You may have seen her in shows like Veep, AP Bio and NCIS, or co-hosting “Let’s Make a Deal” with Wayne Brady. In this episode, I’m talking with Danielle Demski about work-life balance and the newly changing world of TV.
Amanda: The one thing everyone seems to be searching for, whether they work for themselves or for someone else, is work-life balance for you. You’re an actor, a TV host, which means your schedule can be demanding and unpredictable. Your husband is also an actor, and now you have two little ones at home. From the outside, it seems like you have figured out that balance, but how do you make it all work?
Danielle: I’m doing a pretty good job of making it look like it from the outside. That’s good to know. Although the inner workings of it are a lot messier, I’m sure. So I just recently went from a family of three to a family of four. I have a three-month-old – we decided to have a baby in the middle of a pandemic. Perfect timing. So I have a three-year-old and then a three-month-old and balancing with our three year old, it hasn’t been too difficult. But granted, that’s one kid. So we had my mom who’s been really, really helpful and a nanny on board to help when when we’re both working. Because our schedules are, they’re not super predictable. Neither one of us is at work from 9a-5p, Monday through Friday. So jobs come up the last minute, or maybe you’re shooting out of town for a week. You just have to really kind of go with the flow. And it’s nice being married to somebody who also works in the business. I think we both get it. We both are okay with kind of the… the craziness of it all… and we understand it and just try to help each other out as much as possible. And there’s times where I’ve got two kids and he’s working. And right now is such a weird time because we’re not using a babysitter or a nanny because of everything that we’re dealing with right now is the Coronavirus. And so we don’t really have that option. It’s an interesting situation these days.
Amanda: You’re currently co-hosting “Let’s Make a Deal” with Wayne Brady, so usually there’s a live audience in front of you. You do a lot of red carpets or you’re dealing with people. I know you like to travel, I’m not sure if that’s always for work, or that’s for fun, too. But all of those things have kind of disappeared. How are you adapting to that? Are you still finding work? Is it more just adjusting and doing more of these remote type things?
Danielle: Well, the funny thing is, I have a three-month-old. So having a newborn baby, I was kind of planning on being on lockdown anyway because of being at home with an infant for the first few months of life. So I wasn’t really looking for work or thinking that I was going to be working much during this time. So that hasn’t been a big shift. But yeah, I mean the entertainment industry just kind of shut down and just now slowly opening back up, having auditions. I’ve talked to friends who’ve gone on auditions where they’re socially distancing people and, you know, you’re going in with your mask and you’re not shaking hands and there’s just this whole new world. But it’s slowly opening back up but there’s still not a lot of productions that are that are going full speed ahead yet. So yeah, there’s not a lot of work right now. We’re also not comfortable yet getting on planes and flying around places So it’s a whole new world. And like you said, I do – I love to travel both for work and for fun, so it’s hard. I’m used to planning my next trip and figuring out where our next adventure is. And we’re like, all right, our next adventure is taking a walk around the block. It’s a whole new thing.
Amanda: It’s very strange. And then also wondering how the industry is going to be moving forward, there are some people that are starting to open up and start shooting things again. And I just took this COVID compliance officer class to learn all about how sets are supposed to work now. I do enjoy the element of socializing on a set – it’s always a lot of fun. Even though sometimes you’re working these long 10- or 12-hour days, usually the crew makes it enjoyable. Now all of the social aspect is gone. So now it almost has to be a love of the work itself. I’m not sure I have that, being behind the camera. I’m enjoying working remotely and supporting other people right now. That’s been great for me, but I don’t really have any interest in being on a set for 10 hours anytime soon. Does this change the way you’re thinking about the future moving forward? Or do you still really want to keep acting and hosting and all the fun things that you do?
Danielle: I love what I do, so in any capacity I’ll continue working, I’m sure, in this business. But yeah, I mean, for me too. I love the socialization. I love getting to know my coworkers, and my co-host, and the crew that I’m working with, or the audience. Especially on a show like “Let’s Make a Deal,” where you have a lot of audience interaction, and that is the show – a lot of people together in tight knit quarters, screaming – and that’s just not going to be happening anytime soon. So yeah, I mean, productions are going to change and a show like that, that’s something that we’ll probably have to wait for a while to come back the way that it should be shot. I think production is changing and producers are trying to figure out new things to shoot, new ways to shoot. Last year and the year before, I’ve actually done a Toyota campaign with my husband Ethan, where we were traveling all over the country and doing sort of a road trip style shoot for Toyota, which was so much fun and awesome to try out all these different cars. And now I’m going, oh, like this is the future, like people are not getting on planes anymore. A road trip – that’s what people are doing. So shooting stuff like that, where you can socially distance and still make a great product, I think that’s probably the future for a while at least.
