By Christopher A. Pape
When Danielle Savre enters the room, all heads turn. She is a beacon of brightness in this grey world. Her energy, enthusiasm and vivaciousness shine through. The hottest actress today is humble enough to think her recent string of successes is merely good luck. I, however, think her talent and hard work have made her what she is today. This humility also shone through as she gave us an abundance of time to speak on a wide range of issues.
What follows is an enthralling interview, which showcases this actress at her fullest. I hope you love the interview as much as I loved meeting Danielle!
Christopher Pape (CP): Tell us a little bit about yourself? From the beginning, please.
Danielle Savre (DS): I was born and raised in Simi Valley, California. It’s on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I got, or I should say fell, into acting at 7 years old. Even though it sounds hard to believe, the mom of my best friend in second grade was an agent at one of the leading child acting/modeling agencies in California. She knew I would be perfect, because she thought I was a little adult. She said I was 7 going on 30. My mother was very apprehensive at the time, but she finally relented after I kept bugging her. I met with my friend’s mother and her boss, without my mother in the room, and they brought me on as a client.
My first audition was with Mattel, and I ended up signing a two-year deal with them. I was on the boxes of Barbie, Cabbage Patch and Plooy Pocket. I modeled for Mattel and American Girl in Florida and Wisconsin. I did K-Mart and JCPenney. At 12, I started auditioning for acting parts and was hired on my third try. Gavin O’Connor, the director of the project (who has gone on to do wonderful things), hired me on the spot. I couldn’t believe it. I kept asking him if he was serious. I was so happy!
I really got into acting and hired an acting coach, whom I’m still with today, and I dedicated myself to the craft. My parents insisted I maintain a 3.5 GPA, and having done so, I was able to accelerate my classes and graduate high school at the age of 15. Almost immediately after that, I landed my first television series part on a show called Summerland on the WB. The rest is history!
CP: The main reason we are featuring you is for the new spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy, Station 1, you are starring in. Can you give us some background on it?
DS: Our first episode airs on March 22. There is only one character who is a crossover from Grey’s Anatomy: Jaina Lee Ortiz. Otherwise, we are all new characters with a new environment from the mind of the wonderful Shonda Rhimes.
CP: What is the premise of the story?
DS: The premise of the story revolves around a group of seven firefighters and three women, which is badass, and four men. It is narrated from the perspective of Jaina Lee Ortiz. It portrays the everyday occurrences and lives of these men and women who risk their lives for the greater good. On top of all that, it delves into the relationships of the characters and the dynamics between one another.
My character, Maya Bishop, can best be related to Cristina of Grey’s Anatomy, played by Sandra Oh, because I am Andy Herrera’s (Jaina Lee Ortiz) best friend. They would do anything for each other. Maya is Andy’s number one support and there to cheer her on. My character is there to give the best advice as possible and keep Andy levelheaded. Of course, there is a love triangle, and Andy’s father is the captain of the station, so much drama ensues.
You get to hear and see from each character every episode, which is super exciting. The show also delves into the backstory of each character, and as the plot develops, we learn more and more about each of them.
CP: Tell us more about Maya Bishop.
DS: Maya is an ex-Olympian. She won Olympic gold for running the 10k at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She has an amazing background. She decided to retire from running and become a firefighter. As the story unfolds, we learn why she decided to switch careers. Obviously, to be an Olympian, she has an unbridled drive and passion for what she did and currently does. She loves fighting fires, she loves saving people’s lives, but she also loves life. She is a girl of her times, as I like to say, because she is open to everything and anything that is thrown at her.
CP: The first season is 10 episodes?
DS: Yes. We air after Grey’s Anatomy and before How to Get Away with Murder, so we fill the spot of the recently-ended Scandal. What’s great about our premiere night is that it is a two-hour episode. We will continue to air past the finale of Grey’s Anatomy. And hopefully, if all goes well, we start filming again in the fall!
CP: Is there a lot of diversity in the cast? I would assume so since this is a Shonda production.
DS: Yes! We have a Latina lead, which I think is amazing. We have a biracial member of the cast, Barrett Doss, who plays Victoria Hughes and a biracial Asian/white character and of course, Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan (of Hamilton fame), a Nigerian-American.
CP: A little bird told me that your sister is a real-life firefighter?
DS: Yes, she is!
CP: Have you drawn inspiration from her?
DS: Absolutely. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this role for the last four years. For me, this role was meant to be because of who my sister is. I look up to her so much. And the most exciting thing is, she gets to come to set to double for me while driving the firetruck, because obviously, I have no idea how to do that. She’ll come to set and put the hat on; that way they don’t have to hide my character when there’s a driving scene.
CP: Your family must have been super excited when you got this role.
DS: It was surreal how this happened. In fact, my sister and I were just talking about all this. When we did the training for this role, the production company took us out to San Pedro, so we could learn about being a firefighter. It was the actual drill tower where my sister trained. The same captain was there too. Talk about full circle!
CP: On a personal note, what do you do for fun?
DS: I’m very happy to say that a lot of times, the cast gets together on the weekends, and we really love getting to know each other. Otherwise, my time off these days is either getting a massage or going to the movies.
CP: Last question, tell me about the charities you’re involved with.
DS: I just finished a race (5 miles in length) for My Friend’s Place, a great organization that provides housing and services for homeless youth. The homeless rate in LA is horribly high, and I’m proud to be involved with that. In addition, the entire cast was on Celebrity Family Feud, and we donated all the money to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. I’m very proud to be involved with both.