Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.
**Join us for our next DELVE: Comedy + Art event on Feburary 3rd at Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Get tickets here!**
Today we're excited to be speaking with Dawn Luebbe, an actor and comedian who recently moved to LA after 15 years in NYC. She is a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and has performed with sketch group Onassis at comedy festivals around the country including: San Francisco Sketchfest, Austin Out of Bounds, and New York Comedy Festival. She has appeared in comedy shorts for IFC, CollegeHumor, NickMom, and UCBComedy. Her first book, My 1992 Diary, will be published by Abrams in March of 2015. Dawn holds a BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
We can't recommend My 1992 Diary enough. It is the perfect medicine for a bad day, or any day, really. Thanks for sharing with us, Dawn!
Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?
My foray into acting began as a preteen giantess in Nebraska. Over six feet tall and the lankiest girl in town, I was quickly cast as a variety of bird roles in our local children's theatre. From the goose in Charlotte's Web to Owl in House at Pooh Corner to the title role in Henny Penny, I really spread my wings (sorry, I couldn't resist). By the time I left Lincoln and ended up at NYU, I had only played a handful of humans, so I decided it was time to delve into serious method acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute. After towering over my scene partners in Ibsen and Shakespeare scenes and being greeted with laughter at my portrayal of Antigone, I realized perhaps I should turn to comedy.
Around this time I was cast as a gawky bridesmaid in the Off-Broadway show Tony n' Tina's Wedding and started taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. For the first time, I felt totally in my element. I fell in love with improv and the ability to create characters and stories on the spot and change your behavior based on your scene partners and the audience. In both of these places I really started playing with physical comedy as well - which is still one of my favorite forms of comedy.
In 2011, I became a member of the UCB house sketch team, Onassis, with whom I still write and perform today both at UCB and elsewhere. Being a part of this sketch team has been incredibly fulfilling and allowed me to focus on what I personally am amused by and make it come to life. I love collaborating with other comedians and am lucky to have found a group of people with a similar, experimental, unique voice.
In the last year I have become more interested in comedy writing - both in sketch form and essay and storytelling forms. I started a blog in 2014, My 1992 Diary, where I posted my preteen diaries which quickly blew-up and ended up getting a book deal with Abrams coming March 24th. So the last half of 2014 was pretty much dedicated to working on the book, a previously unknown form to me which I ended up finding very fulfilling.
Who knows what the next few years will have in store? For success in comedy and acting and writing, luck and preparation seem to be the main ingredients, so all I can do is to keep working and trying new things that amuse me and hopefully something will stick.
Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?
Every week is different depending on what projects I am working on. This week I am working on some promo videos for my book with an animator. I'm working on some pitches for Nickelodeon with my writing partner, Susannah Bohlke, and I'm preparing for a sketch show on Friday with my sketch group, Onassis at UCB (LA-Franklin). Additionally, I'm shooting a sketch for College Humor this weekend. I also discovered Trader Joe's Mediterranean hummus this week, which was maybe my biggest accomplishment.
What is your favorite project that you've worked on?
I just worked on a web series for IFC's Comedy Crib with UCB Comedy that is coming out soon. It's called "Rage" and in each episode I basically go into an angry rage over those small things in life (in NYC, in particular) that drive you crazy but you can never do anything about. It was written by Melinda Taub and directed by Julie Gomez, both of whom I think are so talented and awesome. It was so fun and exhausting to make and I am really proud of the product.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?
I guess it's that you can never predict how or if something will hit. I've worked on sketches that I felt so solid about and they went over horribly and other sketches that I thought were pretty mediocre have gotten huge laughs.
Also, as I've gotten older, I try not to say yes to every single opportunity that comes along. I first ask myself if this is something that I think is funny. Is this something that I care about and that shows me at my best? And if the answer is no, I move on to something more inspiring.
What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?
Try and do things that are thoroughly "you." How can you tell this story or portray this character with your influence instead of someone else's?
And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?
Dairy Queen. I love it so much.
**Explore and meet other chartists and creatives on February 3rd! Join us for our next DELVE: Comedy + Art event at Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Get tickets here!**