Nichelle Nichols & Dana Davis Talk "Heroes" And A Little "Star Trek" Too
Reported by Jay Cochran - 2007.10.26
This week NBC Universal held a press conference with "HEROES" cast members Dana Davis who plays Monica Dawson and Nichelle Nichols who plays Nana Dawson. Here is a transcript of the interview.
Coordinator: Hello and welcome to the Heroes conference call. With us today are Nichelle Nichols and Dana Davis. Also on the call are David Gardner, Meredith Fitzpatrick, Kristy Chan and Carol Janson of NBC.
David Gardner: Good morning. This is David Gardner with NBC Publicity. Thank you for joining us for another one of our Heroes conference calls. This morning weíre - we have the great pleasure of having Nichelle Nichols, of course of the original Star Trek series with us to - is playing Nana Dawson, the grandmother to both Monica Dawson -- played by Dana Davis, who previously starred in The Nine -- and Damon.
And also they were recently joined by their cousin, Micah played by Noah Gray-Cabey. They were introduced just recently on October 15 and their storyline, as everyone knows, takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans.
So with that, letís just get to the questions. Letís take our first question right now.
Coordinator: Our first question is from (Joe Filiberto), Soap Opera Weekly.
(Joe Filiberto): Hi there. Thanks for doing the call. Nichelle, itís real exciting to get to talk to you - big fan of Star Trek.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you very much. The excitementís mine.
(Joe Filiberto): Iíd like to ask you about family. Weíve seen a lot of family in the series so far and then you come on as the grandmother character. So could you just talk about the Importance of family?
Nichelle Nichols: Well it - thatís a very good question because family is very important in this - in Heroes and especially a New Orleans family. Well Iím feeling that itís very similar to my own family. I come from a large family and weíre always at each otherís beck, you know, there for one another.
And itís a very loving family. And a very diverse family. And I find the same thing here. And I have these two young grandchildren who bring out - who owe - Iím a strong woman whoís gone through an awful lot and has lost her daughter. And now is raising and providing a home for these two beautiful grandchildren.
And thatís the focus of my life now because weíve gone through Katrina. Weíve survived and to establish a really - a strong and safe environment for them - for these beautiful children whom Iím very proud of.
I think Dana could probably add as much more to it from her perspective as I. I hope that Iíve hit on it the way they see it, too. But maybe she could add some more. What do you think, Dana?
Dana Davis: Well yeah, definitely. Just what Nichelle said - I think that Heroes really is about family. I mean, sure itís this surreal story and itís about, you know, people with powers. But, you know, the story behind that story is a story of family.
We saw it all through Season One. And then in Season Two with Monica joining the cast, itís like this girl who dropped out of college after her mother died to take care of her family - to work this job. And, you know, itís really just like the central point in Heroes - is that itís really important.
Coordinator: (Vanessa Coates), seat42f.com.
(Vanessa Coates): My first question is for Dana. Monicaís powers are actually very cool. So sheís able to have the ability to go and watch something, then be able to do it.
So my question was, how much training have you had to do or put into the show to learn all these different kinds of things that she can do?
Dana Davis: Oh my God. You know, I was kind of thrown into it, just like I showed up for work. And they were like, guess what Dana, weíre doing this. And so it was really hard on me because I came from it - like out of shape. I mean, Iím an actor, you know? And I donít even work out.
Iím just like, you know, my idea of working out is going upstairs in my apartment. And so I had to do a lot of physical things right away, like the double-dutching and doing a lot of the karate.
And I spent a lot of my weeks really, really sore at first. And so sort of have gotten into it now and I have a stunt double who works with me. And weíre starting to work out, and theyíre starting to, you know, with some karate training.
So at first I was just like blindly, just like here you go. But now itís gotten a little bit easier and the preparation is a little bit more. SoÖ
(Vanessa Coates): Great.
Nichelle Nichols: And this Nichelle. Donít believe it. Sheís in beautiful shape. But I can appreciate that sheís sore.
Dana Davis: No, looks can be deceiving. So Iím not in good shape.
(Vanessa Coates): And then, Nichelle, I was just curious how did you get involved in this show? Did they come to you? Did you just audition like normal - you normally would do?
Nichelle Nichols: Well, it was a magical moment Iíd say, in a point in time that just stood still. I was passing through. I was doing a film in Denver called The Torturer and I came to LA to go - to pass through, pick up some more clothes and go to another film.
And my agent said Ďoh this is great. Since youíre here, you caní - and I said, Ďbut Iím only going to be here two days. One day to pack and one day to leaveí. And he says ;one of those days theyíve asked for you to come out and interview for this roleí.
And I said, ;I canít go. I canít goí. He says, Ďyou have to goí. Heíd never said anything like that and he said ĎIím sending you the (sides) and itís for Heroesí. And Iíd only seen a couple of episodes of Heroes because Iíve been traveling so much.
(Vanessa Coates): Right.
Nichelle Nichols: And - but I knew that I really liked it.
(Vanessa Coates): Right.
Nichelle Nichols: And so I said Ďoh, well okayí. And I thought they were talking about like a day, you know, a guest appearance for a day. And so I came out and - to the studio and there sat all these men and women. And then I went Ďuh-oh, the last time I saw this many people out, I got Star Trekí.
And Iím laughing to myself. And of course, it was for a recurring role and they asked me if they could film me, and if I would do this scene. And I had looked at the scene kind of and I had gotten it the night before. And this was early in the morning, so I looked at the scene and I thought I felt her.