Amanda: Travel is one of my main hobbies – it’s travel and concerts. And I can’t do either of those things right now. It’s not that I don’t like road trips, but I don’t like driving.
Danielle: You just have to find somebody to drive for you. And then you can sit there and relax.
Amanda: Yes. So that’s on my list of things I need, is a chauffeur. I would also like a personal chef, if we’re throwing things out there. So I know you have a lot of support with your husband. Are there any tricks that you’ve found now that you’re being in the same space? Because a lot of people right now that didn’t work from home before are now working from home, and having small children at home who need more attention or get bored more easily. Is there anything that you’ve found that is helping? I know yours are a little bit younger, so maybe it’s not that… I mean, the newborn has no idea. Not a big deal. It’s like, oh, as long as that baby’s getting fed and sleeping, it’s probably okay.
Danielle: Yes, except for when it decides it wants to cry, or it needs attention in the middle of a big… I mean, the work that we’re mainly doing right now from home has been voiceover work, which is great. It hasn’t changed much. The majority of voiceover work that I’ve done, and the majority of the voiceover work that my husband has done, has all been like 95% of it from home, in our home studio. So that’s great that that’s kind of continued as it was before. But then there’s just the balance of like, if he has a session, then we’re like handing off kids and he’s like, okay, now you got them and then I’ll run down there like an hour later, and then it’s like, okay, now it’s your turn and you hand off the kid. It’s funny, I had a lot of friends when I was pregnant with my son who kept telling us that this is going to be great, great timing. “Your daughter is going to be in preschool, so you’ll have the day where she’s in preschool, and then your son will be at home with you. And maybe, you know, if you need to bring in a babysitter. This’ll be so be great. It’ll be really easy.” Nope. That went out the window. I’m sure like everybody right now is kind of juggling and figuring out a whole new reality. And for people who are actually homeschooling right now, that’s a whole other challenge. I mean, I don’t really have to homeschool a three-year-old other than doing puzzles and playing dress up and that sort of thing. But if you’re doing real homeschool with an elementary, junior high, high school kid, it’s overwhelming.
Amanda: And trying to work full time on top of that.
Danielle: And trying to work full time.
Amanda: Part of the reason I wanted to ask you about it is because that is one thing that so many business owners are struggling with. How do you manage the work and the family, especially in this current situation? I can’t weigh in on that because I don’t have the kids. I have it so easy because my house is completely quiet. I have control over my environment. It’s not difficult for me and I’ve been working from home for a long time. So I always like to ask other people who have more relatable situations to weigh in on it.
Danielle: And I have girlfriends who also don’t have the kid or a husband or anybody else to deal with at home. And I’m like, oh, that sounds really nice. My friend, she’s like, “Yeah, I’m drinking wine and like binge watching Netflix during the quarantine.” Like, wow, that sounds really, really lovely. But then there’s also the side of I’ve really loved spending more time with my family and not being distracted, where we had to come up with stuff to do. We’re not going on a vacation together. We’re not going out to eat. We’re not going over to a friend’s house. She’s not going to school. So it’s doing game night at home. It’s watching movies. It’s playing dress up together. That’s been pretty cool, just having that time together, and having both me and my husband home together a lot, which also can be good and bad. So it’s like, maybe starting to get on each other’s nerves and it’s kind of nice to have the family time. And now I’m ready. Let’s get back to work. I’ve had my family time.
Amanda: It goes back to that balance. Too much family time and you’re ready to go back to work again.
Danielle: Yeah, exactly.
Amanda: I know you’re a sports nut. You were Miss Arizona, and you were an NFL cheerleader. You’ve hosted things for the Super Bowl and you had a show on the Tennis Channel. You’re kind of in that world, but you also really like to watch sports and participate in the events themselves. Are you missing that quite a bit right now, too?
