Check out our interview with Emmy Award-winning and 2023 BAFTA Award nominated actress, producer, director and singer-songwriter, Danielle Bisutti who is best known for her role opposite Keke Palmer on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson VP and was recently nominated for a BAFTA for her performance as The Norse Goddess “Freya” in Sony PlayStation’s top grossing videogame “God of War” which won unanimous “Game of the Year” awards and 5 BAFTA Awards including “Best Game” in 2019 and recently breaks the record for the most nominations in 2023. She is also the head of Perfect Timing Productions.
Follow Danielle @daniellebisutti
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Loyal. Creative. Tenacious. Fearless. Thoughtful. Dedicated. Complex.
How did you get started into acting?
My journey to becoming a successful working actress was paved brick by brick and one relentless foot in front of the other. I hail from a big Italian family of artists and entrepreneurs many of whom have made a career in the Entertainment Industry. The desire to act, sing, dance, write, direct, produce – create – is in my blood. This passion was my inherent truth the moment I touched down on planet earth. At an early age, I desired to be a professional actress but my father, a former child actor, wanted me to experience a normal childhood and encouraged me to stay in school. It was there that I learned the craft of acting in classes, S.A.V.E. summer theater workshops, plays, and musicals.
Two of my second cousins, Alan and Doug DiGoia and my father, Richard, all worked on TV series as a first A.D., camera operator, and set dresser/ lead man, respectively. This connection afforded me to get hands on training by doing background work. By the time I graduated California State University at Fullerton with my Bachelor of Arts degree, I had obtained my three requisite SAG vouchers and became a union member in 1999. Twenty-one years old and ready for my Oscar, I became a hostess at Crustacean Restaurant in Beverly Hills. The first couple years out of college I cut my teeth learning how to “act for the camera” by taking casting director workshops, on-camera-cold-reading classes, and starring in several short films. Notably one entitled Kismet, in which I starred opposite Nestor Carbonell. At 23-years-old, I finally landed a manager who procured me auditions for television and I booked my first TV co-star role on Dharma and Greg. When I gathered with family and friends around the TV to watch my big moment, my one line got cut. It was right then and there that I knew, I had officially made it.
How has this changed your life?
The desire to act, sing, dance, write, direct, perform, produce – create – has always been my truth. My purpose. My skillset. It hasn’t changed my life, it’s always been my life. The ability to make a good living doing my passion, that my dreams became a reality, is one of my life’s greatest gift. I am in a constant state of gratitude for this blessing.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The list is very long. I will hone in on two core epiphanies.
The best part of being an actress is uncovering aspects of myself through discovering the wholeness of the characters I bring to life. The dark and the light. Their strengths and weaknesses. When I embody that character’s journey, it yields compassion and empathy for the human condition and this is what connects us all.
The worst part about being an actress is losing yourself. I’m not talking about the blissful magic of losing yourself in a role, I’m talking about losing perspective on what’s most important: my well being. The tragedy was in the moments where I placed my value into the duplicitous hands of an uncertain, unregulated, nonlinear, unscrupulous, temporal, and ruleless industry. It’s easy to give your power away in this auditioning environment where your livelihood and career status hang in the balance of booking the job. The best part of this “worst part” is when I realized, and finally believed, that I am more valuable than any role, any project or anyone else’s approval. I approve. That’s all I need.
How do you prepare for a role?
The magic of embodying a role is best kept a secret. But I will say I feel my way into all the characters I play by discovering their wound. Then it’s simply telling the truth of that character emotionally within the context of the narrative.
Aligning a connection from my own life story helps me to empathize deeply with my character and fight for what she needs.
Tell us about your role opposite Keke Palmer on Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson VP?”
I loved my time on TJVP but it was also a nerve-wracking experience as it was my first series regular role, and a comedy at that, so the pressure to turn a joke and stay spontaneous was always looming. I’m so grateful because it was on the famous stage 25 at Paramount Studios, former home to Fraiser, Cheers, Bosom Buddies, and The Lucy Show, that I got to cut my teeth in comedy. I had to pinch myself every time I drove onto that iconic lot.
Starring opposite Keke Palmer was a hoot! At 14-years-old she had more energy and “old-soul” wisdom than just about anybody on that set! She’s a multifaceted artist who’s impact in the entertainment industry has touched many lives. I’m so proud of the force of nature Keke has become and not the least bit surprised. Our talented cast of actors had such great chemistry and comedic timing, it was truly a joy to play in that sandbox with them. Our very talented writers room led by our show creator, Andy Gordon, all hailed from successful network and cable comedies. It was an honor to deliver their jokes and speak their words as the complicated and misunderstood, Amanda Cantwell, who always served as the foil to True. I loved riding the wave of Amanda’s contrasting complexities. On the inside she was a goofy, hapless Lucy but on the outside she fancied herself an elegant, graceful Audrey. She was a walking conundrum is designer heels and I loved every second playing and evolving with her.
