Danielle Egnew Factor
Inside the Mind of a Modern Day Genius
Interview by Kate P. Thurber
a sunny and sizzling day in Los Angeles, I had the coolest
seat in town. Ironically, my seat was cool because it
was next to the hottest lesbian commodity in Hollywood.
At Jerry’s Deli in Studio City, it was my extreme
pleasure to share a candid conversation with the power-sexy,
in-demand, multi-talented creative visionary that freely
writes her own heavy-hitting Hollywood ticket: Danielle
Egnew. From fronting the power-cult band Pope Jane to
playing talk jock on her own nationally syndicated radio
show, this luscious yet ingenious rock star / actor
/screenwriter / talk radio host agreed to meet with
me between recording her upcoming album and appearing
in a string of films, to shed some light on what it’s
like to live in her genius skin.
tell me, how do you handle the pressure of being known
in Hollywood as a non-stop creative genius?
DE: (Big laugh) Oh, is that what they’re
calling it these days? My dad calls it “my disease”
(Laughs). That’s very gracious of you. I don’t
really get the mystery of it, or the pressure part.
I don’t feel any pressure to perform, I just do
what I do. It’s not a big deal. Creating is fun
for me, whether it’s recording an album, writing
a screenplay or scoring a film, acting, oil painting,
underwater basket weaving, whatever! (Laughs.) It’s
something that I just do, and the more I do, the more
relaxed I feel in my brain. It’s really not as
mystical or as hard as everybody makes it sound.
not for you. When you were a child, did you always see
yourself growing up and becoming a rock star?
DE: (Smiles) No, not at all. I actually wanted
to be an astronaut, but my math grades weren’t
good enough and my eyesight is really bad, so that took
me out of the running at the time because the astronauts
used to have to be military pilots first. And the military
required pilots to have 20/20 vision, so between the
bad eyes and the bad math, I was doomed. But now they
have the Space Shuttle, where they plop scientists with
coke-bottle glasses up into space. So who knows, maybe
I’ll see space yet, you never know.
can’t picture you as an astronaut.
DE: Really? I think the hair would great in
space. (Laughs) Seriously, my biggest dream was to be
an astronaut, and I still spend a lot of time reading
about quantum physics and other nerdy Discovery Channel
stuff. I’m fascinated by science. I always have
here on earth, what’s it like to be an out, lesbian
DE: Well, I don’t think it is any different
from being a straight performer. That’s like saying,
“What’s it like to be an out lesbian at
the grocery store?” The pitfalls of the entertainment
industry affect everyone equilaterally, indiscriminate
of anyone’s sexual orientation. It’s a tough,
ugly business full of desperate people, and that frenetic
energy impacts a soul no matter what gender you’re
do you find that being an out lesbian limits the opportunities
that are offered to you?
DE: No, not for me. I’ve never found
that it was a problem. I mean, I have had other people
think it was going to be a problem, and that caused
problems. Like the management for Pope Jane. They were
on me all the time to shut up about it, but I consider
it to be such a non issue that I found myself answering
questions [about sexuality] honestly. I seem to get
a lot of offers to play lesbians in films, which I figure
I can probably handle (Laughs).
management wanted you to stay in the closet? How could
you handle that?
DE: Well, this was back in the early nineties,
we’re talking pre Will and Grace, here, so that
type of attitude was par for the course back then. There
was still an unspoken rule that if you were gay, you
shouldn’t say anything because it might cost you
[album] sales. Melissa [Etheridge] didn’t come
out until the later nineties, and even that was a real
wild card thing to do. They [management] were just terrified
that if people knew some of us in the band were gay,
we’d never get a record deal.
being gay affect you getting a record deal?
DE: No. The labels had a bunch of other issues
with us, but being gay wasn’t one of them. Mostly
because everyone already knew about it, so it wasn’t
like some big secret was going to break and ruin our
careers. That’s the thing about closeted performers
– they spend a lot of energy playing down their
homosexuality, but people can smell that type of deliberate
secrecy a mile away, and they pursue it. No one is interested
in your personal life if you’re willing to talk
about it (Laughs).
story sounds almost ideal. Most gay performers have
horror stories to tell.
DE: Well I’ve got horror stories to tell,
but they’re not about being a lesbian in entertainment!
your worst horror story?
DE: My worst horror story? Geez…(thinks).
The one that comes to mind is when I found out that
someone who I thought was a friend in my personal circle
was actually an internet stalker that had been dogging
me for a year, all over the web. I mean, we’re
not talking little stupid comments about my butt being
fat or my clothes being ugly, we’re talking launching
vicious hate campaigns and personal attacks all over
every chat board out there, and it was really hurtful.
And it wasn’t just me she was after, it was anything
I had to do with, like the members of Pope Jane, and
even my partner at the time.
would a person who claimed to be your friend do this?