And they said that day they were delighted. But I heard that before and I said Ďthank you, thank you so muchí. And I left and they said Ďthank you so muchí. And they were laughing and enjoying me, you know. And I left and got on a plane for Phoenix to do another movie -- This Bitter Earth.
And so it was quite wonderful when I get a call saying Ďsurprise, youíre atí - someone, not even affiliated with me had tracked me down and said Ďisnít this incredible? Youíre going to be on Heroesí.
And I called my agent and said people are telling me Iím going to be on Heroes. He said Ďhow would they knowí? I said Ďtheyíre Trekkers, they know everythingí. And so thatís almost the way I found out. He says, Ďbut hold onto your hat. We donít know yeít. And he called me in a few hours and said Ďthatís true. Youíre oní.
And what it was, and I guess - well when do I shoot? And they said Ďwell we donít knowí. And he - and then they realized I thought it was just a one-time guest shot. And I said Ďbecause Iíll have to get off from the picture to come iní.
And he said Ďno sweetheart, you have a recurring role. Youíre joining the castí. I was all Ďoh my Godí. And I was delighted. So that was a wonderful wonderful moment.
(Vanessa Coates): Great. And just one last question - it seems that the powers are genetic since thereís a lot of family members who have powers. And since D.L. had it, Monica and Micah all have powers, is it safe to assume you have a power? And if so, can you tell us yet?
Nichelle Nichols: I couldnít tell you if I knew. We very jealousy guard what is coming. Thatís because itís kind of wonderful for the audience to - oh discover it in the moment.
(Vanessa Coates): Yes, I figured as much.
Nichelle Nichols: But I donít know. Dana might know.
Dana Davis: I know nothing.
(Vanessa Coates): I think Dana - I donít know if Dana knew when she had powers. Did you?
Dana Davis: I did. I came into it knowing what my power was, yeah.
Nichelle Nichols: And that it was developing.
Dana Davis: Yeah, butÖ
Nichelle Nichols: All that I keep hearing is we will see what we will see. So that remains to be seen. A little haunting remark from the producers and executive producers, and, you know, people who would or should know.
But maybe theyíre just - theyíre - havenít decided yet or maybe theyíre planning it and they really donít want anyone to know, including me.
(Vanessa Coates): Great. Thank you guys so much.
Coordinator: Ian Spelling, sci-fi.com.
Ian Spelling: Well I have a question for both of you. Dana, how excited are you to be working with Nichelle? And how familiar were you with her work, and with her importance in television in terms of, you know, breaking that whole race barrier that they did back in the sixties with the original Star Trek?
Dana Davis: Wow, I hate to admit this, but Iíd like to keep my game face on. But when I found out that Nichelle was joining the cast, one of the producers told me. He was like Ďguess whoís playing Nanaí? And I was like Ďwhoí, you know?
And he goes ĎNichelle Nicholsí. And I was like Ďshut upí. And I remember I punched him. I was like Ďshut upí. I was so excited and I called like my manager. I ca- and they were like Ďno wayí. Everyone was so excited.
My mom was more excited that I was working with Nichelle than that I was on Heroes. She was like Ďwill you please tell Nichelle that I said hií. And Iím like mom, ĎI canít just say hey guess what, my mom said hií.
But it was so cool. It was surreal. I mean, just - I mean, and she has so much grace and beauty, and I always joke that Iím totally upstaged by her because weíll like walk into a room and people will be like Nichelle, you know?
And itís like Ďhi Iím here, guysí. But itís great. You know, itís a real treat. Iím a big fan and I donít get star struck that often so itís cool to be in her presence evenÖ
Nichelle Nichols: Oh that is beautiful. Well you know, the moment I walked on the set and met Dana, I adopted her. I mean, sheís such a lovely lady and sheís so poised. And I loved her from the moment and I said yeah this is my granddaughter.
Dana Davis: Aw, I always say Iím jealous of Monica because if I could pick a grandma, it would be Nichelle. SoÖ
Nichelle Nichols: I am your Nana - Nana Two.
Dana Davis: Iíll take that. Iíll take that.
Ian Spelling: And Nichelle, for you, how much more of you will we see on the show? How many episodes are you signed for? And the general impression is that you will be part of that adult generation of heroes.
Can we - I know you canít give away too much, but can we at least assume thatís where youíre heading?
Nichelle Nichols: I - the second part of being - as part of the adult, I couldnít be part of anything else but, could I? But I would be honored. Right now itís a recurring role and it keeps growing. And Iím liking it very, very much.
Ian Spelling: How many have you done so far and how many more do you know youíre doing?
Nichelle Nichols: I donít know how many more Iím doing because it - as I said, it continues to extend and I hope it continues to extend and extend, and extend. But I - on the next episode that youíll see me -- I think youíve seen me three times -- my introduction and a couple of scenes.
And those scenes keep - they keep growing and the next one will be a flashback of four months ago, of - and so those things are interesting. Iím just interested in watching it and letting them know what my schedule is so that I can come and do their bidding and become Nana. Itís an absolutely lovely match.
Ian Spelling: Great. And I do have to ask a quick Star Trek follow-up question, which is what do you make of the idea that they are revamping the franchise with a new film? And have you spoken to Zoe Saldana, who is going to be playing Uhura?
Ian Spelling: And if they called you, would you want to be there?
Nichelle Nichols: Ö(unintelligible) with Zoe. I think itís - to answer the first part of your question, I think itís just terrific. And - to know that Geneís legacy shall not only live in what was there when he was here. But that itís going on in that same image and like.
And I think that in J.J. Abramsí hands, itís there - all the respect and all of the wonderful characteristics that made Star Trek what it was will be honored - but I think he will also take it to even new heights as Gene would have loved.