How did you got the role and how challenging was the casting?
My manager, Todd Justice, got me the audition and this being my first series regular role, it was life changing. After reading the material, I remember feeling I knew exactly who this “Amanda Cantwell” was. I knew precisely what I was going to wear and I connected with her inner awkwardness. I could see through the steely sophisticated veneer she used to protect her inner fragile little girl. I remember during my initial audition for the show creator’s righthand man, Dan Kopelman, I insulted his choice of outfit. I pointed out the unfortunate mistake of his green vans paired with long khaki shorts. It certainly wasn’t fit for a professional environment and all too déclassé for Amanda to remain silent. And the moment I stepped into that room, I was Amanda. Later Dan told me that was the moment he knew I was perfect for the part. The next step was testing for Nickelodeon network and Andy Gordon by doing a chemistry read with Keke. She and I hit it off right away and were able to lean into the uncomfortable tension between the 14-year-old girl wonder, True, stationed on equal footing with the tenured, accomplished, and educated Amanda Cantwell. The subtext of my indignant distain was so thick you could cut it with a chainsaw as I interacted with the affable, precocious, and naturally gifted, True. It was all so easy for her which continued to be the bumble bee in my bonnet. We were the perfect mismatch and yet deep down I felt genuinely intrigued as to how this young, inexperienced girl was able to pull off creating the most innovative designs. I believe it was this juxtaposition of curiosity and resentment that sealed the deal on booking the role.
What other projects you have been part of?
My journey has been long and with that bears the blessing of having been on any show, on any network, at any given moment in time. But here is a curated list: Most recently I’ve played the Norse Goddess “Freya” in Sony PlayStation’s top grossing, critically acclaimed “Game of the Year” and BAFTA “Best Game” award-winning, AAA video-game, God of War and God of War Ragnarök. I also voiced Frozen’s “Elsa” in Disney’s award-winning video game Dreamlight Valley. I performance captured the role of “Claudia Grimstone” in Madden NFL 21: Face of the Franchise: Rise to Fame 2020, and voiced “Wonder Woman” in The Lego Movie 2 Videogame. I portrayed the ominous “Ms. Grey” in Lifetime’s Nanny Killer, “Dana Gallagher” in Shonda Rhimes’ For the People and series regular role as Witch “Hexela” in BUYtv’s Dwight in Shining Armor distributed by Paramount.
Film credits include top grossing Sony Pictures’ cult favorite Insidious: Chapter 2 in which I played “Michelle Crane: The Mother of Death”, “Barb” in Universal Studio’s Curse of Chucky, “Norma Steele” in The Blue Rose Executive Produced by Jay Van Hoy, Michael Rosenbaum’s indie comedy Back in the Day, Lionsgate’s Venice Underground with Eric Mabius, The Neighbor with Matthew Modine, How To Make Her Cheat by Anna Barbara Films and the lead in Lionsgate’s faith-based film, No Greater Love. Television shows I’ve recurred on are Matador for Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, Parks & Recreation, Last Man Standing, CSI Miami, Without A Trace, Raising the Bar and The O.C. Notable guest starring roles were on Anger Management, Grey’s Anatomy, Mom, NCIS, NCIS LA, Criminal Minds, Dr. Ken, Castle, Hot in Cleveland, Newsreaders, 90210, Rizzoli & Isles, Beauty and the Beast, Body of Proof, Leverage, Bones, Cold Case, Two and a Half Men and Boston Legal.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
Complicated Women. Because they are multilayered and never boring. I enjoy discovering their frailties, the parts that make them unapologetically human, and then revealing those common threads through moments of vulnerability. This applies to any character in any genre.
If you weren’t acting, what would you be up to right now?
Resting. Vacationing. Painting. Cooking. Volunteering. Hiking.
Which fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life?
Can you name 3 actors/actresses you would love to work with?
Impossible because there are so many. But if I had to name a few…
Joaquin Phoenix / Cate Blanchett
Steve Carrell / Kristen Wiig
Denzel Washington / Danai Gurira
Pedro Pascal / Sandra Oh
Shia LaBeouf / Jodi Comer
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Touching and impacting lives through the characters I play, songs I write, and projects I create.
