Dan O’Connor




EP 69: Dan O’Connor (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it, episode 69. 


[00:00:04] All right. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today, Dan. Oh, Connor. Are you ready for this, Dan? 

[00:00:13]Dan O’Connor: [00:00:13] You bet.

[00:00:14] Dane Reis: [00:00:14] Oh, right. Dan trained at the world, renowned Boston conservatory. He has worked in major regional theaters across the country, as well as on dozens of film sets for commercials and primetime TV. Dan has self produced his own award winning film. Meet up now available on Amazon. He is currently based in New York city with plans to go by coastal in the fall of 2020. 

[00:00:40] Dan that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in the gaps, who you are, where you’re from and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry. 

[00:00:57]Dan O’Connor: [00:00:57] Sure. Hi, I’m Dan O’Connor professionally. I go by. Daniel John O’Connor because, um, Equity. I’m originally from. Uh, long Island, New York. And I currently live in New York city. As you said, Um, I’m a proud member of the actor’s equity association. Sag eligible and I’ll probably have to change my name to, for that. Since the name Dan O’Connor is so popular. So maybe you and I can brainstorm a little bit more about that later. 

[00:01:22]Um, but you know, I’ve dabbled a little bit in film production and, um, you know, I’ve actually, I’m returning to the industry after a five year hiatus, I was working in the architecture and design industry. And, um, now I’m back and I’m currently working on my own personal development. I’m taking lots of class and I’m actually training to become a coach. A compliance officer for a film sets.

[00:01:46] Dane Reis: [00:01:46] Oh, fantastic. Um, 

[00:01:48] well, let’s move on to the next section here and look, Dan. I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone.

[00:01:59]Dan O’Connor: [00:01:59] Sure. Um, my favorite quote of the week. Um, that I’m just absolutely in love. Is every time you notice your pattern. As a time to celebrate that, you’re waking up to yourself.


[00:02:09] I couldn’t tell you who said that, but I just really liked that a lot. I just really liked that quote.

[00:02:14] Dane Reis: [00:02:14] And can you, can you expand on that a little bit?

[00:02:18]Dan O’Connor: [00:02:18] Yeah, sure. So, so you know, right now, um, you know, we are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and. , this pause since due to COVID has really been a gift for me. And for me,  , I’m kind of starting over and I’m Missing patterns and developing a new pattern of thoughts and a new wave of emotions and just a new connection to the world and a new belief system in myself.

[00:02:44]Dane Reis: [00:02:44] Beautiful. I love that.

[00:02:45] And let’s move on to this section. And of course, Dan, you are an entertainer. I am an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries, either of us have probably ever experienced. And you know, as well as I, that in order to create and to have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot of And hard work. And while of course, yeah, there is an outrageous amount of fun being an entertainer, doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles and challenges and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:03:41]Dan O’Connor: [00:03:41] some say that I’m a little too sensitive, but the truth is, , I just feel too much. So every word and every action and energy goes really straight to my heart. And it’s really funny to think about how pathetic it is, you know, um, how we waste so much time on certain people or moments and in the end that they prove that they weren’t really worth. A second of it. So, um,  many years back, I felt very abandoned and alone. And at one point I ended up leaving the industry for about five years. Um, you know, I got a great job working in architecture and design. I had a 401k, I had insurance, I had dental. I mean, isn’t that great. Yeah, I know. Right. Um, big bucks, right? So I thought the money would really make me feel successful. But, um, actually made me feel so much worse and even more alone and isolated. I mean, I spent a half, $1 million on my. , musical theater degree and I wasn’t even using that. So, um, you know, one day I began to notice this pattern and the pattern was that my colleagues would introduce me to clients. And they’d say, you know, like this is Dan and he’s an actor. And that was it. That was the day that I woke up.  I heard the universe and I was just kinda like shrimp out of that. So I snapped my pencil and I flipped my desk and I walked out the door. Um, and maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but you know, if we’re going to shoot a lifetime movie about it, That’s how cinematically we’re going to tell that story. So. Oh, we can put a pin in that for later, but, um, it was a gray and gloomy February, you know? Um, but, um, you know, I, I just, I, at that moment, I just knew I had to get out of New York and I took a quick vacation. I went to Los Angeles and. , I feel, I really felt that reenergized and.  I came back and I made one goal to go to one audition. And, um, I did, and I was a nervous wreck, but I kept telling myself, you know, Dan, you know, no one is holding a gun to your head. You know, you get to go to an audition,  you get to do this. And that first audition I booked the regional premiere of on your feet at the gateway Playhouse. And I’ve been making baby steps every day since.