DE: I have no clue. Attention, maybe? This
stalker woman started out as a fan, and the whole time
she was coming to my Pope Jane concerts, buying our
CD’s and acting all buddy-buddy, she was hacking
me up on the web! It was pretty traumatic, and it ended
up costing me a lot in my personal life, which was devastating.
But the worst part was that this friend of mine was
going on and on with me about how horrible the stalking
problem was, and the whole time, she was the stalker!
really scary. So how did you finally find out about
DE: Oh, this gets better. Another friend of
mine, who I also met first as a fan, tipped me off that
this particular woman was the stalker – and as
if it couldn’t get weirder, the turned-in stalker
then exposed the woman who had turned her in, my OTHER
friend, as being part of the whole stalker plot! They
were a hate tag team, hanging out with me by day, and
littering message boards with hate mail by night! The
second stalker woman went psycho on me publicly after
she was busted, on the internet, laughing about how
stupid I was because I never caught on, and how much
she hated me the whole time, blah blah blah. It was
of your fan-turned-friends both ended up being crazed
DE: Yeah. I felt like a complete idiot. It
was really horrible to find out that people you trusted
were not who you thought they were. And they had this
really twisted idea of who I was, like I deserved what
I was getting…I still don’t get it. You‘d
think you would know if someone was doing something
like that, but the type of people who would do that
are very pathological, and it’s hard to clock
those types of people. That situation has made me a
lot more cautious, unfortunately. I sort of had to clean
house, so to speak, and start again on a lot of levels.
it looks like you’ve done a good job. Your career
has branched from music into film. Did you see that
DE: Maybe subconsciously. I’ve always
loved film. I love to act in it, I love to score it,
I love to write it – I just love it.
can’t believe how multi-talented you are. Tell
me about the screenplays you’ve written that were
DE: (Laughs) Man, that was a wild ride. One
script I wrote, a metaphysical thriller, got optioned
and a year later, after 16 re-writes to get it into
blockbuster shape, the Producer ended up making some
serious changes to the script that to this day I cringe
and gnash my teeth at the very thought of, but that’s
what the version they’re pushing. There’s
no accounting for taste in this business (Laughs).
didn’t have any say in what ultimately happened
to the script?
DE: No, not in the end, not with that Producer.
When someone holds an option, it means they officially
have the last say, unless the option states otherwise,
but most don’t. It’s really a typical story:
a writer thinks they have something brilliant, it [the
script] gets developed, the writer makes concessions
and turns it in to the Producer, then it gets filleted,
sliced and diced, and served up very differently all
in the name of better development. You just pray and
hope that the script you spent a year killing yourself
over, which is now this sliced and diced thing you barely
recognize and really don’t like, will still sell.
brutal! But you seem to handle it well.
DE: That’s entertainment. You just didn’t
see me when I was hysterically sobbing and chewing a
hole in my pillow! (Laughs)
known for turning out great screenplays at record speed.
Have you always written?
DE: Yeah, I guess I have. I used to write my
own material in high school for my competitive drama
competitions. I wrote a lot of plays while I was in
college in Arizona, and they got produced by little
theaters around. I also wrote for a theater troupe in
Seattle that I co-founded. So the screenwriting came
pretty naturally, although I think it’s a lot
harder because you have to say less and show more, which
is a bit of a challenge when you’re dealing in
a medium of words.
you’re acting now, too?
DE: Finally, yes, I am getting back to it.
My background is actually in theater, in acting. I was
going to be an actor, and I had two full ride scholarships
for theater from two different universities [University
of Arizona, Eastern Montana College], but then I ended
up getting a little Indie record deal up in Seattle
in 1991, and that kicked me into music full time, so
I really shelved the acting then. It’s kind of
funny how life takes you full circle.
upcoming films can we see you in, leading lady?
DE: (Laughs) Well, I’ll be “Dexy”
in Melody and Harmony, a LyonHart Films release written
and directed by Teresa Crespo–Hartendorp. That
starts shooting this summer. And this is further off,
but I’ll be playing “Jane” in my own
original screenplay called Imogene’s Waltz that’s
being made into a feature film. I’ll be working
with Producer and Director Susan Turley on that after
she’s done with her upcoming film Changing Spots.
Susan also produced and directed The M.O. of M.I., the
gay suspense thriller that was a huge festival hit,
so I’m really feeling fortunate to be able to
work with her. Both these women are brilliant, talented
directors, and they’re great people on top of
chance we’d be lucky enough for either of these
films to show you in a steamy lesbian love scene?
DE: (Big laugh) Uh…yeah. In both of them.
steamy do these scenes get?
DE: Now you’re just going to have to
wait and see, aren’t you?
you only act in gay-themed films?