I know that heís up in heaven going like right on, you know. So Iím delighted and Iím looking forward to meeting Zoe and to meeting with J.J. I talked with him and he was a delightful man, although I had met him before. It was just a joy to know that heís taking the helm for Star Trek.
Iíd say as Trekkers that said Star Trek lives and they can just say now Star Trek lives on and on.
Ian Spelling: Great. Thank you, ladies.
Dana Davis: Thanks.
Coordinator: (Gwen Barker), TeenHollywood.com.
(Gwen Barker): Yeah. Hi both of you ladies. Dana, I was wondering if, you know, if you had your characterís power what would you look at once and really want to copy?
Dana Davis: I would want to join the NBA andÖ
(Gwen Barker): Oh, all right.
Nichelle Nichols: All right.
Dana Davis: Iíve always wanted to slam dunk and Iíve always wanted to impress, you know, the boys in my family and stuff like that. So I got a little nephew, too, and he loves NBA. And Iím fascinated with their athletic ability, so Iíd definitely get that.
(Gwen Barker): Well maybe theyíll let you do that. And Nichelle, what - if you - if they do give you a power, what are you kind of hoping youíre going to get there - the power?
Nichelle Nichols: Iím going to keep that under my belt.
(Gwen Barker): Oh, because they might give you your wish, huh?
Nichelle Nichols: I donít want to jinx it.
(Gwen Barker): Okay. And one thing for Dana, your musical abilities are amazing. So are they going to let you use your musical abilities, do you think, in future?
Dana Davis: Theyíre talking about it.
(Gwen Barker): So it may happen?
Dana Davis: You never know. Yeah, they are talking about it so weíll see.
(Gwen Barker): Thatís great. Thank you.
Dana Davis: Yeah.
Coordinator: (Troy Rogers), uto.com.
(Troy Rogers): Now, (actually) for Nichelle, I was wondering - it seems like Heroes is becoming a place for the Star Trek cast to come back to. It had George Takei and now you. I was just wondering, do you think William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are watching this and they might join as well?
Nichelle Nichols: I have no idea. And oddly enough, like I said, I was traveling so much that I was not aware that George - until - had been on, until - had been - had joined the cast, you know, for the time that he did until almost the time that I was - just before I went on, just before I signed on.
I thought that was just amazing. And of course, then I got the first season box of DVDs. And it was so much fun to watch.
(Troy Rogers): Nice. Right on. And actually for Dana - I was wondering, have you used anything from your character Felicia Jones to help you with Monica?
Dana Davis: Well, you know, Felicia and Monica are so different. Felicia was just like so burdened and depressed, and stressed out. Monica is a lot of fun. Sheís got this really upbeat, funny personality and Iím really enjoying playing her. Itís a really big contrast from Felicia and Monica.
(Troy Rogers): Excellent. Thank you.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you.
Dana Davis: Thanks.
Coordinator: Abbie Bernstein, Dreamwatch and the licensed Heroes Magazine.
Abbie Bernstein: Hi. First just a quick question so that I understand the familial relationship. Nana is actually Micahís great grandmother, right, because we met the grandmother in Season One.
Nichelle Nichols: No, sheís Micahís Great Aunt.
Abbie Bernstein: Great - okay, thank you.
Nichelle Nichols: Yes.
Abbie Bernstein: For both of you, is there anything that youíve had in your life that operates the way that Monicaís power does where youíve had something that you observed and just intuitively picked up?
Dana Davis: Oh.
Nichelle Nichols: Dana?
Dana Davis: Nichelle? Not really. I think if I see someone crying, I cry, too. But thatís about it.
Nichelle Nichols: Youíre at an impasse.
Dana Davis: Exactly.
Nichelle Nichols: Well, there have been phenomenas in my family and so Iíve grown up just thinking that what people refer to as powers are natural extension of our lives, of our abilities, and are hidden somewhere in that 90% of our brain that even Einstein hadnít used yet.
So I believe in a higher power and if thereís a higher power Iím part of that. And then Iím part of that, Iím part of some powers that I donít even know that I have. And those that I do know I have, and acknowledge. (Unintelligible)Ö
Abbie Bernstein: And my other question is, Heroes has a rather interesting way of working in that theyíre shooting sometimes three episodes at once, meaning that you can work with three different directors in one day. How is that for you?
Dana Davis: Oh, it was - when I first came - this is Dana. When I first came into the show, I started on Episode 4 on like a Tuesday. And then Wednesday I was on Episode 5. Thursday I was back on Episode 4. It was crazy. Iíd never done that before and really itís very, very stressful for the actor.
But you kind of get used to it. Like right now weíre on Episode 11 and Iíve gotten used to it. At first it was really hard, but now I kind of enjoy it. Itís fun. Thereís never a dull moment on the set.
Nichelle Nichols: I - this is Nichelle and I can attest to that. And Iím really delighted to hear that Dana did have that difficulty because when I first came in and we were shooting one scene. And then itís four months earlier and Iím not sure what took place and where. And I was really at (fleet).
And Iím one, you know - I immediately ask questions. And I think they thought I knew more than I did about the series, and I should be adjusting. But it was very stressful.
Once I understood it, itís like thatís wonderful. Itís like magic. So I just jumped from Magic 1 to Magic 4, to Magic 3 and back to 1 -- and whatever it is. Thatís wonderful. I learned to adjust - make that adjustment and now itís fun.
Abbie Bernstein: Thank you very much for your time.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you, Abbie.
Coordinator: Jay Cochran, Entertainment News International.