[00:05:47] Dane Reis: [00:05:47] I love that. That’s such an interesting journey that you went away from the industry. And like you said, you were in the offices and people are like, Hey, this is Dan, he’s an actor. And you’re like, Oh my gosh, this has been. Uh, essentially slapping you in the face for so long. You’re like, Hey, you’re right. I am. And this is where I live. This is where I find my passion.

[00:06:09]Dan O’Connor: [00:06:09] Right. I mean, , at first I was like, no, I’m not like actors act like I’m not acting like I work in your office, you know? And I just kinda realized like, wait, why am I resisting this?  I’ve been born to do this, you know, I’ve always wanted to do it. Why am I resisting this now for. You know, so I can go to the dentist whenever I want. I mean, this is silly, so. 

[00:06:30] Yeah, I’m glad. Yeah. 

[00:06:32] Dane Reis: [00:06:32] I love that. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was. Yes. This is what I need to be doing. Has an entertainer tell us about that.

[00:06:56] Dan O’Connor: [00:06:56] Yeah. Um, Uh, I I’d say I’d have a few of those, um, including my snap out of it moment, um, that I mentioned before. Um, but I do have to reiterate that this, this really has been my dream since I was a kid. Um, and , I recently I came across a book that I wrote in second grade of book that I wrote, what am I saying? My second grade class put a book together. I think it was about like, Marsupial’s I don’t, I don’t even remember, but. Um, in the back of the book, um, our teacher had all of the students kind of do an about the author section and, , put out, you know, a school photo and a little blurb. And most of the kids were at about like how many brothers and sisters that they had. Um, and this is  author’s biography. Um, you know, it’s a bunch of second graders, like what could you possibly be writing about? But my, my about the author section was a little league baseball card styles though. Now. And it had this little blip about Cub Scouts and power Rangers, you know, looking forward to my first communion. Um, but the last line. Said someday. He would like to be a movie star. And you know, how old could I have been, you know, eight years old, 10 years old.  So, you know, rereading matter really. Um, just ignited this fire in me and  I got really teary eyed and I was just so thankful to. You know, this kid inside of me for waking me up. And he has been a huge motivation for me. So I took that page and I framed it and I hung it in my bathroom. And I look at it every day and I just remind myself like, You know, I can’t disappoint that kid. Cause , If I met my, my younger self, , I just wouldn’t want to disappoint my younger self. So, um, yeah, so he’s. That he’s been a big motivator for me.

[00:08:33] Dane Reis: [00:08:33] Yes, I love, I love that story. Thank you so much for sharing that.

[00:08:38]Dan O’Connor: [00:08:38] No. Thank you for. Asking the questions.

[00:08:41] Dane Reis: [00:08:41] Of course. And I want to piggyback on that real quick. And I want to talk about your number one, booked it moment. I’ve walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment makes it your favorite book? Did moment.

