PEOPLE: Dancing Diana’s career in acting, performing and art

Dancing may not be what most people associate with LinkedIn, the professional social media platform, but this is one of the many ways Diana Nguyen – aka #DancingDiana – has built her profile and career in entertainment.

In 2019, Diana co-created Phi and Me, the first ever Vietnamese Australian family comedy series, and she is passionate about sharing diverse stories with the world.

In this interview, Diana sheds lights on what it’s like to work in the entertainment industry, where she sees the industry going, and her advice to others starting out.

  • What is your biggest career learning to date, and how have you changed your day-to-day based on that learning? 

Self love, self care and self belief is so important in this business. This is my 15th year in the business. The longer I’m in the business, I seem to behave and think younger. This is because I increasingly know who I am and what my heart aligns to in the industry, which is to see diverse work, and stories shared.

  • How did you get into the entertainment industry? What’s your advice for others looking to break into it? 

I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was 3 years old with my first piano. 15 years later, I finished my Bachelor of Arts in University and then tried out at the odd auditions with the support of family and friends. 

My advice would be – like any industry – going to school, doing personal development, and workshops are so important to the craft. It’s also important to network. To make it work, being connected is so important. It is who you know that matters to get job referrals.

  • What do you enjoy most and least about being in the entertainment industry? 

I love being in front of an audience, no matter what size, and creating a shift in the room.

The least enjoyable part is the industry’s tokenism regarding my skin colour for their diversity agenda. I have had many discussions about this, and I have even used this to sell tickets as a niche, but when white institutions use me to feel good and tick boxes I feel used.

  • What’s your advice to others who may be going through the experience of being treated as a token ‘X’ person for a role, team or performance? How should they address the situation and people involved? 

Ask questions. Talk about it openly. Don’t become the joke. In the beginning of my career, I used tokenism to get work, because usually I would be the only Asian in a theatre show. The business then created this fear that if there was another Asian, they would be “taking my job.” 

Isn’t that crazy?

There are so many of us who want to work, tell stories and create work, however this limitation forces us to compete or leave the industry altogether.

To change this – Write your own work.

  • Do you have examples of how you’ve managed this effectively before? 

I have written over 10 theatre shows in my lifetime and 3 stand-up shows. I create content about me, and what is it like to be a human. Not an Asian human, but a human. 

Write your own story.

  • Is the entertainment industry more intense online? Why or why not? 

The entertainment online is liberating for people who wouldn’t have a chance in the audition room.

We saw it with YouTube and WongFu Productions kicking it.

Now we see TikTok literally blowing up.

  • What do you see as the big entertainment trends in 2020? 

LinkedIn and TikTok.

I have grown a great community on LinkedIn, who have supported Phi and Me, and TikTok with its huge growth, why not?

  • Any other comments on this topic?

If you really believe in the craft, go to school. I wish I had the self belief to put more education into my system.

About the expert

Diana is an actor, comedian, vagabonder, basketballer, wine drinker, laugh maker & friend.

Her mum wanted her to be a doctor, she became an actor.

Her mum is now her biggest fan, and wants to be an actor too. Diana is a writer, producer, director, theatre maker, guest speaker, drama facilitator, MC and performer.

She is a LinkedIn video content creator with 32k followers. She is known as #DancingDiana, and she hosts #JustDoingKaraoke with over 100 interviews on LinkedIn.

Diana is co-creator and executive producer of #PhiandMeTV, the first ever Vietnamese Australian family comedy series released June 16th 2019.

Diana’s comedy festival show called Chasing Keanu Reeves is touring Melbourne and Sydney in April and March.