Up & Comer: Diane Mizota- Actress, Host, and Contestant
Diane Mizota is an actress and TV host and, currently, a contestant vying for the position of VP, Pop Culture at Pop Chips under Ashton Kutcher, who is the President of Pop Culture for the company, not to mention a part-owner.
Contestants submitted 90 second videos, uploaded onto Facebook, which are voted on by the public. The winner will get the title and a $50,000 salary for the year, and will cover pop culture events for Pop Chips. To be chosen, you either have to be one of the top-three vote-getters or be chosen by a panel of judges the sponsors have designated.
We here at YII are huge fans of making your own opportunities and Diana’s video, which she shot and edited herself, is very clever and well-made. With a background in hosting (not to mention acting and dancing), the position seems a natural fit. She’s in 5th place as of the writing of this so obviously other people agree. Check out her video here and vote for her if you like it, then read on for more about this working pro who’s continuing to make her own opportunities.
Hometown: Danville, CA
College and degree: UCLA, Communications Studies
What was it that made you want to be a performer? I actually wanted to be a dancer first. That’s how I started in this business, as a professional dancer. And then I realized that, wow, there’s other things you can do without dancing on concrete for 17 hours in the middle of the night, like on a video shoot. (Laughs.)
So you started as a dancer? While I was at UCLA, I started working as a professional dancer. I was in the “Gap-A-Go-Go” commercial. I danced on the Oscars. I danced for Prince. I danced in movies and, you know, with big celebrities and all kinds of stuff.
So how did you transition into acting and hosting? Did you get acting training? Absolutely. I studied with a few good acting teachers here in L.A. Having a dancer’s mentality, I believe you have to be prepared. A lot of times people think they can just come to LA with a headshot and hit the streets and start acting. But if you get in front of a casting director and don’t deliver, they are not going to see you again. It’s a one shot thing.
So what was your first acting job, and then when in this process did you get repped? My first paid acting jobs were commercials. I was repped because I was a dancer with the agency then got into their commercial department. Theatrical representation is, I’m sure you know, some of the hardest representation to get. I had a manager and he helped me get in with the agency that I have been with for over 10 years. They are a small boutique agency and they are really just cool women and ethical and, you know, fantastic.
And did you start pursuing hosting right when you got repped? Yes. Right when I got representation, they started sending me out for hosting stuff. I booked my own series on a fledgling network called G4. The show was “Filter” and it was all about video games. It was such a great education. I worked there for four years. And it was so much fun. We were so silly and irreverent and had such a great time. And even now, years and years after I left that network, I still have fans from that show, which is really cool.
You played a character called Fook Mi in “AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER.” How did that come about? Was it just a normal process where you auditioned a bunch of times? Yeah. Actually, they were looking for twins. And I went in for an audition by myself and they really liked me. And I was like, “Oh, awesome. I got this and I’m going to do another part because they will CGI me to be twins. This is perfect.”
Then they asked me if I had a sister or anyone who looks like me who could come in. They seriously wanted twins. I told them, “Well, there is this girl I know who is a dancer… Everyone always says we look alike. I could ask her if she’s interested.”
Well, that girl was Carrie Ann Inaba (judge, “Dancing with the Stars”). We had worked together a couple of times. So I called her up and said, “I know this is out of left field, but would you be interested in auditioning with me.” She was so we worked on our accents and our outfits. We also added stuff. We created a martial arts routine to show them, you know, we can do more than just what’s on the page, and they loved it. We had, I don’t know, probably like five or six auditions and then we got it.
That’s great. That extra effort paid off. Yes. We had matching belly rings and our makeup was the same. We did everything we could. We knew we needed every bit of help we could get to sell the twin thing. It was a fun experience. And the best part about it: We shot a scene with Michael Caine that didn’t end up being in the movie. But the hair and makeup people, they said that he saw our audition tape in the trailer and said, “Now, that’s acting. Those girls they prepare. Look at all the details.”
From one pro to another… Yes, that was great. And then hosting-wise, I did “Trading Spaces, Boys vs. Girls” for three seasons. And that was on Discovery Kids. And then I did a serious with Amy Grant called “Three Wishes” that lasted one season. We went to small towns across America and granted wishes to people in need. It was fun.
What was your worst job, or worst day, in the entertainment industry? I was a dancer on a TV show, a comedy where were doing like the finale of “Hair,” where everyone takes their clothes off. We weren’t naked like in the musical. We had on pasties and G‑strings. The way it was choreographed was so you couldn’t see anything.
So we had been shooting this thing all day. And this PA comes over to me. And she’s like, “Hey, Diane somebody on the crew is interested in you.” I’m thinking, “Oh, really. I’ve just been taking off my clothes all day long. Really?” Already awkward. And then she’s like, “Oh, wait.” And then someone says something to her over her walkie-talkie and she’s like, “Oh, um, you know what? He just said, “Wrong one.” And she goes running over to another girl.
That’s brutal. And wrong in so many ways. Okay, let’s move on to your best job, or best day in the entertainment industry… I have so many but the most recent that comes to mind is when I worked on the movie CYRUS last year. It was two lines on the page. It was with the Duplass brothers, who are these just awesome indie filmmakers. They were just so relaxed. Their set was like no other set I had ever been on.
They said, “You’re just at a party and John C. Reilly is going to come over and hit on you. He’s going to go off the page so just go with it.” He would come over to me each time and hit on me in a different way. And I just rolled with it. And the directors were just like letting me go and letting him go. And it was really funny, so my scene ended up being so much bigger than what was on the page. That was a real gem and so much fun and such a great experience.
So, what’s next for you? I mean, other than winning this contest? Yes, I’m currently a shameless, self-promoting spammer. (Laughs.) Seriously, I’m getting a great response to my video. Other than drumming up votes for this contest, I’m constantly auditioning for commercials, for hosting gigs, for acting stuff. I think the hosting suits me well because I just have a natural curiosity and an ease in front of the camera coming from years and years of work. And I’ve been moving into producing, too. I’ve produced some things and want to continue to do that, in addition to performing on-camera.
Diane’s Pop Chips contest video can be found here. (She’s pledged $10,000 of the $50,000 prize money, if she wins, to Step Up Women’s Network, an organization which pairs underserved girls with professional women mentors.) Diana can also be found at her website.
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