[00:09:03]Dan O’Connor: [00:09:03] Sure. You know, I’ve had, I’ve had a few pretty I booked at moments. Um, , I have a few that stand out. One of them, you know, my first film audition. Than I ever auditioned for was for, um, a small budget film called musical chairs. It was directed by Susan Segal, men who also directed desperately seeking Susan and. ,  , um, I became sag eligible after that one audition and, you know, really kind of, um,  validated that,  I’m doing the right thing. Um, and that was really great, but I guess, um, my favorite book did moment was how I got my equity card. Um, yeah, it was, it was for, uh, the open call. It was that an open call. Believe it or not. Uh, for the producers, um, uh, Kansas city star light, they were holding the auditions in New York and it was a really nasty. Um, December day, the weather was  so gross out. It was  slushy and cold and rainy and everybody was miserable. And, um, I’m sure there were other people there in the room, but the only people that I can actually remember, um, was, you know, a room filled with guys that looked exactly like me. They were all wearing gray suits and light blue shirts, you know, basically a room full of. Yeah, Leo blooms I’m including myself. And, um, , I was, uh, EMC at the time. Um, Um, I ended up making an appointment after lunch. Um, but I remember that the monitor. Uh, he mentioned that the producer was going to be in the room and that there would be an audience. Uh, his, his wife and his kids were with him,  because it was December, I guess there were visiting. New York for the winter holiday, you know, see the windows and everything. Um, Rockefeller center and all that magic that New York has December, which is so beautiful. Um, and I’ll certainly miss it when I’m living in California, but, um, anyway, I also specifically remember that, um, the monitor man’s Jen’s,  It’s a Mel Brooks musical. , this is the producers really important. You’ve got to make them laugh. And. You know, I can’t remember. It was like 10 years ago. I can’t really remember what I was planning on singing, but I do remember. I’m doomed and this is not going to be funny, whatever I was planning on singing, like this is not going to be funny. I look like every other guy in the room. . So I ran to Macy’s down the street. Um, I bought a gray turtleneck sweater. Um, I went to the makeup counter and, , I found . The creamiest queen  that I can find at the Mac counter. I was like, listen, dude, you gotta help me out. And he put me, he put some makeup on me and did  uh, some blush and some nude. Uh, I shadow and a little bit of lip gloss, and I skipped over , back to the audition and, um, flip through my book and I ended up singing. Um, I have confidence from the sound of music. But, um, obviously, , I let go of the idea that I was auditioning for Leo bloom. And, uh, I put the idea that, you know, if I, if I think about Karmann Ghia, Specifically at the spring time for Hitler audition scene in my mind. Then I can kind of flip this. I have confidence song. Around and make it funny. So the first note that comes out of my mouth, I purposely crack, and then I play it off. Like it’s the piano’s fault. And, you know, I start clapping at the pianist and finally, you know, I finished with it. You know, a really lively jazz square it’s like Liza Minnelli pose. Everybody, everybody in the room is laughing and it was absolutely incredible. And I remember hearing later from my age and, um, you know, damn well, you’re not gonna believe this, but , you got this call back , for, um, For the producers at Kansas city Starlight. And, you were the only one that day that actually made them last. And it was like, you know, Like catching lightning in a bottle, you know? And.  , cut to two weeks before the show or before we actually started rehearsing for the show. And I get a phone call from the producers and they said, listen, you know, the guys that we originally cast in the show, um, As a maximum Leo, , we decided to hire, um, Roger, Bart and Brown Oscars. So here I am playing Karmann Ghia next to the guy that won the Tony award for playing calmer. Coming here. So it was an incredible experience. If you know anything about the Kansas city star light, it is. Huge outdoor theater. It’s  over 10,000 seats, I think. And you know, it was just, it’s a crowd of just it’s like faces as far as the eye can see. It was really, it was one of the most. Incredible performances and I’ll never, ever forget that experience.

[00:13:22] Dane Reis: [00:13:22] I love that. And I love that. What I’m hearing at least is that you, you walked in, you saw all the people here, you all look, we all look the same. Look at us. And he’s like, you know what? I gotta do something different. I need to scrap this. Cause  I can imagine what you were originally planning on doing was going to be exactly what pretty much everyone else was planning on doing. And you said no, no, no, no, no. I’m going to make them laugh. They’ve got their kids in the room. And they, and I’ll tell you what the kids are gonna be.  the one that you have to impress, you know, if you can make the kids laugh. Then

[00:13:52] Dan O’Connor: [00:13:52] is so hard to impress the kid. It is so hard to impress kids and surprise kids. I mean, , I, I don’t know how people do children’s theater, truly. It is. That is, that is some hard work there. Cause  kids can be brutal.

[00:14:07] Dane Reis: [00:14:07] Absolutely. But I love that you  had this moment of inspiration. You said, , I’m gonna do this and you just improvise and you made it, you and you were, you.

[00:14:16]Dan O’Connor: [00:14:16] Yeah.

[00:14:17] Dane Reis: [00:14:17] you. I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you perform, but I remember seeing you performing when you were in your groove and you were at your best, you are absolutely a stunning performer. And I love watching you perform so. I can only

[00:14:31] Dan O’Connor: [00:14:31] Then you were two

[00:14:32] kinds. You are two kinds.