Jay Cochran: Hi guys. Thanks for coming on here and talking with us today. My first question is for Dana. I just wanted to ask a little bit more about your powers. I mean, obviously they - youíre able to copy physical things that you see.
But do you know or can you say - does that also translate to like if you see someone use their powers, much like Peter or somebody, are you able to copy those as well? Or is it just simply physical things like being able to copy a fighting style or something that your powers are limited to?
Dana Davis: I think right now my powers - well you know how Heroesí powers have a way of evolving throughout the season. So right now my power is that whatever I see I can do - a physical ability. Itís limited to physical ability.
I think the producers of the show - they already have that element with Peter and with Sylar, you know, the supernatural who can do everything. And I think they wanted to capitalize on the amazing abilities of like human beings, you know.
Theyíre so - I mean, you can just watch the Olympics. Human beings are so amazing and I think they wanted to bring that element in a supernatural way to Heroes with Monica.
Jay Cochran: The second question for you, being that your powers are very physical and youíre a fighter and such, can we expect to see any kind of knockdown, drag out fight scenes with other characters, like maybe Kristin Bellís character or something in the future?
Dana Davis: Youíre going to see a lot - Monica gets pretty tough. As far as will she be with, you know, any other heroes in some cool fights - we can only hope. I really canít say right now. But I can say that Monica - you will see a lot of her fighting. It gets pretty exciting, so I can say that.
Jay Cochran: Okay, thanks. Nichelle, I just wanted to ask you - whatís it being - whatís it like working on a regular TV show again as opposed to like back when you worked on the original Star Trek series?
Is it very similar? Have a lot of things changed? What is it like being a regular cast member on a regular TV show again?
Nichelle Nichols: Well it - on Heroes, itís quite different because of the timed elements can change on you can four months back, as I was saying. You can do flashbacks and you have to adjust to, you know, what your emotion was and who you were.
And Star Trek, we were going forth in peaceful exploration and meeting any difficulties head on that we might have. But I find such a correlation between the two in terms of the human dignity within us.
And that is inspiring. And no matter if there is an evil situation, there is a counter good. And Iím finding the adjustment from one to the other is very natural.
Jay Cochran: Okay. And second question, I was wondering - having Zachary Quinto who plays Sylar and Iím sure you know will be playing the young Mr. Spock in the upcoming Star Trek movie, has he come to talk to you, kind of pick your brain about Star Trek or anything like that - get any tips for his new role - upcoming role in the movie?
Nichelle Nichols: No. I believe Zach has talked with - I know that he has talked with Leonard and I just saw him the other day at a premiere, or an awards show. And he is very, very excited. And he himself is a Trekker and you can imagine how excited he is to be in - be chosen to play Spock, the young Spock.
And I gave him my best wishes. And when I first came on the show, all I had seen of Zach were some pictures in the makeup room. And I said I wasnít sure about that actor, as I was seeing him in a picture, in a photo - which is totally different, totally of the role heís playing in Heroes.
And I couldnít - the moment I met him, I said - I saw him in one of the episodes. I said Ďoh my God, what an actorí. And then when I met him in person, I said this is the young Spock, so they did a brilliant job in casting him.
Jay Cochran: One last quick question - any chance of you having a cameo role in the new Star Trek movie?
Nichelle Nichols: Wouldnít that be nice?
Jay Cochran: Yes it would.
Nichelle Nichols: I will be blasting it all over the world if and when that should happen. I think that would be so wonderful.
Jay Cochran: Okay. Well thank you both very much.
Nichelle Nichols: Okay. Thank you, Jay.
Coordinator: Nina Hammerling, TVGuide.com.
Nina Hammerling: Hi. Thanks you guys for doing this. For both of you, Iím wondering if itís sort of emotionally wrenching playing these two survivors of Hurricane Katrina? What is that experience like?
Nichelle Nichols: Oh.
Dana Davis: Well - this is Dana, and Iíll have to say in the beginning it was because when I did my research and I watched some of the documentaries about Katrina. Iím the kind of person, like I said before, that if I see someone else crying, I cry too. I take on that emotion.
So sometimes I run from it. And when I got this part, I couldnít run from it anymore. And so, you know, I watched a lot of the documentaries and it was just - it made it real to me. I mean, because, you know, Heroes is so surreal and itís fun, bringing in this element of reality - it was hard for me at first.
And so I just kind of keep that with me. I find a way to put it in a box so I can play this upbeat, fun character. But I think it makes the character more real.
Nichelle Nichols: I - this is Nichelle, and I must say that thatís a beautiful correlation to what you feel with the Katrina. I watched Katrina on television like a junkie. I couldnít turn it off.
And I was at the crying stage daily until I - especially with the little children and the people losing their homes, and those who succumb to that pain and watching those who stood tall and - through thick and thin. And I thought, my God that - this is real - this is reality of what can happen.
And Iím in the fire zone a few miles away and though my home is safe, and the surrounding areas, it brought home - it brings home just how delicate your existence can be at any given time.
And to be able to play this role and to have this given circumstance already set out for you, I could relate to her so powerfully and relate to her house, you know. And how she has stood tall and diffident. And the - it either makes you or breaks you.
And Iíve decided - and I could see that Nana was not broken, injured but not broken. And she has a reason to go on to stand tall and to be a strong woman for her granddaughter and grandson.
Nina Hammerling: Thatís great. Thank you so much. And Nichelle, one follow-up question - you had said earlier that some members of your family have exhibited sort of interesting abilities or phenomena. Could you just give us an example of that?
