Cicily Daniels’ Hereafter Is Present Time

Though she may not be a household name yet, Cicily Daniels is making significant strides on both stage and screen. From appearing in Broadway’s The Little Mermaid as Ursula the sea witch to co-starring in the original episodes of Ugly Betty, Cicily Daniels always stays prepped for the next career opportunity. This Broadway veteran is very clear about what it takes to make it in the big time.

Though her Yale Drama training has served her well, early on Cicily Daniels understood that hard work and an ounce of good luck were important components of an actor’s career. And the hard work has reaped rewards. Season after season Cicily has appeared on Broadway and in the touring companies of some of the most successful stage musicals.

Fashion Reverie caught up with Cicily after the premiere of the Off-Broadway smash Hereafter Musical. Cicily brought her cheery disposition and seasoned wisdom as she talked about her love of the stage, her love of fashion and her zest for life.

 Fashion Reverie: How did you come to be cast in the Hereafter Musical?

Cicily Daniels: It was very coincidental, actually. My boyfriend is friends with the choreographer/director of the show and through him I learned that there was to be a casting for the Hereafter Angel Choir. Unfortunately, I was going to be out of town during the casting dates and I was able to arrange my schedule and they producers gave me a special audition. The producers liked me, and my agent arranged my contract and I was cast in the show; simple, but not so simple.

FR: You are a part the Hereafter Angel Choir which consists of three female vocalists. Could you talk about that?

Cicily Daniels: We serve as a Greek chorus throughout the show. So, as angels we are able to see everything that occurring in the show. We are able to interact with the living and the dead, but no one can see us. We can also imbue the living and the dead with our help.

FR: The Hereafter Angel Choir reminds of the doo-wop girls in Little Shop of Horrors. Did the writers of the show draw from that reference?

Cicily Daniels: The producers wanted to have a girl group motif as the angels because together we harmonize really well, and we able to solo singing, as well as backup singing. And we enhance all the songs that are in the show.

FR: The Hereafter Angel Choir was also a nice addition to the gospel-inspired number in the show.

Cicily Daniels: The song “Someday” was written by Vinnie Favale, and the deceased B-movie actress Anita (Frankie Keane) is trying to tell the living that there is hope to connect with loved ones in the hereafter. Our voices really connected with Frankie and the number is very moving.

FR: You have had such a varied career from being in four Broadway shows to being a co-star in the initial episodes of Ugly Betty. Could you talk about your Ugly Betty experience?

Cicily Daniels: It was a wonderful experience and my character—the main character’s lunchtime friend at the fashion magazine—initially was a much bigger part and was a carryover from the original Ugly Betty Mexican novella. The character got dropped from the show due to budget constraints and a reworking of the series. Although Ugly Betty became a huge hit, at first it was not a series that was major priority for the network and did not have a big budget.

FR: In that the premise for Ugly Betty is the goings on at a glossy fashion magazine, when you found out that you had been cast, did you do any background research on fashion magazines or the fashion industry?

Cicily Daniels:  I wish I could say I used my Method Acting skills to do that particular type of research, but I didn’t. Coincidentally, the timing of Ugly Betty’s premiere was around the same time as the Devil Wears Prada, which was an interesting time when people were getting a more intimate glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at fashion magazines. At the time I had just viewed the Yves Saint Laurent documentary, so culturally I was attuned to what was going in the fashion world. Plus, I live in NYC and the fashion community is all around me.

FR: Who are some of your favorite designers?

Cicily Daniels: I am not a big fashionista, but I like Cynthia Rowley a lot which appeals to my feminine sense of fashion. I love Elie Tahari’s jeans. I absolutely adore Diane Von Furstenberg and I usually wear her wrap dresses to castings or auditions. And projecting into the future when I get married I have to wear a Monique L’huillier wedding gown.

FR: What is your own personal style?

Cicily Daniels: Because my family is from the South, that kind of southern sensibility of a feminine, lady-like aesthetic permeates by sense of style. I like clothes that a form flattering. I also like old Hollywood glamour.

Cicily Daniels as Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray”

FR: Has your career turned out to be what you thought it would be?

Cicily Daniels: You can never predict what kind of acting career you are going to have. Until you immerse yourself in this industry you really don’t have any idea the amount of hard work it takes or the risks involved. When I moved to NYC after Yale Drama School I immediately sized up my competition, so to speak, and I realized I had a lot of work to do. But I must say the hard work has propelled me forward.

There are moments that are dreamlike, like my debut in Rent on Broadway. My Dad had just passed away and I felt that he was with me on stage that night. Also, I recently did my first red-carpet event, and I was all dolled up with major media and paparazzi taking my photo. That was a lot of fun; icing on the cake!!

—William S. Gooch

 

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