Profile: Bruin & Despicable Me Star Dana Gaier

Dana Gaier is a 2nd year undeclared Social Sciences major from Burbank, California. She was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey and then moved to California for her career. Dana is best known for her role as Edith in Universal Pictures award-winning and critically-acclaimed Despicable Me film franchise. She is also a proud Bruin and in Gamma Phi Beta, Hooligan Theater Company, and The Rival. Check out our interview with Dana below and make sure to watch Despicable Me 3, which hits theaters June 30th.

Her Campus: What activities are you involved in on campus?

Dana Gaier: I’m in a sorority—Gamma Phi Beta, on the staff of HOOLIGAN, which is a student-run theatre program and I am now an editor and a writer for The Rival, which is a new online digital news publication for the students of UCLA.

HC: What is your favorite part about UCLA?

DG: My favorite part is probably the school spirit. You can’t walk ten feet at this school without seeing someone in UCLA apparel and it’s just really awesome to go to such a big school that’s known for so many things—not just academics.

HC: Why did you decide to attend UCLA?

DG: I’ve wanted to go to UCLA as long as I can remember. Growing up in New Jersey meant really cold winters and really humid and hot summers, but the weather in Los Angeles is perfect. The campus is gorgeous, the academics are great, there’s a crazy amount of school spirit and the social life is good here too. You really couldn’t ask for more in a school. I think it was more a matter of being accepted as a student—I was always going to go here if I had the opportunity to do so. 

HC: What's your favorite Bruin memory?

DG: Probably performing in the musical In the Heights with HOOLIGAN. I met so many amazing people and I got to be a lead in one of my favorite shows.

HC: What is your favorite dinning hall?

DG: Bruin Plate hands down! It’s actually pretty ridiculous how many good and healthy options we have at this school for food. I feel like my friends at other schools are constantly complaining about their dining halls and I just can’t relate.

HC: How has your breakout role in the Despicable Me series affected your life?

DG: I think it was a huge shock when I got the role in 6th grade. I was only 11 at the time and nobody really knew how big the franchise would be. After the first film came out I went to summer camp for 7 weeks so I was pretty disconnected from the world and the media, but when I came back, minions were everywhere. It was insane how popular the film had gotten while I was away. It’s been an amazing experience for me, but it actually hasn’t affected me too much. Everyone in my town knew so I guess that was different, but because it’s voiceover work people don’t recognize me like they would someone who is on the big screen. I wouldn’t have moved to California if it weren’t for the franchise so in that way it’s affected my life a lot.

HC: What can you tell us about Despicable Me 3?

DG: I can’t reveal much about the third movie, but I can say that we meet Gru’s twin brother, Dru, which makes for a lot of humor. Also there’s a new villain in town who seems to be stuck in the 80s, so that’s going to be a lot of fun as well. If you liked the first two you will absolutely love the third movie in the series.

HC: What is your film The Ice Cream Truck about? What was it like working with Lisa Ann Walter and Deanna Russo?

DG: The lead character, Mary, moves back to the suburbs and while she is waiting for her family to join her, notices something weird about the Ice Cream man who drives around her neighborhood. It’s really suspenseful, but also has a bunch of comedic moments that catch you off guard. I watched it with the cast a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. My character, Brie, is a teenager who lives in the neighborhood. It’s a small, but very important role. My role actually never overlaps with Lisa Ann Walter’s so I didn’t get to be on set with her, but I did get to be on set with Deanna Russo and she’s really funny and friendly…just like everyone in the cast.

HC: How are voice over roles different than normal films/tv shows?

DG: When you do voiceover you don’t have anyone to react to so you kind of have to pull the emotion out of thin air. Sometimes you get a little background on the scene you’re doing, but mostly you’re switching from scene to scene. In the span of a few minutes I could be really happy and have to yell and laugh, and in the next moment, I have to be sad and disappointed. My experience in The Ice Cream Truck was different because I had people to react to on set, so I got to feed off of their energy and their emotions, which was really cool.

HC: Do you have any advice for fellow Bruins interested in a career in the entertainment industry?

DG: Managing school and acting is definitely hard, but also extremely doable. It’s about finding a good balance and making sure you’re not overwhelming yourself. I also just think it’s important to get out there and try different acting classes—don’t limit yourself because you can never stop learning.

Keep up with Dana by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

Photos Courtesty of Dana Gaier