Nichelle Nichols: Well my mother was a genuine psychic. She never got into business for it, but she could interpret dreams. She dreamed and other things, and sensory things. If I walked into the house and something was bothering me, and I was always the kind to shelter my loved ones from my problems.
I walked out, my mother would say okay sit down and tell me whatís the matter. Iíd burst out crying. Iíd walk in the house. Hi Iím home. Guess what I did today? And she says, sit down - tell me whatís the problem.
And she knew before I knew everything. She knew when people were in trouble and she knew when people were pregnant before they did sometimes. And I grew up with this as a natural thing. It was not a phenomena to me until I grew up and people reacted to it, you know.
And I realized that this is something that everybody - not everyone has. And some peopleís are more dynamic than others. But I grew up as - with phenomenaís and appreciations for it.
Nina Hammerling: Thatís great. Thank you very much.
(David Martindale): Hi. I love the show. Youíre both really quite wonderful in it.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you.
(David Martindale): By the way, Nichelle, youíre not required to remember because itís been more than a decade, but weíve talked before for one of the Star Trek movies. I forget which Roman Numeral. But anyway, hi again.
Nichelle Nichols: Well hi to you. Thank you.
(David Martindale): Yeah. Dana, many of the characters on Heroes, they accept their powers begrudgingly, like theyíre cursed instead of blessed.
Dana Davis: Yeah.
(David Martindale): Monica seems to enjoy her powers so far. I think thatís kind of refreshing. What do you think about that? And also, if you were in a position like that in your real life, are you the type of person who would view it as a blessing or as a curse?
Nichelle Nichols: I donít think anything God given is a curse. Itís a matter of how we, but some things that happen to us that we, powers if you have, itís startling when you discover you have it and itís a little disconcerting when you realize that youíre different from other people or other people view you as differently.
But I think that Monica did a wonderful job in being amazed by hers, a little startled by it, you know, and then ally, and then embraced it as bring it on, you know, sheís a young beautiful white woman and here sheís got this, you know, this power to do this and for now itís got to be fun, Monica, yea, aside from getting sore muscles?
Dana Davis: Yea absolutely. I think in the beginning the producer sat down with me and they said just what you said, they said Dana, all the heroes, you know, most of the heroes on the show are burdened by their powers and we want to bring, you know, back the excitement of like when Masi in the beginning was so, you know, yatta! and so excited about his powers they wanted to bring that back, you knowÖ
Nichelle Nichols: Yea.
Dana Davis: Bring it back a little bit with Monica and so it is refreshing, itís fun because Iíve done a lot of drama in my career and Iíve played a lot of burdened sad characters, so itís, itís fun for me to play Monica.
And like, you asked me about if I had a superpower, Iíd be the one whoíd be like on the news, like guess what everybody, I have a superpower and I would announce it to the world because it would be so awesome. But yea, Iím really excited to play somebody who is excited about it, so.
David Gardner: I have a superpower too by the way; I can make change for a dollar.
Dana, how well did you know the show before this opportunity came up? Were you a loyal viewer since the very beginning?
Dana Davis: I was a loyal viewer yes. I actually watched Heroes before anyone else. I got the pilot, because you know actors we get these, we get huge stacks of pilots from our agents...
David Gardner: Right of course.
Dana Davis: And I watched it over the summertime and I was just like, oh my gosh. And I remember calling my friends and being like, I have the newest hit comic. And theyíre like really, and so they came over and we watched the DVD that I had and it was like a ritual, it was a like a Monday night ritual with Heroes. So it was just like so surreal for me to join the cast, you know what I mean? Something Iím a huge fan of so.
Man: I did the same thing with my screener, my critic screener, so we can share a moment there. And Iím from New Orleans. My family still lives there and I know that since there hasnít been like a military type surge to save post-Katrina New Orleans they could really use a hero like Monica.
Now I realize your story might ultimately lead the characters in a completely different place but what do you think of the idea of a Monica and some of her super friends and family cleaning up New Orleans?
Dana Davis: Wow. I think youíre right, youíre right there. Youíre right there with what the producers want after the direction their going. I think that bringing new, the Katrina thing into Heroes thatís not trying to be political, I think what theyíre trying to do is just restore a little bit of hope to a community thatís lost a lot, and yes itís surreal, yes itís make-believe but it restores a little bit of hope to people, I mean you know, theyíre watching it and theyíre like, hey thatís us on TV.
And Iíve said before that once I watched a documentary where they asked like Spike Lee, they said ĎHey, do you think Katrina, do you think that New Orleans can be rebuilt?í And he said, ĎI donít know.í And I said that broke my heart because more people need to say, Ďyes New Orleans can be rebuiltí and I think that it starts with little things like this. Restoring a little bit of hope bit by bit, so.
Man: Good answer. Thanks very much, itís been a pleasure.
Dana Davis: Thanks.
Coordinator: (Raul Mullet) with MSN TV blog.
(Raul Mullet): Hey, thanks again for agreeing to do this. I have a couple questions. The feeling on that New Orleans (answer), some people Iíve seen on my blog and elsewhere have said itís kind of exploitative for the show to have characters set in New Orleans and I was wondering what you guys make of that?
Nichelle Nichols: I think thatís silly.
Dana Davis: I thinkÖ
Nichelle Nichols: Thatís as if to deny that it happened or that what happened happened and that and is a great tragedy, that when it happens to one person in the United States, if youíre a citizen, it happens to us all.
And to acknowledge it and to bring it to some there and to make it part of something called Heroes is to do honor, and the honor that could be done even more in the re-building of that beautiful city and that beautiful state of New Orleans is to show how it can be done and it can be done just like the President came to California when Malibu is burning, to give assistance.