What’s your advice for the newer actors?
- You are more valuable than any role or project. Take care of yourself.
- If you love it enough, if it’s who you are, then you will stay the course.
- Learn the craft of acting.
- Study humanity with a compassionate, open mind.
- Surround yourself with people who truly support you.
- Remember it’s a business. It’s not a personal rejection. There are so many politics involved behind the scenes that have nothing to do with you.
- Don’t wait for anyone to choose you. Create your own content.
Now tell us about the recent BAFTA nomination for your performance as The Norse Goddess “Freya” in Sony PlayStation’s top grossing videogame “God of War” That’s amazing! Big congrats!
Thank you so much. Being a two-time BAFTA nominated actress for portraying Freya in the God of of War franchise is unequivocally one of the greatest honors of my life.
I can honestly say that all roads have led me to Freya and have given me the experience needed to embody her story. In 2014, when my manager got me an audition for an “interactive video game,” I didn’t quite understand the scale and breadth of what was in store for me. A video game lover myself, my gaming prowess peaked in high school playing Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers, Tetris, and the occasional Ms. Pac-Man obsession at the arcade but that’s where my journey ended. I was completely unaware of the level of artistic sophistication and evolution these games had undergone. God of War is a masterpiece. Santa Monica Studios yields some of the most gifted and innovative video game devs in the world. When I saw the cut scenes from the 2018 game, I was brought to tears several times at the sheer beauty of it all: the lighting, the animation, the landscapes, the gameplay, the sound, Bear McCreary’s emotional, masterful score and the most sophisticated writing in the pantheon of video games led by Cory Barlog, Matt Sophos and Richard Gaubert, creating such complex, in-depth characters whose journeys have galvanized a loyal fanbase heralding God of War as “The Game of a Generation.”
What an absolute gift to be a part of this top-tier, multi-award-winning, Game of the Year, BAFTA Best Game, record breaking, video game. When I found out I was nominated for my work as Freya in God of War 2018, I was in a complete state of awe. I couldn’t have imagined one of my life dreams of winning a BAFTA would be realized for a role I played in a video game. This year the BAFTA’s graciously added a category for “Best Supporting Role” in a game, allowing more opportunities for the impeccable level of talented actors bringing these beloved characters to life recognition for their work. When I saw that I was listed among the incredible nominees for “Best Performer in a Supporting Role” for my work as Freya in the 2022 sequel, God of War Ragnarök, I cried tears of joy and gratitude. To be recognized again for the life force I poured into Freya was such a gift. The pervasive feeling, I have when I think of God of War, Freya and the BAFTA’s is sheer gratitude.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?
The rejections are not personal. They are not failures.
In this business I have found that it’s imperative to shape-shift your relationship with failure. The uncertainty of this industry requires one to be audacious with almost every step.
To have success in anything, especially in an industry where there is no linear roadmap to follow, no degree that guarantees you employment, and where you are only as good as your last project, you must come to terms with the fact that not everything is going to unfold the way you had planned. In fact, sometimes it’s in the mistakes where life hands you that unexpected left turn leading you to the path you were meant to be on.
There are so many aspects of this career path that are out of your control. Reasons that you won’t get the part that have nothing to do with your unique talent. But if you choose to do this industry, then choose it wisely. Choose it because you love it and it is who you are. It requires devotion, work ethic, curiosity, education, resiliency, tenacity, talent, support, relationships, innovation and passion. Does it feel joyful? Is it fun? Is it your heart’s song? If yes, then do it. Do it no matter what. And remember to take care of yourself in the process. Your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical state of being are the cornerstone and of the utmost importance. Maintain your sense of self, first. Your autonomy. Your value. Your agency. Your worth. Your sovereignty. Remember there is only one you. You were created for a specific purpose. Not by accident. The world needs you. When I finally arrived at this epiphany in my life, it gave me the freedom I had been searching for. I gave it to myself and, therefore, no one can take that away.
How would your best friend describe you?
