Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 01/16/2020 – Jeana Reilly is an Award-Winning Writer, Producer, Actress, and Filmmaker.” DANNI,” has been an OFFICIAL SELECTION in 25 film festivals and has gone International. The film won Best Short Film twice. Jeana Reilly won Best Actress for her role as DANNI. “I wrote DANNI years ago. I always loved writing and wanted to explore writing this piece that explored relationship addiction in a domestic violent relationship. It started by hearing INTO THE MYSTIC by Van Morrison on the radio in my car. I had a dance scene in my head between two characters that were so vivid – I decided to go home and write it. I’m a survivor of domestic abuse so I wrote the script with the idea that no one would ever see it – giving me the creative freedom to take the script and story wherever I wanted to go – and not feel judged. I put the script in a drawer in my home but it was always on my mind. I took it out years later and showed it to a friend. It took years to get DANNI to the Award Winning short film it became.” – Jeana Reilly
Share your background.
I was born and raised in the Bronx where the Arts were not on top of the scholastic list. My beloved Mom always took me to the movies and exposed me to the magic it held. There was nothing like being part of a movie audience at the moment when the lights went down and you knew you were about to embark on a journey – losing yourself in the Actors and storyline. It was a way to escape for a delicious two hours.
I remember my very first audition which was for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. I was given a digest size monologue book. I was told to choose a monologue I wanted to perform. I remember thinking how amazing it was to read all these monologues with the opportunity to say words about different lives and different people. There was one bright spotlight shining on the theatre floor in the theatre for my audition. A Director, at the top of the theatre, sat waiting for me to begin. I was shy and extremely nervous but when I performed the monologue – I tapped into something I never felt before. It was euphoric – and I knew in my heart, body, and soul – I wanted to be an Actor. I held onto that monologue book and that feeling at the bus stop across the street from the school – knowing – that at the age of 19 – I had just experienced a life-changing moment. I studied at many of the well-known theatre schools in New York City – which is a blessing to any actor – as you learn the craft of acting from the best.
When was your first beak?
My first break was on my very first audition for a play. The play was TROUBLE AT THE AIRPORT LOUNGE. I was offered the role of Audrey, a stewardess. It ran at THE LOVINGER THEATRE in New York City and was a great learning experience.
What genres interest you? What roles do you look for?
I love drama. I tap into characters who have the hardest life struggles – alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes – characters who deal with profound loss. I find the broken and damaged – a beautiful place for an actor to explore humanity and this thing we call life…
Tell us about your film, “DANNI.”
I wrote DANNI years ago. I always loved writing and wanted to explore writing this piece that explored relationship addiction in a domestic violent relationship. It started by hearing INTO THE MYSTIC by Van Morrison on the radio in my car. I had a dance scene in my head between two characters that were so vivid – I decided to go home and write it. I’m a survivor of domestic abuse so I wrote the script with the idea that no one would ever see it – giving me the creative freedom to take the script and story wherever I wanted to go – and not feel judged. I put the script in a drawer in my home but it was always on my mind. I took it out years later and showed it to a friend. It took years to get DANNI to the Award Winning short film it became.
What was your inspiration for the film?
My inspiration for the film was that when I was seeking help in breaking free from my abuser, no therapist spoke about this relationship as an addiction. Yet – it felt like that to me. Breaking up was a physical withdrawal that was debilitating – like a withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. When I heard from this person (which should be the worst thing) – it felt like a fix – a high. I was addicted to him and he to me. I felt that if it was discussed as an addiction, I could have understood the help I needed to break free. I hope that DANNI might help someone who might not understand why they’re still there or who are having trouble breaking it off. Why we forgive and go back. There are certainly a lot of reasons – but I felt that the addiction aspect – was clearly missed.
What awards have you won and what do they mean to you?
DANNI has been an OFFICIAL SELECTION in 25 film festivals and has gone International. The film won Best Short Film twice. I was HONORED when I won Best Actress for my role as Danni – a moment I’ll NEVER forget. It meant I was acknowledged for my work as an Actress – a Writer – and Survivor of Domestic Abuse. That I was heard – through my performance, my words and my personal journey of survival.
Why do you think this film is resonating with the audience?
I think the film resonates, especially with survivors of domestic abuse, because it’s a different view than most films about domestic abuse. Women have come up to me after a Film Festival with tears in their eyes. I’ve been told by audience members “you got it”. I’ve had a woman come up to me, stare at me with tears in her eyes and say “You’re Danni” and wrap her arms around me as she sobbed. Nothing can ever describe the feeling of reaching out to these women from the screen to their heart – total strangers – and knowing we just shared something between us that has reached us deep inside.
Who would you like to work with?
I would love to work with Indie Writers and Directors who tap into the broken and damaged with their stories. Indie films are some of the best films out there. Creative souls who might have a different perception of a story already told. I’d love to work with actors who challenge me and disappear with me in character – actors who take me to a place I haven’t been yet.
What is next for you?
Because of the success of DANNI, I kept having this indescribable feeling that it was supposed to be something more – a bigger message. I finished the feature film script of DANNI. The story is very similar – yet very different – which was exciting to me as the writer. I didn’t expect that when I started it – but that’s what it became. I’m proud to say I cast an unbelievable cast for the feature film – and cannot wait to work with each and every one of them.
TAKE IT TO THE STAGE FILMS/Jeana Reilly is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
DANNI is also available on VIMEO and AMAZON PRIME VIDEO (U.K.). DANNI is on DIRECTV/SHORTSTV Channel.
DANNI was also chosen to be part of the FIRST – AMAZON ALL VOICES FILM FESTIVAL.