That kind of immediate attention to New Orleans (that has) saved and would have saved and still can, as to what it takes a lot of lives and a lot of pain, and can rebuild New Orleans. What are you going to do? Drop it off of the map?
Dana Davis: Yea, I think she said it. She said everything; I mean thatís exactly it.
Nichelle Nichols: Itís too beautiful, this country is too beautiful to write off one place as canít be saved, thatís just whoever thinks that, Iím an optimist and a rebuilder so thatís my answer.
(Raul Mullet): Okay, then on another front there, we got a glimpse of an (Isaac Comic Book) with who is (St. Joan) and I was wondering Dana if that means that Monica might actually take up a costume and start fighting crime?
Dana Davis: Wow, I donít even know what I can say. But I can say that thatís a good guess. I can say that. But I think thatís all I can say.
(Raul Mullet): What sort of spoilers can you give us?. Can you just throw us a bone somewhere about whatís going on with both your characters in the next couple episodes say?
Dana Davis: David? What can we say; I mean itís hard.
David Gardner: I think in the next of episodes though you can certainly talk about exploring your powers with Micah, with the character with Noah, and that youíre going to be crossing, youíre going to be meeting some new heroes. Youíre going to be crossing over with other characters in some surprising ways.
Dana Davis: Yea well I think, and also Monica is going to go a place that no NBC hero has gone before you know, itís going to be really fun to see Monicaís story unfold because itís something thatís not been done on Heroes yet, so itíll be very fun.
(Raul Mullet): How do you mean?
Dana Davis: Oh gosh.
Nichelle Nichols: Wait and see. How could you possible want to know in advance?
Dana Davis: I wish I could say. I think thatís as much as I can say, you know, weíre like sworn to secrecy so weíre not, we like for the fans to find out you know, as it still plays, sometimes spoilers get out but we try to keep as much, you know, secret as possible. But yea.
(Raul Mullet): Okay, can you talk about working with Noah and the actor who plays (Damon)?
Dana Davis: Oh man Noah is like, I love that kid. Like he is like the little brother I never got. I love him to death. I mean I have a little nephew whoís 12 and so on the set Noah and I, itís just like weíre just having fun and itís interesting because Iím the kind of actor who when I get into a role I sort of really get into it and a lot of my characters have been kind of sad and burdened and so now that Iím playing this fun loving character on the set, me and Noah are just like laughing, talking, weíre getting in so much trouble.
The other day we just got yelled at by the director because weíre laughing and joking around and heís like Dana, Noah, please. And weíre just, itís so fun to work with him, you know. I think Iím like, you know, 12 years old at heart because me and Noah, heís like my best buddy now and the little actor who plays (Damon), his name is (Carlon), I just love him.
Weíll sit at the table on the set and weíll play with cars and weíll have arm wrestling fights and people are like, hey Dana how old are you, you know. So, I have a lot of fun working with those kids. I love them to death.
(Raul Mullet): Okay and one last question. Nichelle, I was wondering if you have any thoughts for what you would like to see (unintelligible) do in the new Star Trek movie?
Nichelle Nichols: That I would like to see Nana?
(Raul Mullet): Right. No no. Going back to the Star Trek movie.
Nichelle Nichols: (Are you talking about the Star Trek)?
(Raul Mullet): I was wondering if you, I was wondering if you have any thoughts you can share about what you would like to see Uhura do in the new movies.
Nichelle Nichols: I do have some but I donít want to discuss them yet because I think I am going to meet with Zoe and let her pick my brain if she wants to, but I would like to hold that in abeyance to (unintelligible) to see what she, because sheís such a lovely actress and creative actress herself.
Iíd love to wait and see what she brings to it so that I can understand, so that I can get to see what, who and what Uhura was like and how she, I would like to see what the qualities were that Uhura, Nyota Uhura had that qualified her to go on that first five-year mission where no man or woman had gone before.
(Raul Mullet): Okay.
Nichelle Nichols: I think she might bring some interesting new qualities to the characters.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Hi ladies. Thanks for doing the call. Dana, my first question is for you. I know earlier you were mentioning a little bit about how they may incorporate your musical abilities into the show, but what about off the show, are you still finding time to play music or are you just super busy like training for the fight scenes and things like that?
Dana Davis: I am. I am really, really busy with the show and I havenít had a lot of time to devote to anything else. Itís funny because before I joined the cast of Heroes I was an insomniac. I have suffered from insomnia for like so long. Now that Iím on the show seriously I sleep like a baby. Iím so tired all the time.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Thatís good though.
Dana Davis: Yea.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Does the like viola or anything help you unwind after a day of work normally when you do have time for it?
Dana Davis: Not lately. I havenít been able to devote any time to music. Itís unfortunate but hopefully Iíll get back to it.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Great. And my next question is for Nichelle. What have you seen, have you seen any similarities between die hard Heroes fans and between maybe die hard Trekkers?
Nichelle Nichols: Thatís a good question because die-hard Trekker fans are die-hard Hero fans.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Okay.
Nichelle Nichols: I discovered when shortly after within days that I had been cast as Nana and had not reported yet, so it was still almost thought to be like a secret, it was still a surprise and of course Trekkers had heard the rumor and here I am in Las Vegas before 30,000 people and a couple of weeks later in Atlanta before 40,000 people and when I had gotten permission to say, yes I am, I can confirm the rumor that I will be joining cast of Heroes, that place came apart, like you absolutely could not believe, it was thunderous.