Loyal. Tireless. Creative. Colorful. Thoughtful. Ambitious. Tenacious.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
“Let the Journey Become the Destination.” A big part of my learning has been grounded into the reality of what is. Being present and grateful for how God is blessing me right now opposed to always looking into the future for the next achievement, experience, and milestone to define my happiness, my value, my worth.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
It would be another book entitled, “Your Wings Were Always There.” Simply discovering that I was enough. That this has all been a process of learning, sharpening, honing, falling, rising, defining who I am. It’s all part of this thing called being human that none of us can escape from. When I was able to truly embrace it, surrender, and allow it, that is when my true sense of self solidified. True autonomy. True sovereignty. It’s a powerful yet quiet thing. Once I embodied this inherent truth, I was able to fly.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
When I read Failing Forward: turning mistakes into steppingstones for success, by John C. Maxwell, it changed my life forever. Entrepreneurs take risks and sometimes those risks don’t turn out how they planned. However, sometimes those “mistakes” lead to better opportunities – a better version of what you set out to create, or something completely different altogether. If you read the autobiography of any massively successful individual, you’ll learn that most of their failures led to their windfall of success. Trusting the process is vital. It can feel brutal when the process doesn’t go the way we think it should, but most likely it’s happening exactly as it’s meant to be. For some people, success happens overnight. I’ve never met those people, but like unicorns, I am certain they exist. For most people, their success can be attributed to the learning and refinement that came on the tail end of their “so-called” failures. What if we fell in love with the process? What if we reframe that term and call these moments “learning lessons?” Words have power. So do the thoughts we associate with them. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, How to Win Friends and Influence People, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 80/20 Principle, and The 1% Rule are also seminal books for entrepreneurs.
What’s next for Danielle Bisutti in 2023?
2023 is already shaping up to be a very busy season with the upcoming film festival premiere for The Blue Rose in October. For my company, Perfect Timing Productions, we have several projects we’ve been nurturing that are ready to go into production. Two feature films: a dystopian sci-fi horror thriller entitled; Osiris co-written with my partner Nickolas Dimondi. A psychological thriller horror fantasy drama entitled, Wake Me; a darkly comedic web-series entitled, Damsels co-created with my partner Amber Henley who also co-stars with me. We aim to release it on Perfect Timing Productions YouTube channel and possibly Amazon Prime sometime in the Fall. As a newly burgeoning filmmaker, I intend to continue creating projects that are meaningful to me with the intention of powerfully moving our audience whether it be by tears, laughter, introspection or innovation.
Last November, in celebration of God of War Ragnarök’s release, we premiered Song of the Valkyrie, a Norse Mythology inspired fantasy music film set to a cover of Lana Del Rey’s song, “Video Games.” This epic music video is a love letter to the God of War fans, Sony Santa Monica Studios, and my beloved role as Freya. Although the narrative is not from GOW Ragnarök the suggestions in it might be *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* so please watch accordingly.
My future career goals are to continue expanding my work as actress on all mediums but in particular, I‘d love to find a series regular role in a dynamic show on a streaming or cable platform.
As a singer-songwriter, I plan to release another creative cover song, music video to Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” with my female trio, BLOOM (Rachel Krishna Anderson and Michelle Elliott Rearick) and continue writing songs for the projects I am in as well remain open to any other musical endeavors that present themselves. I will always be learning and always be creating.
What is your favorite healthy food?
And your favorite cheat food?
What is your own definition of happiness?
Happiness is an inside job, independent of outer circumstances. If you offer it up for someone else to define, you might find yourself disappointed.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Jesus. King Arthur. Hedy Lamarr. Madeline Khan. Phoebe Waller-Bridge. They fascinate me.
Best advice ever given?
Trust your gut. It is always leading you to truth.
Do you support any charity?
PATH, Chrysalis, Hollywood Food Co., GO Campaign, Mary’s Meals.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Continuing to work with some of the greatest storytellers in the industry. Creating evocative, inspirational, critically acclaimed, award-winning, television series, films, songs, music, and theater with my production company Perfect Timing Productions.
What is your favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke?
Anything from Whitney Houston or Sia. I also love “What’s Up?” from 4 Non-Blondes, “Nothing Compares to You covered by Sinead O’Conner, “I’ll Always Remember Us This Way” by Lady Gaga and “Alone” by Heart.
What do you think of Social Media?
Two opposing things:
I wish it didn’t exist.
I love how it connects me to friends and family who live far away and how it connects me with fans who appreciate my work. We’ve become an “online” family.
Where we can follow you?
@daniellebisutti on all platforms.
Book: The Once and Future King. The Mists of Avalon. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Quote: “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.” – Amelia Earhart
Movie: The Princess Bride. Young Frankenstein. Star Wars Episodes IV-VI.
Tv Series: Game of Thrones. Succession. Outlander. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The Mandalorian. Yellowstone. The Office. Killing Eve. Fleabag. Dead To Me.
Favorite Food: Pasta. Always and forever, pasta.
Travel Destination: Europe, UK.
Sports Team: L.A. Lakers
Photos by Ryan Caliendo