[00:14:34] Dane Reis: [00:14:34] not at all. Not at

[00:14:35] all. Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And of course, it’s a weird time. We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:14:56] Dan O’Connor: [00:14:56] ,  it’s a whole new world now. And, uh, , my plan pre COVID was to move to California. Um, you know, even before Corona virus was a household name, that was, that was the plan. So my partner and I, we still are planning on moving towards that farm move date. Um, It’s 2020 and. No, COVID. Gotten in the way. And. In the meanwhile, , the best that I can do is just. Work on myself, do some personal development. Um, I haven’t left my apartment. I live in Manhattan. I haven’t went in my left. My apartment and. Over 130 days now. Um, you know, other than, you know, walking the dog and, , going to the grocery store, I mean, , I’m seeing the light of day, but, , it’s, it’s very isolating. So, um, I’ve been taking a really amazing, uh, acting process class over zoom, um, with, uh, Jeff saver. He’s a. Amazing. Uh, Uh, Broadway music. And, uh, has had his hand in so many projects that I can list as resume for hours. So I’m not gonna do that. Cause he, you know, This is about me. Isn’t it. 

[00:16:02]Um, But I’ve also, I’ve joined an accountability group super important. Um, I’ve been going to therapy, which is. Been everything. Of course everything’s over zoom. So thank goodness for. Um, , , these phones in our hands and this technology. Um, I’ve been working on my branding and my marketing skills and most importantly, um, I’m leaning into COVID and so I’ve been training to be a COVID compliance officer. And what that is. Um, basically, uh, this is a new, uh, department head role for,  non-union film sets right now. Um, and this, this role works alongside a set medic. And so my intention is just to be as well, rounded and prepared as possible. I might not ever take a job as a COVID compliance officer that that’s actually not even my intention. I just want to, um, Train in this. So at least it’ll look good on my resume so that I can, you. Just so it’s such as that I have the foresight to get the safety training while we’ve got really nothing going on to show that I care about,  my colleagues and other industry professionals. Um, but there are just, there’s a lot of free training classes online. And there are some that, , cost a small fee, but , if you do your research, you know, you might learn something and That’s what I’ve been working on. So. You know, I’m proud of, I’m proud of where I’m at.

[00:17:17]Dane Reis: [00:17:17] Fantastic. I love that. And I liked that you’re being proactive about being safe. And how do you protect the other people that you are working with as well as yourself? Um, I have kind of a similar thing because life kind of directed me towards the other side of the table and the tech side. And I started stage managing and things like this. And through that, I had to take OSHA 30, which is. 30 hours of a lot of stuff that doesn’t actually apply to the theater, but there is still so much great information in there that a lot of people can . Skim through it and just take the test, but there’s so many wonderful things . To learn in that, because look at the end of the day, you got to do it, right. So , . Let’s take the time to take it seriously and learn some things because it only benefits you and it could potentially really help your fellow actors.

[00:18:02]Dan O’Connor: [00:18:02] Sure sure. And it’s not really, for me, it’s not an act of, of politics. It’s just an act of respect, you know, like I just.  I have respect for myself and . I especially have respect for others and,  I just want to treat people the way that I want to be treated. 

[00:18:17] Dane Reis: [00:18:17] Fantastic. 

[00:18:17] Love it. And let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round.

[00:18:26] I yeah. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:18:38]Dan O’Connor: [00:18:38] Oh, I hope so. 

[00:18:39] Dane Reis: [00:18:39] All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:18:46]Dan O’Connor: [00:18:46] The little demon inside your head. You got a name that guy and tell him to fleck off. He’s a, he’s a, he’s a gray sprinkle on your rainbow cupcake, and you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

[00:18:55] Dane Reis: [00:18:55] Oh, I love it. Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:19:02]Dan O’Connor: [00:19:02] Never apologize for being you. The sun doesn’t apologize for being the sun. The rain doesn’t say, sorry for falling. You are enough.

[00:19:11]Dane Reis: [00:19:11] Love it. Third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:19:23]Dan O’Connor: [00:19:23] Uh, setting smart goals, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound goals. It would be the number one thing that has kept me in motion, especially during court food.

[00:19:32]Dane Reis: [00:19:32] Absolutely. And I love that you said time-bound because what does that law? I can’t remember it. Specifically if I Googled it, I suppose I could find it, but that . Uh, we’ll take as much time as they’re as time allowed to do a thing. 

[00:19:43]Dan O’Connor: [00:19:43] Right, right. 

[00:19:44] Dane Reis: [00:19:44] time bound goals. Even if that goal doesn’t end up coming to fruition, at least we have a deadline on it and we put that in our minds and we’re 

[00:19:53] Dan O’Connor: [00:19:53] Right. 

