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Influential Women Spotlight: Sarah Daniels

Alright it’s been a while, but I’m excited to introduce another awesome young woman in this week’s Influential Woman Spotlight. Sarah Daniels is a life-long performer. Growing up in Florida in the town that Disney built, Sarah started dancing at 3 years old, and it quickly became evident that performing would be her career. By age 8 Sarah had done her first professional ballet, and at 13 was touring the country with a Disney show called “Bear in the Big Blue House.” This year she’s starred as Sophie in Mamma Mia, and is currently working in Toronto on Grease.

Sarah has also spent years performing as various Disney princesses, bringing to life all of our favorite, inspirational leading Disney women. Now, her career has evolved to include not only acting in theatre and musicals, but content creation on the rapidly growing Twitch platform. As Twitch’s PVE Princess, Sarah is most well known for her involvement in Bungie’s popular Destiny franchise, as she consistently brings viewers into her streams to help lead them through the difficult end-game content the games have to offer.

I’ve been fortunate enough to not only be one of those viewers to play with Sarah, but also to have met and spent time with Sarah in person. We met at last year’s Guardian Con, a convention for gamers and Twitch streamers that meet with the goal of raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital (last year the event raised over $1.2 million). Sarah is as sweet and cheerful as you’d imagine she would be after watching her on Twitch or seeing her perform. Her inviting personality, as well as the hilarious paradox of a petite 20-something blonde woman with often, colorful (read as “sailor-like), language, makes you naturally want to be around her, whether that be “IRL” or online.

Thankfully, Sarah was able to take time out of her crazy schedule to field a few of my questions about what the life of a performer entails. And, as I like to do in these interviews, I ask Sarah to give some advice to women out there who may have an interest in her field of work. Enjoy!

Interview

When did you first realize you wanted to get into acting?
I was always a big ham as a kid, I loved attention and I loved making films with my mom’s camcorder (sometimes recording over her stuff, sorry mom). I had danced for so long that I didn’t think I’d ever really transition, but when I was 11 I went to an audition for Dragon Tales Live and ended up being kept until the end. That’s when I booked Bear in the Big Blue House Live and toured the country when I was 13.

What was the best part about being a Disney Princess?
The kids. Parents were always hit or miss, most of the time they wanted their photo and that was it. When kids would come up to me and ask me questions about the stories and the characters and know so much about the films it always made my heart sing. Watching their faces light up as I answered questions and went back and forth with them is something I’ll never forget. I have so many vivid memories.

Which Disney princess do you most relate with? Which was the most fun to portray?
I absolutely relate to Ariel the most. She always wants more. She’s outgoing and a go-getter and doesn’t let anything stop her. Other than her, Megara from Hercules. She is a sassy lady and doesn’t need a man to get by. Combine Ariel and Meg and you have me. I also personally loved being Wendy because she’s so kind, and playing with Peter Pan was a ton of fun. But Ariel was definitely the dream. 

What inspired you to start gaming on Twitch?
Honestly I was super hesitant about it. I don’t love attention for being a woman because it’s often negative in a sense. I like to be recognized for my skill and talent rather than looks, and the way I learned about Twitch made it seem like something I wouldn’t be into. BUT – my friend Chris (@ChrisSpeaketh on Twitch) told me about it and really explained how incredible the community was and what a positive experience it was. He made me an account on the spot and I never looked back!

What is the most gratifying part of the Twitch experience?
It’s all the people. I’ve met some of the most absolutely wonderful people on Twitch. I’ve made some of my best friends. I’ve always been really candid with the community and they never judge me. They’re always kind and friendly and always lend me an ear if I need one. I’m constantly overwhelmed by the kindness of my viewers. Many of them have become my best friends.

Which, between Twitch and acting, was harder to break into?
This is a toss up! Twitch and acting are surprisingly similar, it’s really hard to maintain both. With theatre, you’re always worried about the next contract, and with Twitch, you’re always worried the game you constantly play is going to die out and you’re going to have to rebuild (which is where I am now). I’ve had a very successful few years working consistently in musical theatre (I’m currently in Toronto doing Grease as the understudy for Pretty Little Liars star Janel Parrish as Sandy), and Twitch has definitely had its ups and downs. But I know the people who really want to be there will always be there, and that’s what matters to me.

How do you balance acting and Twitch?
It’s not easy. The great thing is as a member of the actors union we are allowed to ship 400 pounds of stuff to our next gig and have it covered so I normally ship my entire stream rig. Rehearsals are always tough because I normally rehearse 10-6 and then stream 7-10 and wake up and do it all over again. There is no streaming during technical rehearsals because they are all day and night and exhausting. Once the show is up, it’s cake. 8 shows a week and I can stream all day up until our half hour call time! The best part about streaming is making your own schedule. When my agent calls, I have to say yes always. But I can always shift my stream schedule around.

Any advice for women in the Twitch world? In the acting world?
Be bold. Be daring. NEVER be afraid to be strong and feisty. It’s truly not easy to be a female in a male dominated profession such as gaming but that’s what makes it so fun. Every naysayer motivates me even more. In acting I’d say don’t listen to people who say it can’t be a job. Very similar to Twitch, people are always like “yeah but what do  you REALLY do?” I’m always like “oh, my other job? Playing video games and hanging out with my best friends on the internet.” Like, suck it Fran, acting is a real job and it’s been paying my bills for 20 years, and now gaming is. It’s not 1950. Women can be independent and entrepreneurial. I get really spicy on this topic… but I digress. Never give up. Never stop. Always believe in yourself.

Catch the Next Performance

Sarah’s streaming schedule is subject to change due to being involved in different productions, but she tries to stream consistently Sunday – Friday by 7 pm. I’d recommend hopping into her stream and seeing the awesome community she has established. If you’re a gamer, it’s a no-brainer. However, even if you’re not, performing on Twitch gives you the opportunity to interact with those that come into your chat, and Sarah brings more than just gaming content into the equation. She and her followers have hobbies and likes outside of gaming, and go through real issues like the rest of us, so you never know what type of fun and/or meaningful conversation you’re going to get.

If you’re a fan of theatre, be sure to follow Sarah through her various social media outlets and websites (all can be found on her twitch page) and find out where she’s performing. You never know, she could be coming to your home town soon!

Sarah without a doubt fits the idea of an Influential Woman. I often talk about finding one’s passion and using it to inspire others. Sarah always wanted to be a performer, and continues to use multiple platforms to channel her passion into entertainment and inspiration. She is a strong woman that believes in herself and doesn’t let the negative attitudes of anyone else diminish her belief or her drive.

Check Sarah Out

Head over to twitch.tv/ImSarahDaniels and catch a stream. And be sure to check out our Woman Crush Wednesday post on our Instagram @influentialgentleman.

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