Danni Ravden: British Comedian
Before playing Svetlana, Ravden braved stages and screen in New York and Los Angeles for 8 years, performing in theatre (and typical of Hollywood, waiting tables in a diner)
In both the States and Europe, Danni trained as a nutritionist and genuine life coach. Along the way Danni travelled to India to train as a yoga teacher, and has been on many spiritual processes in an attempt to “find herself” (since then she realised she profoundly dislikes yoga) and the rest remains a mystery!
Returning to the stage, Ravden has gathered her training in wellness and psychology to bring to life her alter ego Svetlana Stanislav.
Born out of a rant video on social media, Svetlana has gained followers around the globe with her hilarious “self help” videos. Inspired by new-age Instagram life coaches and gurus, Svetlana is an “unconventional” life-coach, who offers some controversial advice to everyday problems whilst also enjoying a good old rant.
(Taken from danniravden.com)
TSM: Hi Danni, so awesome to have you in the magazine. Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to do an interview for TSM.
DR: Hi, you’re so welcome. Pleasure to have this chat!
TSM: How did you get into comedy?
DR: I would have to use the word fell into it rather than “got into” to be honest. I was trained as an actor in my 20’s while living in the states, but actually didn’t do comedy back then. The comedy happened many years later once I’d left that industry organically, and was born out of intuitive inspiration rather than any kind of life plan!
TSM: At what point in your life did you know that being a comedian was what you wanted to do in life? Is it something you dreamed of doing as a little girl?
DR: Definitely not! Again, these answers are probably not going to be what you expect. I think, as a little girl, I wanted to be in musical theatre. I was obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, but never comedy. I was, however, always the joker in school, and in life, and making people laugh always brought me joy. I am a huge fan of stand up comedy, and always thought how scary it looked. I certainly never pictured myself on stage doing it!
TSM: Can you recall your very first stand-up comedy act on stage?
DR: Yes, as it wasn’t that long ago! A couple years back now at La Sala in Puerto Banus. I was much more nervous than I thought, and my whole throat went dry. Literally, I couldn’t swallow for most of my act. I kept chugging water, but nothing was helping!
TSM: What is an embarrassing moment you’ve had on stage?
DR: The first gig I did, the lights kept changing colour and also blinding me. I was so nervous, as it was the first time I’d scripted a show. I was so distracted by the lights going mental that I totally lost my place, and all of sudden was like, “what the fuck am I even talking about.” The saving grace is the fact I’m in character when I’m on stage, and so “she” managed to somehow style it out for me. The audience were very kind, and actually shouted back to me where I had lost my place which was a relief!
TSM: What was the inspiration behind your main character Svetlana Stanislav?
DR: Svetlana is a life coach, but with a no bs attitude and some dark humour. The inspiration probably came from my own experience in my normal work life of being a counsellor and a nutritionist. She is more of an alter ego of mine, as opposed to a well designed and thought out character!
TSM: What inspired your characters Lemon, Mildred and Chantelle?
DR: Lemon is a total cliche. I lived in LA and came across many women like her over the years, I also trained as a yoga teacher myself in my 20’s, and so was exposed to the whole new age world. Her addiction to lip balm came from me discovering that lip balm anonymous is actually a real thing in LA, and screamed to have the piss taken out of it! Although, I do take addiction seriously and work with addicts in my real life. I found this particular addiction and her as a character great fun to play with.
Chantelle was born out of “bad brits on the Costa Del sol.” She’s a stereotype of certain people that grace the shores of sunny Spain every summer, and also many of the people who live in Marbella. The good thing is those people recognise themselves in her and can laugh at themselves rather than take offense. Well, most people!
And lastly, Mildred is my favourite and most complex character. She’s not for everyone and I suppose is more niche. She was born out of my own inner nutcase. She’s sort of a combination of a terrified small child, who’s not grown up, and my own mental health issues which I amped up, and put on steroids for this character.
Elements of my own personality show up in all of the characters. I may be making fun of something that I actually do myself. For example, those who know me know that I’m a bit of a new age hippy at heart. Svetlana despises hippies, and her favourite sport is “hippy hunting,” and making fun of the weird things they do (which I also do, just don’t tell Svetlana) 😉
TSM: What would you say are the most difficult challenges you face as a comedian?
DR: I suppose as an actor or comedian, rejection and criticism are going to be way up there. You’re exposing yourself for the public to say and do whatever they want, especially with social media trolls these days. So you need to develop fairly thick skin and a strong sense of self to be able to handle it, and I’m still a work in progress on that one. Also the current global climate, and everything moving towards being totally PC does not help. I don’t believe comedy should be included in this, or we’ll just have no freedom of speech, and become controlled robots who may as just give up hope! (rant rant rant) 😉
TSM: Who are some comedians you admire and look up to?
DR: observational humour is my favourite as I think as humans we can all relate. Some of my faves are: Ricky Gervais, especially with his risk taking; Michael McIntyre, for his observations and physical expressions; Amy Schumer, for her self deprecating and raunchy humour (omg, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used that word in a sentence, I’m clearly getting old) and Iliza Sheslinger, for her speed; energy and physical comedy.
TSM: What is one of your favourite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
DR: Rosalind Russel, an American actress once said, “Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.” I think she summed it up well!
TSM: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can readers find out more about you and your work?
DR: I have just launched my new website. I plan to add more characters on there over the coming year, and will be announcing any future shows via my site www.danniravden.com. So, I’d suggest subscribing to updates. As for future shows, who knows when those will take place, given the disaster that is Covid-19. We shall have to see!
TSM: Thanks so much again for doing an interview for TSM, and wish you all the best.
DR: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me!