“Wild Nights with Emily” directed by Madeleine Olnek, is a biographical comedy that opens a window on the life of American poet Emily Dickinson from her attempts to get published to her irreverent side that was not talked about for years especially her lifelong romantic relationship with another woman.
The younger version of the writer is played by Dana Melanie that in our interview told us about her getting to know the real Emily, what she would tell her if given the chance plus some more curiosities like her guilty pleasure films from the one she can quote every line to the most badass Disney princess of all time.
Were you familiar with the work of Emily Dickinson before portraying her?
I knew of Emily from mentions in school, but I was completely unaware of her true story. Looking back, I wish there had been more emphasis on her poems… for someone who is known to be one of America’s greatest female poets it makes me wonder why there wasn’t a greater pressure on the subject. Her style was groundbreaking. Most popular woman poets of the time only wrote poems that rhymed. It was the “feminine” thing. Publishers didn’t understand the sophistication and intelligence in Emily’s writings, and that’s something we touch on in the film.
“Publishers didn’t understand the sophistication and intelligence in Emily’s writings.”
What kind of research did you do to prepare for the role?
A friend of mine gifted me a book of her poems, so that’s where I started. Reading through them, with the knowledge that she was gay, was eye-opening. It brought new meaning to her words and completely opened doors toward who she was as a person and the way her mind worked.
What would you tell her if given the chance?
I love this question. If I could, I would tell Emily that your poems will be published and get the recognition they rightfully deserve for centuries to come. It breaks my heart to think she died only having 7 or so of her poems published, compared to the roughly, 1800 she wrote.
Your favorite poet of all times?
Emily!! Maybe I’m biased. But I have such a new found appreciation for her as an artist and as a woman. She was so far ahead of her time, widely misunderstood (to this day), but never did she compromise herself. Emily was a trailblazer.
“I would tell Emily that your poems will be published and get the recognition they rightfully deserve for centuries to come.”
On “Greenhouse Academy,” what shall we expect for your character Emma Geller?
Emma really comes into her own this season! It was really fun balancing her still studious personality with a sort of, new found confidence. Emma has a touch of rebel in her which we’re really going to see through her friendships, old and new.
Expect a lot of new dynamics.
What can you unveil about your first project as writer\producer\director?
I haven’t fully stepped into the director chair yet, but writing and producing are on their way. I’ve just recently optioned a book based on a woman’s true story that I cannot wait to share with the world. It’s another story, similar to Emily’s, where people and the press believed her to be one way, when in fact that wasn’t the case at all. So to have the opportunity to flip the narrative is thrilling. I know this sounds all very vague, but I promise I’ll be able to talk about it more in depth soon!
What kind of stories do you dream to tell?
Stories that shake you deep down in your core. Ones that can open people’s eyes to a new perspective and make them think. As an actor, even as a writer, I have the opportunity to use my art to give a voice to stories not normally heard, as well as new stories that may have once been silenced, like Emily’s. I’m also very much itching to be a part of a story that highlights our future, or even current position as humanity in dealing with climate change. I’ve found the majority of stories that touch upon the subject matter are either gloom and doom or so far out they only appeal to a small group of people and sometimes even have a negative effect. I’d really like to find a balance between the two and ignite a healthy conversation that would hopefully spark a positive change. Something that will create a new normal/newfound appreciation for our beautiful planet.
“I’m also very much itching to be a part of a story that highlights our future, or even current position as humanity in dealing with climate change.”
What’s your guilty pleasure movie?
I have three. And I have no shame in telling the world. “The Princess Diaries.” “Mulan.” And “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I can watch any of those movies an unhealthy amount of times and never get sick of any of them. “The Princess Diaries” because it’s perfect and I can quote the entire movie. “Mulan” because she is the most badass Disney princess around and no one can tell me otherwise. And “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” because only Audrey Hepburn can make being a call girl, look so elegant.
What’s a classic movie you are “ashamed” to admit you’ve never seen?
“Citizen Kane.” Someone ruined the ending for me though, but I suppose the statute of limitations was up on that spoiler alert.
The most beautiful thing while filming “Wild Nights with Emily”?
Filming in Greenwich Connecticut during the fall. In the early stage of production, there was talk that the film was going to be in black and white, but I’m so happy they decided to do it in color purely for the cinematic scenery. I will also add that telling Emily’s story is in a league of its own. To have the opportunity to be a part of a project like this, and bring forth her beautiful true story is something I will forever be proud of.
The pictures of you in this interview are beautiful!! I’m so anxious to see the movie and guess I had to make a run to CA to do it!! I’m so excited for you and look forward to your next work!!
Hello there, we are looking forward to Dana’s next work as well 🙂