[00:19:54] Dane Reis: [00:19:54] move forward much faster.

[00:19:55]Dan O’Connor: [00:19:55] Sure on that structure and alone. It’s gotten me out of bed in the morning. Like in the beginning of COVID, I was just like, , I’m not doing it.  I can just sit and wallow for days. And I was like, no, I gotta get this done or else it’s never going to get done. So if I don’t get this done by three o’clock today, you know,  I’ve been setting my goals. So it’s been great.

[00:20:14]Dane Reis: [00:20:14] Fantastic. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology you found that is helping your career. Right now.

[00:20:29]Dan O’Connor: [00:20:29] Sure. Sure. Um, uh, I got a couple of bucks. At least five bucks. Um, uh, but definitely go to therapy.  that’s definitely. Important go to therapy and form an accountability group. And in that , Accountability group, , pool all your resources together. Um, but for books, um, uh, read, uh, uh, the inner game of tennis by Timothy Gallway, um, how to win friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie. Uh, the actor’s life by Jenna Fischer. I love that book. Um, I even love the better as an audio book, the artist’s way by Julia Cameron. And audition freedom by VP Boyle.

[00:21:00]Dane Reis: [00:21:00] Fantastic. All really fantastic books. And the fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry. What would you do or not do, would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:21:21]Dan O’Connor: [00:21:21] branding and marketing. I’d say branding and marketing. I am actively learning to get better. Um, I’ve learned that there’s a ton of free resources, and I’ve also learned that if you get stuck, you can invest in yourself, but invest in yourself wisely and make sure that whatever your best investing yourself in. Um, make sure that you’re properly vetting 

[00:21:39] all of those people. 

[00:21:41]Dane Reis: [00:21:41] Fantastic. And with branding and marketing, are you saying that in regards to your career, as an entertainer and marketing yourself, or are you talking about more of the art form of branding and marketing , generally speaking.

[00:21:54]Dan O’Connor: [00:21:54] Well, a little bit of both. 

[00:21:55] We were there for the birth of Facebook. You know, we were, we were there for the birth of YouTube and, , I just never took any of that seriously. And now there are performers that, , their whole careers are. You know, online and their influencers and,   , they’ve used these tools to help them, , interacting careers, but just in careers in general. . 

[00:22:14] Dane Reis: [00:22:14] Yeah, I, I agree with you.  Because of social media because of these online platforms, more than ever, we are now responsible for being our own PR company, our own marketers. And whether you like it or not, I should say. Having that presence online is a real thing these days. And when you submit for things, when you are auditioning for things, because these casting directors want to leverage your network of people 

[00:22:48] Dan O’Connor: [00:22:48] Yeah. Right. Totally. And, and the message that you’re putting out has to be  crystal clear.

[00:22:54]Dane Reis: [00:22:54] Absolutely. Absolutely. And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners?

[00:23:06]Dan O’Connor: [00:23:06] Oh, wow. Um, Yeah. You know, some people get lucky. But success is really different for everyone. But behind every successful person, there’s a lot of unsuccessful years. So you have to focus on your goals and not the obstacles and just. 

[00:23:24]Enjoy the ride. 

[00:23:25]Dane Reis: [00:23:25] I love that. That is so true. It’s easy to keep focused on the glitz and the glam. It’s easy to get focused on the story. People choose to share. Publicly on social platforms, but having success is a grind. It is hard. You have to stick with it. 

[00:23:42] Dan O’Connor: [00:23:42] Yeah. 

[00:23:43] Dane Reis: [00:23:43] All right. And to wrap up this interview, Dan, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:23:55]Dan O’Connor: [00:23:55] Oh, sure. So you can find me at my website, therealdano.co, um, That’s not calm. It’s just CEO. My Instagram handle link is on there. And then you can follow my cross-country journey at headedforhollywood.com. That’s headed the number four hollywood.com and you can tune into my independent sound, meet up, which is now streaming on Amazon. 

[00:24:17]Dane Reis: [00:24:17] Brilliant. And for everyone listening, I have put the links to everything he just said in the description  of this episode, so you can easily click and connect. Dan. It has been such a pleasure to have you want to talk to you to catch up. Thank you so much for being here. 

[00:24:33]Dan O’Connor: [00:24:33] Dane, I can gush over you with praise. This has been so much fun. Thanks for having me.