Danielle: Oh, yeah, I’m a huge NFL fan. So for me not having the NFL season start. It sucks. But at the same time, I understand why they can’t do it right now, and having thousands of people crowded in together in a stadium, screaming and shouting – it’s not the best idea. So until we can figure out that situation, then I understand why they have to do it. Or you know, like they with the NBA how they’ve kind of like quarantined everybody together. Maybe they’ll do something like that with the NFL, and at least bring it back so we can watch on TV, and keep the players playing and keep the game on TV at least. So we’ll see. We’re at such an odd place in time. Five months ago, I would never in a million years have thought we would be where we are right now. It would never have even crossed my mind that giving a hug is like a terrible thing. It’s a weird, weird place. And I know we’re all going to come back from this, we’re going to go back to normal eventually. And we’re going to get through this, but it’s going to take time. And it’s hard while it’s happening.
Amanda: Adaptability becomes such an important trait, because we can’t always control everything. You might have had all these gigs lined up, and you’re going to be on this show and that show, and those shows aren’t being produced right now. And when they do… again, with the distance thing, there’s certain types of scenes you can’t film anymore because it’s not safe, and people are going to have different levels of comfort. And it’s probably going to change the entire way what we as the viewer see, because stories have to be written differently to accommodate the distance and how you can physically shoot things and still be safe right now.
Danielle: Yeah. I think we’re going to see a whole new side of production, and what they’re able to shoot. Because we need content, and especially now where people are spending more time at home, we want good content to watch on TV. So yeah, they’re going to have to figure out some new ways to do things, some new production styles that will work better right now, until we can get back to normal way of producing. Like the show I did on the Tennis Channel – I mean, where you’re interviewing athletes. and you’re working out with athletes. and you’re right next to each other. and it just couldn’t happen right now. Or show like “Let’s Make a Deal” again, where there’s screaming audience members who are two inches apart from each other, but you have to figure out a new way to do that.
Amanda: The current season of “Let’s Make a Deal,” it’s been filmed already so people can’t get mad if they see you on TV interacting with the loud screaming people. It was shot before this happened.
Danielle: Right. I had a lot of people… it’s funny, when the season started airing in March, where social distancing and lockdown started, a lot of people like emailing and on social media saying like, “What are you guys doing? This is so unsafe. You can’t shoot this.” I’m like, “Oh, don’t worry. It was shot like, months before this this thing ever started.”
Amanda: When you’re not in this industry, you forget that things happen. They’re not always live even though they’re “supposed” to be live. Behind the curtain, there’s other stuff going on. You guys are completely safe. You and Wayne Brady are not hanging out and engaging in large audiences at the moment.
Danielle: No, unfortunately not. One day.
Amanda: Did you already have a lot of episodes in the can?
Danielle: Yeah, that season was completely done. So by the time it actually ended, I think right before everything got crazy. So yeah, that was completely finished. And then, you know, just waiting on seeing what will happen with season 12 when they feel comfortable starting to shoot that again. And then I had some other projects that were kind of lined up and ready to go, and those are kind of put on hold right now. So we’ll see. One of them was actually a travel project. So that just you know, goes right out the window for a while. It’s a weird, weird time. And hopefully once things calm down more, and we’re in a better place, those will come back or they’ll figure out a new way to shoot them. But yeah, I think we’re all going through a weird time. Everybody’s trying to figure something out no matter what business you’re in and juggling a lot. And like they say, we’re all in this together. We really are. Everybody’s dealing with this in one way or another. I’m sure it’s hard for everyone.
Amanda: Well, I hope all of your projects come back, hopefully not all at the same time. Because that’s what seems to happen is… that other side of balance is you’ll have all this peaceful, quiet time, and then everything will come back and you have to jump back in full force, but I know you’ll be great at whatever it is you do.
Danielle: Thank you. It’s funny, I had something that was supposed to be starting. We’re gonna start shooting early September. So I was like, oh, this will be perfect. I’ll have some time, you know, with my baby at home before we start shooting again. And now I’m like, Oh, I’m gonna have even more time. So that’s nice. That’s one of the positives.
Amanda: Enjoy that time with your family. Where can people find you if they want to learn more about Danielle Demski?
Danielle: Well, if you’re on Instagram, I’m on Instagram @danielledemski and on Twitter @danielle_demski. Somebody snatched up that Danielle Demski before I could get to it
Amanda: Is “Let’s Make a Deal” still on the air in reruns? Can they still see you there?
Danielle: Yeah, there are currently new episodes are airing and then they’ll start showing some repeats. You can check me out there on “Let’s Make a Deal.” Just check your local listings on CBS. Take a look, and hopefully it’ll bring a little smile to your day.
Amanda Thank you for taking the time to join me today. I appreciate you.
Danielle: Of course. Thanks. It was fun talking to you.
Learn more about Danielle at http://www.danielledemski.com/