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This month's theme: Movies

Daina Griffith: Being an Actor in Pittsburgh


Fran Joyce



























Growing up in Cincinnati, Daina Griffith was a shy only child who played tennis and thought she would teach art. She never imagined becoming an actor.

During her senior year in high school, she auditioned and was cast in the fall play. Griffith enjoyed her first acting experience. At Miami University of Ohio, her interest in theater increased, and she began taking voice lessons at the nearby Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. After two years at Miami, She transferred to Point Park Conservatory of Performing Arts in Pittsburgh.

According to Griffith, “My parents were very supportive of my decision to pursue an acting career. I attended my first acting class at Point Park and I was smitten. Initially, I worried because many of my classmates started acting at a young age and were more experienced. My late start turned out to be an advantage because I was more focused and sure of what I wanted.”

Before graduation, Griffith signed with the Docherty Talent & Modeling Agency in Pittsburgh and joined AEA, SAG-AFTRA. “I started going to auditions for plays in Pittsburgh and getting roles. I also auditioned for commercials, voice overs, television roles and films. I continued to hone my craft and gained valuable experience which allowed me to make a smooth transition to New York in 2005 to pursue new opportunities.

“New York was exciting, but the competition for every role was fierce. Pittsburgh was becoming a popular location for filming thanks to its affordability, the availability of trained actors for supporting roles or extras, and the tax credits being offered to non-native movie productions. Because of its location, Pittsburgh actors can easily audition for theatrical productions in Ohio and West Virginia. I realized I could be closer to my family and make a good living as an actor in Pittsburgh, so I moved back in 2008.”

Griffith has extensive theatre experience. She has had several roles in movies filmed here in Pittsburgh. She played Foley’s wife in The Dark Knight Rises, Angela in Hollidaysburg, Tilly in Civilians, and she appeared in the Pittsburgh Dad short film, Street Light Stories.

She has appeared in national commercials and the television programs, Outsiders (she had a recurring role as Ricki in season one) and Guiding Light. She appeared in the web series, I’ll Call You and the television pilot Munhall starring Cheers alum George Wendt. Griffith recently finished filming a television pilot in New Jersey called Intrusion.

On Mondays, when the theatre is dark, Griffith teaches at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy. She teaches Audition Techniques, Acting for TV and Film, and Acting II (character development and scene study). She’s taught there since 2009. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community she loves.

Nancy Mosser of Nancy Mosser Casting approached her about doing some workshops in 2016. Mosser admired Griffith’s professionalism - especially her ability to stay calm and focused during auditions. “I have all ages and experience levels in my workshops,” Griffith says. “The camera puts people on edge. It restricts where you can go and how much you can move. You have to develop an awareness of yourself. It can be as simple as what to do with your hands. You don’t want to appear stiff, but nervous habits can be greatly exaggerated on film. Movements as benign as closing your eyes, blinking, swaying, or cocking your head to the side can be distracting for the audience and take away from your performance.

“I’m basically a big cheerleader. I want to build up my students and give them confidence, so I always start out with the positives' of their performances and show them how to be better. It’s easy to criticize and tear someone apart, but I know how that feels. I teach my students the way I wanted to be taught. I have no time for mean people.”

Griffith recently performed in Death of a Salesman at the O’Reilly Theater in Pittsburgh. She also participated in a reading for the public of The White Chip for the City Theatre Momentum Festival – the actors perform with the writer in the room, so he/she can gauge the audience’s reaction to their work. She will be appearing with her husband, Daniel Krell, this summer at the St. Vincent Summer Theater in Latrobe in See How They Run.

“Daniel and I don’t often get the opportunity to work together,” she says. “We met in 2002 while I was in college. I had a part in a play he was in, and I was in awe of his talent. We worked together sporadically for several years before we started dating in 2009. We were both with other people during that time and didn't begin seeing each other until suddenly we were both single, and I got up the nerve to talk to him.

"The first time we played opposite each other was in When the Rain Stops Falling. We played a dysfunctional husband and wife. We scream at each other and his character commits suicide, so it was a very emotional experience. Of the dozen or so plays we’ve done together, we have played opposite each other four times. See How They Run is the first farce we will appear in together, so I’m ready to have some fun.”

For more information about Daina Griffith, visit her website, Find out where she will be performing next, view clips of her performances and find out about her workshops.





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