Whew…what else can I saw about this amazing woman?! I met Raven Dauda over ten years ago when producing/directing a special web series during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, and have followed her career throughout her stage and screen projects that include…take a big breath….the following TV series: Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, Odyssey 5, The Firm, Rookie Blue, Orphan Black, Heroes Reborn, Suits, Designated Survivor, Murdoch Mysteries, and The Umbrella Academy. She has had recurring roles in Star Trek: Discovery, Annedroids, Saving Hope, Falling Water and Utopia Falls. She also provided her voice for the revival animated series Clifford: The Big Red Dog. Raven has appeared in feature films such as Gossip (2000) and Bulletproof Monk (2003), and on stage in her Dora Award-winning one-woman play Addicted, which was based on her own past struggles. And the kudos keep on comin’ – she recently portrayed Angela McManus in Five Days at Memorial for which she receive the 2023 ACTRA Award.I recently spoke with Raven about her most recent award and she shared her thoughts on missing the presentation ceremony (she was busy filming at the time), her career, and her challenges and triumphs…
First, let me congratulate you on your recent ACTRA Award win. How exciting was that? Now that Covid is in the rear-view mirror as far as public gatherings, were you there personally to receive the award? Thank you so much. Wow! Yes, it was so very exciting and quite the honour to receive the 2023 ACTRA Award for my portrayal of Angela McManus in Five Days at Memorial. I was (unfortunately) unable to attend the award ceremony in person because I was (fortunately) filming in Ottawa at the time. However, it was still a very, very special day, because although I wasn’t able to walk the red carpet, I was able to bring the red carpet to work. And so, I got dressed up in a fabulous red dress before I had to shoot my scenes, and was lucky enough to have help taking the most gorgeous pictures … and it just became a very festive and lovely time on set. We were able to get everyone together to take a group picture too (see below). It was so much fun and truly a perfect way to honour the day and commemorate my win. I’m still vibrating from it all!You’ve received multiple awards throughout your 25+year career – does it still feel special when you’re rewarded for your work? Oh yes…absolutely! Each and every time it feels incredibly special. Yes, we all know that we don’t do our work for the accolades and awards. We as artists, I feel, are driven by our innate desire to create and express and tell stories. I am deeply touched and honoured by the fact that my peers and our amazing community continue to support and celebrate my work and contributions to this world. It feels so special because each time is different. Each time is its own sacred individual project and moment. Each time is like the first time – in fact it is the first (and only) time for that particular project and role. I have a very special place for my awards in my home, where I am able to see them daily and reflect upon how incredible my career is, and how grateful I am for this artistic community that every now and then lets me know that I’m doing something right … and to keep on going!
You’ve worked on some of TV’s most popular shows (Star Trek: Discovery, Saving Hope, Orphan Black, Designated Survivor) – is there any one role that you enjoyed more that the rest or that challenged you beyond your comfort zone? My career has truly been extraordinary in that time and again I have had powerful and often profound opportunities and roles that have challenged me as an artist, and have helped me to grow in ways consciously and subconsciously that I’m still reaping the benefits of to this day. These roles that have challenged me – whether it was playing Charmaine in the theatrical smash hit Da Kink In My Hair or playing psychotherapist Dr. Lauren Halstrom opposite the incomparable Tony Goldwyn in The Hot Zone: Anthrax, I have experienced many moments that have pushed me beyond my comfort zone and have been extremely rewarding. However, I would have to say that playing Angela McManus in Five Days at Memorial has been one of the most challenging and life-changing roles for me in that it asked of me to dig deeper and to expand my heart and ability as an actor in ways that I hadn’t before. And for that I am forever thankful and particularly proud of the work that I did on that extraordinary show.You’ve also done voice-over work for the popular kids animated series, Clifford the Big Red Dog – how did you enjoy that process? Working on Clifford The Big Red Dog was a total hoot! Actually, it was a hoot and a half! Soooo much fun! It is such an iconic show. Clifford The Big Red Dog means so much to so many. For me, I can’t think of Clifford without thinking of beloved actor John Ritter. And so being a part of that educational legacy meant a lot to me in many ways. I’m a huge fan of educational programming for children that is dynamic and fun. I’ve been blessed to work on other such shows as Team Top Wing where I played Rhonda Rhino. Working on Clifford was great because the characters were so much fun. I played Mrs. Clayton the librarian and she had this quirkiness about her that I just loved. I also got to sing in that role and anything where I get to sing is a treat for me. But I think what was the icing on the cake during that job was working with animation royalty, Alyson Court. I’ve known Alyson since high school and she was already a rock star for starring in animated shows like Beetlejuice and X-Men, but now she is also one of the top animation casting/directors in the biz and her knowledge and experience in animation is pure gold. Working with her on CTBRD was so very special because it was so rewarding to reconnect with her and work with her in that capacity. And trust me when I say I learned a heck of a lot from her. Of her career and what she does, I am so proud and deeply inspired.