DE: (Smiles) No, of course not. But films with
gay and lesbian content are really big right now because
there’s an enormous audience that wants to see
them. Geez, look at how the L Word took off, nobody
expected that! So Producers are actively looking for
strong material with gay themes, and I just keep getting
cast, which I’m thrilled about, I might add.
all this filming, is there anything new on the music
front for Pope Jane fans?
DE: Oh sure. I’m finishing up my solo
album, WildLamb, as we speak. It should have been done
by now, but the script work really cut into the recoding
time. Pope Jane is on hiatus while I do all my movie
stuff, but my solo album will be finished by this summer.
had so many successes. If you could change one thing
about your life, what would it be?
DE: Oh, I need to think about that a minute,
here…(thinks) One thing. I’d change is what
I studied in college. I had scholarships for theater,
and I took them, but if I had it to do again I would
definitely be a Quantum Physics major. There’s
just too much about the science of the infinitesimal
that fascinates me, and I really am a frustrated quantum
mechanic. There’s nothing worse than an armchair
a quantum mechanic?
DE: I don’t even know if that’s
really a term, but it would be somebody who studies
quantum mechanics. You know, the nuts and bolts of why
the infinitesimal works the way it does, even beyond
a molecular level. Smaller than atoms, that kind of
thing. Space and time bending. That’s all so interesting
to me. I’ve got my own theories about things.
I’ve written a paper on what I think Dark Matter
is, and another one covering my personal theory of the
disappearance and reappearance of atoms.
What do you plan on doing with these theories?
DE: (Big Laugh) Not much! I don’t think
NASA really wants to hear theories on quantum mechanics
from some chick in L.A. with no formal science background
who acts in lesbian dramas and sings in a band!
of bizarre theories, your syndicated talk radio show,
The High Road, has received a lot of acclaim for the
way you handle some controversial subject matter. Tell
me about that.
DE: I don’t know why the subject matter
is considered controversial, but it is. I talk about
spiritual physics, which is not much different than
quantum mechanics, but dealing with the actual physical
effect of intention. You know, I talk about how to make
miracles happen in your life.
know how to do that?
DE: Well it’s not a secret. We’re
all miracle machines, and we’re capable of manifesting
anything we want, good or bad, in this three dimensional
universe where free choice is the big wild card. People
get a little freaked out by the thought that we, as
a human race, are capable of manifesting miracles, because
they see it as a blasphemous claim. But it’s not.
You’re not challenging God by accepting that you
are capable of bringing through miracles. You are honoring
God’s design of infinite creation by accepting
that you are infinitely creative.
you believe every average Joe can make miracles happen?
DE: I absolutely do. The problem is that as
a society, we think that miracles come from some other
mystical source, when in fact, they come from our willingness
to accept something happening that is out of the ordinary,
and then our willingness to accept that we can create
that something. If we don’t accept it, it can’t
happen. It’s that free will thing; The Universe
-- God -- doesn’t rape people with miracles.
why a talk radio show like this? Talk radio is usually
DE: Well, because this message of hope, of
the truth about how we work on a miraculous spiritual
level, needs to get out there, even if it’s right
before Stern! (Laughs) We’re being told that we
can’t change anything in our lives, that any minute
the terrorists are going to come and blow up Anytown,
USA. There is such a fear consciousness that’s
running the world right now, especially in our country.
But it’s all BS. We’re not victims who can
change nothing, we are good, powerful sentient beings
who can affect a lot of positive change if we’ll
just quit buying into the 1950’s fear propaganda
illusion and tap into our true potential, our miracle
you always been such a deep thinker?
DE: Hey, I was born and raised in Montana.
There’s not much else to do up there besides think
people surprised to find out that you have a big brain
beneath that beauty?
DE: Sometimes, yeah, they are. Most people
in entertainment are pretty self-absorbed, and I think
people expect you to be that Bling-slinging bad-ass
that rolls up with the limo and the attitude. I’m
way too nerdy for that stuff. I’d rather figure
out why atoms disappear and play Yahtzee with my friends
last thing, on that note. You’re such a physically
beautiful woman and your features are just stunning
. Do you find that your body gets in the way of people
taking your art seriously?
DE: My Body? (Big Laugh) No, no it hasn’t…(Still
Laughing) I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m
not trying to be rude, it’s just that…I
don’t think of myself like that, like some big
sexy thing. I’m flattered beyond belief that people
think that, I really am honored to the core by it. I
mean, I’m happy with the way I look, I just see
myself according to my abilities, rather than my physical
self, I guess. I think that’s how most people
deal with me, through that perspective.
have to confess, you’re a lot more down to earth
than I thought you’d be.
DE: Really? How did you think I’d be?
look very intense. I thought you would be more intimidating.
DE: Me? (Laughs) Oh dear Lord, hardly! I’m
a giant dork from Montana, how intimidating can that
Danielle Egnew’s website: www.DanielleEgnew.com