And so the approval of it and the joy that their Star Trek star was going in the cast of the stars of Heroes was like a Ė it was amazing and it went on for a good four or five minutes.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Some cheering.
Nichelle Nichols: Oh there was screaming and yelling and yes, you know. So I was off and running to a good start you know.
(Monica Sodermeyer): Great. Well thank you so much ladies.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you so much.
Coordinator: (Fred Coppell), Crave Online.
(Fred Coppell): Hi.
Nichelle Nichols: Hello.
(Fred Coppell): Nichelle, obviously the Heroes story lines are well kept secrets. Was it ever like that on Star Trek keeping surprises for the audience?
Nichelle Nichols: Actually no not so much a surprise but we were working five days a week, you know, and we never had much time in those first weeks of putting the show on because we had no audience yet as we started out all together.
And when the show went on and we began to get this fan mail so amazing, we were all excited and then the mail started coming in asking us questions of this and weíll read that and were we going, what was going to happen, we were still, of course, dizzy filming and so but we didnít have that sense of keeping it all secret as this Ė because it wasnít that, that was not the focus as such as now.
But episode after episode was with or of, with the entire cast and guest actors so it was more the adventure each time that was about to take place that our fans sat and waited to find out whatís going on, it could happen this week.
(Fred Coppell): For each of you besides each other, who have you enjoyed having scenes with so far?
Nichelle Nichols: Well I have enjoyed Micah and (Damon) so much. They are the exact opposite of characters of what theyíre playing. Like (Damon) plays this little demon that canít stand his cousin, you know, he wants to do him in and then the moment, and heís so good at it, you believe heís this little monster, and the moment they say cut the two of them are laughing and falling into each others arms and doing, and wrestling and playing games and then he says okay letís first team up, up and then scene is there, bang theyíre right back together.
And Micah is, as Dana has said, is a phenomenal artist a pianist, his music is amazing and I thought he was playing the player piano and that was him. And so when I said Ďisnít it wonderful that we have another musician in the houseí it was a fact and that he really was a musician in the house and his charm, both of them, are so captivating. I just enjoy them so much. And of course, Iím glad you said besides Dana.
(Fred Coppell): Right.
Nichelle Nichols: Because Iíve just never really worked with anyone quite so poised and talented and beautiful and Iím really, and young, and Iím really, really proud to be working with her.
(Fred Coppell): Dana, same question?
Nichelle Nichols: To go further with what Nichelle said about little Noah and (Carlon) which plays (Damon), their relationship is so adorable, I mean the other day I caught them like making a secret handshake and I was just like, oh this is so cute. These little boys are so cute.
But Iíve also had a chance to work with Sendhil who plays Mohinder, and oh what an amazing, amazing guy, I mean you know Sendhilís this beautiful like he looks like he should be a GQ model or something and youíd think heíd be like the bling, bling Hollywood-type guy, but really heís just a sweet family man with like this heart of gold who talks about his family and his child and I mean, just never have I met in reality the whole Heroes cast, never have I met such down to earth people. I thought was going to go into this, you know, with these you know, these stars and these, you know, these big heads that you hear about in Hollywood, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Nichelle Nichols: Yes I agree with that too. I have in the dressing room, I havenít met the whole cast, this is Nichelle. I havenít met the whole cast but some who were on the lots came into make-up and theyíd walk up to me and grab me and hug me and say oh it is so good to have you joining us and like Hayden and just any of them that Iíve met and Iím looking forward to meeting the rest of them and really enjoying the ones that Iím working with.
(Fred Coppell): Who are each of you looking forward to having scenes with in upcoming episodes?
Nichelle Nichols: Anybody who will have me. Any of them on there because Iíve been to awards shows and see how beautiful they are with one another and how they have treated me and so I can only hope that they might come to New Orleans or I might come up there where they are.
Dana Davis: Yea I agree itís like in a sense you feel sometimes kind of isolated from the cast because the stories kind of stand on their own so well.
Nichelle Nichols: Yes.
Dana Davis: So I look forward to the moments when we all work together more often itíll be fun, so even when weíre just in the trailers itís a blast, weíre laughing andÖ
Nichelle Nichols: Exactly.
Dana Davis: Öyou know, weíre in the make-up trailer. I just canít wait for that to be brought into the work element so.
(Fred Coppell): All right, thank you both.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you.
Coordinator: (Steve Aramo), TV Zone Magazine.
(Steve Aramo): Hi Dana, hi Nichelle. Thanks again for taking the time to do this today.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you (Steve).
Dana Davis: Yea.
(Steve Aramo): My first question is for Dana and I want to find out Dana, did you always want to be an actress while you were growing up or did you have other professions in mind?
Dana Davis: No, you know whatís funny is my Mom took me to the theater for the first time when I was six years old and I was just amazed by it, and I just said, Ďhey Mom can I do this too?í And so she signed me up for little theater classes and I remember my first audition for a play when I was seven years old was for The Thankful Elf and I remember all the little kids getting up, auditioning for The Thankful Elf and Iím sitting there like, no, The Thankful Elf would not say it like that, and I just knew, I knew who the Thankful Elf was and so for my first audition I booked the lead as the Thankful Elf and so Iíve been acting ever since.
I used to ask my Mom when I was ten years old, can we move to LA, please, please. I would look in the Chicago Times because Iím from the Midwest and I would look for auditions and Iíd be like, ĎMom thereís an audition in Chicago, can you take me?í
Sheíd be like, no you got to wait, wait, because we just didnít have the financial resources for me to do that. And so I waited until I was 18, I went college hunting when I was 16. I was on a mission. Like I knew what I wanted to do when I was just a little girl so.
