Interview by Sarah Shumick
After graduating from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, Dana Anderson hopped around to many “day jobs” while working in theatre in the evenings. For a number of years, Anderson worked as a freelance stage manager in the Columbus area, eventually settling into a full time position as the Managing Director at Short North Stage. While she loved her role, Anderson found that “there isn’t much of a work-life balance working in theatre.” That’s what ultimately led her to Acceptd. Of her current role, Anderson says, “It has been such a joy to work within an arts capacity, help people flourish, and be able to get home in time for dinner.”
What’s new and exciting at Acceptd? We recently had a brand refresh, which has been really exciting! Our brand team has reworked our logo, our colors and our general feel to better represent everything Acceptd values. Along with that, our staff has been growing so much, and it has been amazing to see so many new faces on our team thriving.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek? Honestly, I love what I do and I feel good about what I contribute to the world through this job. I think that’s huge for me, really knowing that I’m making someone else’s life a little better just by showing up. It’s a double win for me since I also get to talk about the arts with our partners. My coworkers are what gets me through the work week when it really feels like “work”. One of our core values is choosing joy, and there’s always someone there to make you laugh, take a walk, or listen if you need some encouragement during the week. They are truly awesome!
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way? My grandma was definitely my biggest mentor. I was lucky enough to grow up close to her, and I spent most of my time at the community theatre she started in North Canton, Ohio. I was able to witness first hand that if you want to do something, you can find a way to do it. She was a huge advocate for “passing the energy” in everything you do, but would also famously remind me from the time I was a child that “life’s a beach.” Those are two things that I remember the most when trying something new, to pass along the positive energy I have – and that life can be a beach sometimes. Also, my Aunt Lisa has been like a mom to me and now runs the theatre my Grandma started – so my life has been filled with strong, amazing women who always led by their actions.
What are some of your work-life balance challenges? How do you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle? I consider myself really lucky to work for a company that actively considers work-life balance when making decisions about the company. I love that I’m able to work from home if I have an especially busy day after work, if I’m traveling, or when I just need a quiet day to get through the hustle and bustle. It helps to have great coworkers that encourage a work-life balance, so there’s never any guilt when you leave for the day – even on the busiest of days.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind? I love to be home with my fiancée, pup, and kitten. She and I are both secretly homebodies so that’s my happy place. If we’re not playing board games at home, we’re probably at a brewery or seeing a show with friends.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be everything from an actor and director, to a teacher, to a firefighter… I remember changing my mind a lot growing up. Now I can attribute that to my Grandma, who always encouraged me to keep dreaming a little bigger and a little wider.
What podcasts are you listening to right now? I’m really into crime podcasts. I love Crime Junkie, The Vanished and Criminal. I just started listening to the new Orange is the New Black podcast, From Where She Stands. I also love The Daily for my morning news and Invisibilia. I’m also working my way through Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. I love people’s real-life stories.
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus? I love Columbus, so I would say first and foremost, that you can’t really go wrong with anything here. I love all of the breweries, I would say don’t miss out on North High Brewing, Land Grant Brewing, and Combustion Brewery (I’m getting married there next year!). Ice cream: Jeni’s. Tacos: Local Cantina. Fun place to feel like a kid: COSI and the riverfront. Theatre: Short North Stage. I love all of the festivals and parades we have that showcase our community and the heart of Columbus – the Doo Dah Parade, Pride, Comfest, Highball, and so many more.
Tell us about an initiative(s) or organization(s) you are most passionate about and/or involved with: I’m really passionate about the theatre community here and have loved being a part of it. It’s really important that we have a wide range of theatre here, from youth theatre to professional theatre being produced with local actors. I think making the arts accessible to everyone (to be involved, to be paid for, to attend affordably) is the best thing we can do for our community. I also feel very passionately about the environment and recycling, so I’m very thankful that the city has taken the initiative to implement recycling programs over the last few years.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? The people, for sure. It’s the people and their hearts for love, justice, and inclusion.