’ve been through it. [Laughs] It’s not easy. That hurts to hear, you know?
Sam Valentine: Yeah.
Dana Powell: But I’m not done. Nobody gets to decide when I’m done besides me, and I would say if you have that tug to go to something else and to do something else when you’re in the down times, if there is that thing that you’re like, “I mean, I could… I mean, I do enjoy it… I mean, I would…,” then do it. I pray for that all the time. I’m like, “Please send something else that I love because it’s not there, and that’s how I know I can’t quit yet.
Sam Valentine: Yeah. Yeah, what would you say to actors who don’t have representation (which is a lot of actors who are listening to this podcast right now)?
Dana Powell: Yeah, I would say just be on your own game. You are your publicist. You don’t want to be a content creator? Like I just said earlier, I ain’t got time for that! [Laughs] If you don’t, you can still have a presence online. You can still have an Instagram that really — I mean, we’ve talked. You and I have been on a panel before where we’ve talked about there are casting associates and casting directors and people, they’re checking out your personality on your Instagram. They want to know who their directors will be working with. They want to know what you’re gonna be like for 12 days, a 12-hour day on set. You can still have a presence online, and then you can still make stuff and not dump $10,000 into it. People are forgiving these days.
Sam Valentine: Yeah.
Dana Powell: You don’t need to have a $5,000 mic and a $25,000 camera anymore. Get your face up while you’re at a stoplight and tell people who you’re feeling, show a little bit of what you’ve got charisma-wise, right? Charisma.
Sam Valentine: I like that. I like that. It’s scary to — ‘cause we talked about how it gets very lonely. So to also not have reps in your corner, right, because we know that Breakdown Services has to be accessed by representation, you know?
Dana Powell: Mm-hmm.
Sam Valentine: So the idea of a TV show or booking a movie —
Dana Powell: Unless your friend that you met ten years ago in your improv class or your acting class or your yoga class is now a writer that created their own show and they tell casting, “Hey, bring in my buddy. She’s great.”
Sam Valentine: Right. Right.
Dana Powell: This is not a sprint. This is a marathon, and you are planting seeds right now for your career in 15 years always, always.