You have a very impressive theatrical resume – do you prefer stage or screen, or do you embrace both equally? I think I embrace both stage and screen equally. Both of them are very different mediums and artistic art forms that have different things to offer and various challenges, benefits and ways of working within those mediums. Working in both stage and screen has taught me very different things about myself and my acting, and how I adjust my performance for both mediums and how I reach the audience at the end of the day. So for me, they are each their own different, distinct, unique animal, if you will, and at this stage in my life, I love and appreciate them both equally because they feed me and inform me and help me to grow in diverse ways.You’ve previously developed stage and screen projects that involve writing, directing, acting, producing…gasp!….yourself. What’s the best (or worst) part of doing it all yourself? The best part I guess of doing it all yourself is that it really shows you what a megalomaniac you are…LOL! But seriously, it makes evidently clear what your thought process, values and biases are. It shines a big ol’ spotlight on what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses… and there is something so great in that. For me it helped me to understand myself in a very intimate way.By cutting out the middleman and just doing it all in-house if you will, I find creating a project becomes more of a meditative thing, it becomes something a bit more intimate and internal and you really gotta be organized and self-disciplined. However, on the flipside, since you are doing “it all” needless to say it can be very stressful. I think the greatest thing that it’s taught me is that we actually can’t and don’t do it all on our own. We cannot do any of these artistic works on our own. It’s a communal sport. It’s all about community. And therefore, you need that village, that beautiful artistic village to help raise it and to help bring your visions and creative projects to light. And so even if it’s called a one-man show or a one-woman show… it’s not. And that’s a beautiful thing… and so because of creating my own pieces I now value even more on a whole other level, the opinions, abilities and gifts of others when they choose to collaborate on projects with me. And lemme tell ya, I cannot wait to create some more goodies – so stay tuned!
I know you’re also a brilliant designer (I’ve seen your stunning jewellery) – with all the showbiz projects you’re currently involved with, do you still have time to design and craft your treasures? Thank you for that compliment. You know, I miss making jewellery and creating my art in that way. I don’t have as much time as I did before. Every now and then I knit little projects when I’m on set. I have this dream of having a fashion show of my works. Maybe one day. In the meantime, I like to create some simpler things like bath soaps and oils. Things that I use every day on myself. I make a lot of homemade treasures and magical potions that I’m constantly testing on myself or giving to friends… cause hey, sometimes friends are the best guinea pigs.What’s up next for Raven Dauda? What’s up next for Raven Dauda? Well, I’m actually bringing back my Dora Award winning show Addicted. It’s going to be touring in Halifax at The Neptune Theatre March 12th – 24th 2024. (https://www.neptunetheatre.com/box-office/addicted) and it will also be playing in Costa Rica in February at The Teatro De La Tierra (more details to come on that performance shortly). So in the meantime, I am currently tweaking the script, making some adjustments, and delving into the piece again from this other space and place in my life… and it’s quite extraordinary. It’s surreal and humbling to be revisiting this piece, a little bit older, maybe somewhat wiser, and with a different perspective on what addiction, recovery, sobriety, mental health and holistic living is. I’m also working on other shows that I can’t go into right now, but that I’m being called to write and create from a different perspective and it’s quite exciting.There’s a short film that I’m really proud of called The Pros and Cons Of Killing Yourself. (https://www.ravisteve.com/project-04) Hopefully we’ll be able to catch it in festivals soon, but in the meantime there’s a great trailer and info about it on the website. And there’s also a fun series that I am a part of that films in Europe. It’s called Spellbound. We have done the first season and we’re about to start work on the second season. (https://deadline.com/2023/04/spellbound-cbc-hulu-zdf-france-televisions-tween-witchcraft-drama-1235314465/) In it I play Ginger Jones – who is a bit of a kooky witch – and she is just too much fun. No exact date just yet as to when it will be airing, but when it does, it will be a good one to watch with the kids!
And if all this is not enough, Raven is a Taekwando expert, too. When she attained her first-degree Black Belt, Raven commemorated the occasion with a tattoo of a black star on her right wrist. To earn that Black Belt, Raven chose to break concrete with the “hammer fist” technique which she completed with her right hand. Ouch!
Now you know a little more about Raven, I hope you’ll follow her on social media – Facebook.com/RavenDauda or on IG: @ravendlightworker.
Photo credit: headshot top of story courtesy of Tim Leyes