We had the good fortune of connecting with Dani Savka and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dani, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Ah… “give up” or to “keep going.” The question that many artists come to at some point – whether you’re a dancer, an actor, a filmmaker, and hell – even business people. Even single parents (or non-single parents!). Or teachers in education. I’m answering this question, because I admittedly relate to it more than you think. We all do.

Here’s my two-cents: I suggest we to change our perception of giving up and to keep going.. I think artists of all kinds – actors, dancers, musicians – see ‘giving up’ and ‘keep going’ as black and white. One is ‘good.’ One is ‘bad.’ One means success, the other implies failing. I want to make it clear to you right now: NONE OF THESE ARE TRUE. This is probably where we create a mental struggle of sorts. Ultimately, the decision to give up or to keep going comes down to you. It has nothing to do with what your agent told you. It does not depend on the ex who always told you that you aren’t sh*t. It is an internally-made decision. And I think it’s also a decision that can shift throughout life, which is okay. As long as we are alive, life will keep changing, and we do too.

GIVING UP: We can ‘give up’ for a little while. Sometimes that’s called backing off. Taking a break. Stepping out for a breather. Letting go, because both left-brainers and right-brainers can over-exhaust themselves mentally. It’s also okay to give up because you want a shift in life, or you’re leaving an abusive industry environment. It’s ok to give up something we once loved (warning.. it might circle back around later in life to come find you again). From personal experience: Sometimes I give myself long artistic breaks if I feel burn-out coming on; that could mean taking a break from auditioning for acting gigs/shows and just taking ballet classes instead. Or vice-versa. Or sometimes, it means a night in bed playing Mario Kart on the Switch and having a glass of rose (because it’s important to win 1st place at 150cc on the Grand Prix races;)).

KEEP GOING: What is to “keep going?” That can be taking a step forward. Or three. To get something in motion, even if the end goal is just to enjoy your day. Maybe it’s to make a to-do list and to tackle most of it. Or maybe you’re shifting career paths and you need to just do something, like apply to a few different jobs, or look up online education courses to get yourself familiar with a new subject.

If you’re in a slump, to “keep going” can be taking small steps to pick yourself up. Pull yourself out of bed and make it. Brew some coffee. Start playing music. Take a hot shower. Literally do anything small and simple – and I promise, once you get going, it WILL shift your mind a little bit. To keep going can mean to stop and think about what you loved as a childhood, what brought you motivation growing up. Then maybe it’ll inspire you to go read a new playwright, or you’ll pull up Final Draft and just start writing *anything.* I believe that to keep going means to take simple steps, and then some occasional risks and leaps, which arrive when the opportunities are ready to appear.

Just remember: NO ONE on this earth has the power to tell you to give up – on yourself, on your career, on your business, your family… I understand what it feels like to have so-called peers put you down, belittle you, or misunderstand your path. If you ever experience this, just know that I (psychically!) send my heart out to you, because I get it. If others project their ‘knowledge’ of you onto you, let ’em… then smile and walk the f*ck away and keep doing your thing. This life is yours for the taking.

P.S. are you still alive today? Then I have good news for you: you never gave up! You are here. Right now. You read this far because something piqued your interest. In that case, allow me to be your personal online cheerleader to remind you that the most beautiful thing about all of this is that life will “Yes-And” our decision (ever taken an improv class?). So whatever we decide, life will support it. If we drop to our knees and ask for help from an unseen force, sometimes that can kick us back onto a path, too. But if we’re still physically here on Earth, we are here for some important reason – whatever that may be. So we may as well keep going.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
So aside from being artsy and dance-y, I’m an executive assistant professionally. I manage a philanthropist’s personal life and business. How I got there was kind of weird; when I moved to L.A. 7 years ago, my goal was to jump into acting head on (LOL). I kept applying for any job I could, and couldn’t get a single interview anywhere – but eventually joined a temp office agency. Honestly, “office work” was one of the last things I ever wanted to do with myself, but I had bills to pay. The cool thing about the temp agency was that they sent me out to different places to work; sports offices, start-up companies, big music production studios – wherever! I eventually landed jobs working at an emergency animal hospital (which was too stressful and underpaid), a luxury real estate office for a notable family (that was wild, and where I learned how to be an assistant), and now, over 4 years later, I work for the philanthropist I’ve been with since 2017.

I will say going through all those jobs wasn’t easy for me; I used to be super disorganized, confused easily by numbers, and wanted more creative freedom. As I continued to grow and improve with each job I had, I start applying what I learned; and artistic opportunities came through that started to work alongside with my work schedule.

I still deal with challenges at work, of course – but I have taught myself to see all challenges as an opportunity to grow; what else can I learn financially? How can I make someone’s schedule even more organized? What exactly is the Attorney General of California, and how do I figure out these forms we have to fill out every year? (That last one is a joke…kind of).

The lessons I’ve learned along the way: work hard to be on top of your stuff. Be reliable for people when it comes to work. ALWAYS leave home early to arrive at work on time – no one likes a person who flakes or is consistently late. Carry a notebook with you, write down anything you need to remember (that one is a life-saver when you manage someone’s life and business all at once). Ask questions, if you find someone trustworthy. I’ve worked places where managers hated if I asked questions, but I alongside someone now who encourages it. The biggest lesson is – if you want to be good or skilled with any job or task: try to learn everything about everything. It pays off.

What do I want the world to know about my story? That things don’t have to be so cookie-cutter. A lot of people, I think, get caught up in “climbing up the ladder” and having this “zero-to-overnight-success” goal. Career paths aren’t always linear. It’s like, every time I made super detailed plans about *how* I wanted things to happen and when, it never went that way. But it has taken me to some interesting routes for sure.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my friends and instructors at the Adult Ballet Program of Westside Ballet in Santa Monica! Because of them, my childhood love of classical ballet has been renewed, I’ve made so many friends who are classical art nerds like myself, and I have somewhere to get in my weekly cardio (because, tbh, I hate working out).

Image Credits
Todd Lechtick Steve Escarcega

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