(Steve Aramo): Good for you, thatís great.
Nichelle Nichols: Thatís beautiful. I didnít know you were from the Midwest and Iím from Chicago myself.
Dana Davis: Oh wow, yea two hours outside. Iím actually from Iowa, but like two hours outside of Chicago.
Nichelle Nichols: And grew up in musical theater there, yea itís lovely.
(Steve Aramo): And my other question for Nichelle, I wanted to find out Nichelle, what has made a career in this industry rewarding for you so far would you say?
Nichelle Nichols: Accomplishment. Being able, the most rewarding thing about it for me is to be, being able to make my living doing the one thing or the things that I love the most and would probably do for free.
I would have done it anyway. I, that creative little theater in Chicago with my little playmates and wrote musicals and plays and of course always wrote myself as the star.
And I, directors like that or Iíll say my Dadís got a (barn), my Mom can sew and I grew up making costumes and dreaming and dreaming of Broadway. And a funny thing happened to me on my way to theater is Star Trek interrupted my career and made - and changed my life and Iíve never looked back. Iíve never been more happy in my life.
(Steve Aramo): Thatís great.
Nichelle Nichols: Yes.
(Steve Aramo): Dana and Nichelle, and absolute pleasure. Thank you again so much for your time.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you so much.
Coordinator: Our next question then is from (Renee Burrell), thescifiworld.net.
(Renee Burrell): Nichelle and Dana thank you very much for spending this time with us. Nichelle Iíd like to ask a little bit about Lady Magdalene. How was your experience as an executive producer, writer, singer of that particular project?
Nichelle Nichols: Oh that was one of the most incredible experiences because I was in as a producer I understood and executive producer who was the writer and director and also acted and to work side-by-side and to make this with these actors and to make these things happen and wearing hats that Iíd never worn before, that I hadnít always worn as a professional, was very challenging.
It was at times very frustrating and to bring out this character of Lady Magdalene whose the owner of a brothel and not make her into the stereotypical broad, mean, you know, tawdry person that is still in a profession that is not exactly gets accolades, but to bring out the woman in her and her soft side and her strong side and tough side and her what is happening to her.
And then all of the things happening around thatís going through her brothel was a real challenge because I knew nothing about it and it was really a challenge and one that Iím still working at with the funding and the distributors and it was, and learning editing and so forth, and being involved in all the aspects of it with Neil Schulman, the producer and director was really something and itís an experience that I treasure.
(Renee Burrell): Thank you. And Dana, what could you tell us about Prom Night?
Dana Davis: Well Prom Night is just a slasher movie, itís a teenage slasher movie set with the backdrop of like the most awesome prom Hollywood style you can imagine, I mean thereís a slasher on the loose, thereís blood. Itís just fun. Itís just pure fun and I got a chance to see a rough cut and it turned out pretty good. Iím really proud of it, you know, even though itís, you know it is what it is but I had a lot of fun doing it.
Nichelle Nichols: Dana, when do I get to see it?
Dana Davis: It comes out next year but weíll work something out.
Nichelle Nichols: Okay.
(Renee Burrell): Well thank you very much.
Dana Davis: Thanks.
Nichelle Nichols: Thank you Renee.
Coordinator: This is a follow-up from (Lynn Barker), TeenHollywood.com.
(Lynn Barker): Hi ladies, thanks for sticking with us. This is a serious question. A lot of African American kids are being raised by grandparents due to divorce or problems in the family with either parent and I wonder if both of you are really, feel gratified to be able to present a positive example of the grandmom and grandkids relationship on TV?
Nichelle Nichols: I feel rather honored to play it. I never thought of myself as growing up to be, you know, in my career as the, as lasting long enough to have a wonderful role as a grandmother because grandmothers are always you know the old lady that this is a new type of grandmother and thatís portrayed but is the type of grandmothers that have always been, especially the ones who have had the opportunity to raise their grandchildren and to see them flourish and itís, I never got to know my grandparents on either side, my motherís or my fathers but I saw my mother and father be great-grandparents to all of their childrenís offspring and I really base Nana in honor of my mother (Lishia).
(Lynn Barker): Thatís great.
Nichelle Nichols: Dana, do you have something to say about that?
Dana Davis: Yea, I just think itís beautiful what Heroes does because sometimes on TV they give this image of you know, the perfect little family with the white picket fence and the mom and the dad and everythingís so great.
Well, Heroes shows you more of a reality, just like with the first season I was so happy to see a little bi-racial kid with a white mother because thatís reality, I mean that is so real and I think that, just like you said, itís real that grandparents are raising their grandchildren, our sisters are having to raise little brothers I mean, reality, itís not so sad you know, we can show something thatís real and not, you know, make people upset so.
(Lynn Barker): Thatís great. Thank you both.
Coordinator: And Abbie Bernstein, Dreamwatch and the licensed Heroes magazine.
Abbie Bernstein: Hi, without asking for a direct spoiler there have been some rumors about a particular type of person coming onto the show, so does what we find out about Monica have anything to do with her personal life?
Dana Davis: Ask that question again?
Abbie Bernstein: Does the thing that weíre going to find out about Monica have something to do with her personal life?
Dana Davis: Yes.
Abbie Bernstein: Okay, there have been rumors, Iím not sure if the rumors turn out to be about Monica but thank you very much.
Dana Davis: Mm hm.
Nichelle Nichols: Aha.
Nichelle Nichols: (Canít wait to get back to the set Dana).
Woman: Anyway thank you Nichelle and thank you Dana very much for doing the call.